The dysfunctionalities of the city-state presented in Tram 83 include a severe lack of infrastructure, a nation displaying the characteristics of a banana republic, and a nation under the power and leadership of an authoritarian ruler. The chaos and disorder that exists in this nation is not one that would equivocate a whole, unified, and well-governed area that would earn the title “city-state,” and living in such a world creates dire consequences for its citizens.
“The city-state possessed all the characteristics of a disorganized banana republic” (171). In large part what makes the city-state dysfunctional is a general who does no good for the citizens but instead shamelessly takes from them, effectively depriving them of necessary electricity or resources: “People used to have power twenty-four-seven, before companies started sprouting like mushrooms. The term “blackout” didn’t appear in the dictionary” (92). The powers that be have decided what amount of electricity the public “needs” and have decided that a few days a week … a couple of days a week … and now only a few hours per day will do. They have taken to the point of cruelty and only take actions that are detrimental towards the citizen’s livelihoods rather than aiding the advancement of their people: “What will they do with their teeth when there’s nothing left to graze? Man proposes, God disposes. What will they do when the jujube trees grow shears? Will they eat those very shears?” (142).
The effects of of living under an authoritarian general, result in citizens who are forced to employ an “eat or be eaten” mentality, displayed in the way in which they live their day-to day lives: the guileless waitresses viciously seeking their tips, the baby-chicks eager to provide their services, the tourists who take advantage of a helpless situation all to satiate their bellies—to survive.
“The mightier crush the mighty, the mighty defecate in the mouths of the weak, the weak sequestrate the weaker, the weaker do each other in, and then split for elsewhere” (45).