Many of the characters are allowed to create artistic works, but everything about those works is controlled and directed by the authorities. The realization is slow in dawning, but intense in meaning when apprehended: no matter how much creative energy and effort is put into the actual handiwork, without the ability to express one’s vision and follow one’s own muse, all art made for another is merely propaganda in one or another. In the novel, the art created at the direction of the Council is an external-directed force that provides a temporary salve to the despair. The art that comes personal inspiration is inner-directed as a means of achieving genuine satisfaction and empowering those who create it to realize that art has the power to transform people and society for the better.
The ageing-out phenomenon offers solace in the face of inadequate drug-treatment programmes, but it also adds fuel to a far bigger fire. The so-called unbreakable cycle of addiction appears to result from inequity – from poverty, from discrimination, from social and economic oppression. Without opening the doors of opportunity, without access to the roles that social, economic and political capital provides, oppressed groups might find it more challenging to cease their drug use, whether they receive formal treatment in a programme or not.