Chapters: salad days, w/ sneeze guard–release

Summary: salad days, w/ sneeze guard

To occupy and entertain themselves while in the hospital room, the group of friends spitballs hypodermic needle tips at a picture showing a man’s anatomy while singing the song “I’ll Sex You In.” Link and Marty continue to flirt with Violet, who is especially good at the game and surprises the group with big words though it’s now clear that she’s only interested in Titus. Loga returns and, to entertain her friends who are still without their feeds, recounts what is happening during the girls’ favorite feedcast, Oh? Wow! Thing! As Loga details a romantic scene between two of the feedcast’s characters, Violet and Titus look at one another and hold their glance. The two then get to know each other better and agree that they’re happy and having fun, which Violet describes as being “our salad days.”

Summary: the garden

Violet is unsettled after speaking with a doctor. Later, she shows Titus an old garden whose plants are dead and praises him for using metaphors before the two kiss.

Summary: dead language

With the friends still in the hospital room, Violet and Titus discuss their families. Titus mentions his younger brother, whom he calls Smell Factor. His father is in banking, though he is not sure in what capacity, and his mother is in design. Violet’s father is a college professor who teaches dead languages that no one uses anymore, including programming languages such as FORTRAN and BASIC. When Violet writes and translates three phrases in BASIC, Titus is surprised and awed that she can read and write. He learned to read only a little in School™, he tells her. He also questions why Violet reads rather than uses the feed, to which she sarcastically replies that she’s pretentious. Pressed by Titus, Violet admits that she lied earlier about her father not visiting the hospital because he was too busy.

Summary: release

After more days pass, a doctor, policewoman, and technician enter the hospital room. The technician thanks the friends for their patience and says the time was needed to ensure that their feeds are now safe and virus-free. In an examination room, a doctor restores Titus’s feed, which returns with an ad about the car, the Ford Laputa. Soon, all the friends’ feeds are restored and as it returns, they all rejoice together, running their hands over their bodies with joy while dancing. Baseball games and movie ads begin to flood their minds again, as does news concerning protests over America’s annexation of the moon and U.S. President Trumbull’s response to other countries’ requests to join the Global Alliance as a result. Still, as the feed’s ads continue to flow, Violet and Titus hold hands and are happy.

Analysis: Chapters: salad days, w/ sneeze guard–release

Violet’s smarts, individuality, and ability to feel emotions set her apart from her fellow teenagers. But she also sees something different in Titus. He doesn’t hit on her like Link and Marty do, and he uses metaphors when he speaks, a skill that’s lacking in his friends and likely the result of a loss of imagination resulting from the feed. Violet herself knows how to use a metaphor, and in her wholly unique way, compares her happy times with Titus in the lunar hospital to “our salad days.” She later praises Titus for this skill in “the garden,” a chapter that sheds light on her “salad days” reference as well as Part 2’s title, “eden,” which itself serves as a metaphor for all that has been lost in their world. As Violet and Titus kiss for the first time at the garden and behold its dead plants all covered in space dust, the scene recalls the Old Testament story in which Adam and Eve were exiled from the garden of Eden by God. The story represents humanity’s fall from a state of bliss into a state marked by suffering and death, a state that, readers will soon learn, increasingly defines living conditions on Earth. 

Violet stands out in other ways, too. For example, she can read and write, other skills that the feed has rendered useless. Still, her father is a college professor who teaches dead languages that no one uses anymore. His profession, though confusing to Titus, can be seen as an act of resistance against the feed and a resultant lack of education among youth such as Titus, who protested reading in “School™” because he didn’t like silent E’s. Violet’s father’s choice of profession can also be seen as an act of preservation: He’s attempting to save meaningful forms of culture and communication that have disappeared in a consumer-based society that too quickly disposes of its products. His profession feels all the more important given that those around him, including Titus and his peers, can only speak in a dumbed-down slang filled with vapid words such as “like” and “thing,” and often only via chat.

In “release,” Titus realizes that the good days couldn’t last forever, and after spending days in the hospital, the friends are finally reconnected with their feeds. Titus, as Violet has already seen, has a way with metaphors, and compares the return of their feeds to different forms of water, including spring rains and a waterfall. As banners, snippets of baseball games, and promotions for “upcars” fill the friends’ brains again, it’s as if life itself returns to their bodies and they’re resurrected. The scene, and the way the group runs their hands over their bodies with joy, reveals how integral the feed is to their existence, and foreshadows future events in feed. And despite the friends’ collective bliss, readers are also reminded of the hacker’s ominous message, and get a glimpse of what is to follow as feed chatter hints at a growing rift between the Global Alliance and United States.