Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.

Trademark, Corporation, and Registration Marks

In the future dystopic America where feed is set, corporate entities run everything, and everything can be purchased, consumed, and monetized. As a result, advertising is everywhere, as are corporation, trademark, and registration marks that appear in even the most unexpected of places. Take School™, for example. In “the dimples of delglacey,” Titus details how corporations now own and run the educational system and praises them for teaching kids how to use the world, including how to find bargains. Hostess M’s American Family of Restaurants owns the word Chew® and corporations have even manufactured and trademarked Clouds™. Nature is also not free of advertisements: In “a day in the country,” Titus and Violet fly over a lake whose bottom is covered with an immense, illuminated ad for Dynacom, Inc.

Sleep and Waking

Hardwired into the feed, Titus and others like him spend much of their lives figuratively in the dark and asleep. Driven by the desire to consume, they remain willfully ignorant about the dire state of the world and the environment. In “nudging again,” the Coalition of Pity hacks into Titus’s dreams and shows him images of human suffering and environmental decay around the world, but later, he only wants to fall back to sleep. And in 76.3%, after Titus learns that 1,500 Central Americans died from an ecological disaster and more about Violet’s imminent demise, he again falls to sleep, this time on Violet’s lawn. Conversely, though, when Titus awakens in the lunar hospital after his hack on the moon and finds himself disconnected from the feed in the aptly named chapter, “awake,” he says, “I opened my eyes.” In the final part of feed, “slumberland,” Violet’s health rapidly declines and she ultimately dies, or perhaps falls into a coma given that her heart is shown to still be barely beating. Either way, Violet, who chose to live in an awakened state regarding the reality of the world and the feed, lies there with open eyes, in which Titus can see his reflection. 


Despite being wired into a worldwide network and being surrounded by other people, so many of the feed characters exist in isolation. Any real human connection, including within Titus’s group of friends and family, is replaced by connections to technology and the feed. Titus, perhaps unwittingly, articulates this feeling perfectly in “flat hope.” He tells Violet how, when he was younger, he would play sardines or hide-and-go-seek at Link’s house. As he would walk around the empty house, he says, he realized how alone he was, even as other players were thinking about him, and like corporations on the feed, following his every move. Violet, who always appreciated Titus for his ability to speak with metaphors, understands what he means. She later laments to him after he breaks up with her in “54.1%” that everyone is now born alone in conceptionariums, and that she didn’t want to die alone, as well.