Chapters: so much to do–our duty to the party

Summary: so much to do

Violet tells Titus there is so much she wants to do, but now knows she doesn’t have much time left. As the two hold each other, Titus tells Violet she should have shared her situation with him sooner. He asks Violet how long she has, and she says that she could die at any time. After Titus brings Violet home, he does his homework. The chapter ends with a story on the feed from the Christian Cyberkidz Network about a boy who longs for his dog that is either dead or missing.

Summary: seashore

Titus and Violet visit the seashore, which is toxic. Titus doesn’t want to talk about Violet’s body falling apart. The chapter ends with feed chatter about a trite conversation from a feedcast.

Summary: limbo and prayer

Calista arrives at school with an artificial lesion. Quendy, jealous that Calista is dating Link, tells Titus it was made intentionally and Titus chats Violet to share the news. He also tells her Link is named after Abraham Lincoln and that his wealthy family cloned him from blood stains found on Lincoln’s wife’s cloak. Violet relays that she is reading ancient Mayan spells meant to preserve dying cultures. As Link plays limbo with a coaxial cable and Calista combs her hair while hurting her neck lesion, Titus and Violet agree to attend a party. The chapter ends with feed chatter: A speech, presumably from the U.S. government justifying its behavior, follows an ad about “Hot Sex Tips for Girls.” 

Summary: flat hope

At Link’s party, Quendy arrives covered with artificial lesions. The friends are in disbelief, but when Marty mentions her cuts, Quendy says they are in style. Titus chats with Violet that Quendy is simply trying to outdo Calista for Link’s attention. He then shows Violet an attic, one that only Link’s best friends know about and that contains a closet where they used to play the game sardines. Titus chats to Violet about being younger, before he was good friends with Link and was aware of the hiding spot. He would walk around the empty house and realize how alone he was, even as other players were thinking about him and following his moves. Violet chats back she understands. In the attic, the two come across old paintings of Link’s distant relatives, with old-fashioned names such as Jubilee and Hope, who Titus says look sad.

Summary: our duty to the party

Downstairs at Link’s party, people are playing the game spin-the-bottle. After Quendy kisses Link, and Marty says she looks good with her new lesions, Calista severely ridicules Quendy. When Marty’s spin points to Violet, he tries to kiss her, but she turns white. Outraged, she chastises everyone around her for playing games as the Earth dies. She screams that her fellow teenagers don’t just have the feed, but are feed, and that they’re being consumed. Violet then calls Quendy a monster, referring to her new incisions. When Titus attempts to stop Violet, she tries to slap him, but her body completely fails, and she passes out. Titus convinces someone to call an ambulance and heads to the hospital with Violet. On the way, Titus’s feed sends him banners about medical lawyers and malpractice, and he realizes that everything has changed.

Analysis: Chapters: so much to do–our duty to the party

Violet begins to fully accept how dire her situation is in “so much to do.” Now aware that she is dying, she sets off to gain new life experiences, and given the connection she feels with Titus, determines to share those experiences with him. At first, Titus appears willing, and he even begins to show Violet affection. But ultimately, just like he avoided the truth about the world, he’s unable to handle the truth about Violet. In “seashore,” when Violet speaks of her body falling apart, Titus asks her not to talk about it. And, in “so much to do,” when she makes it clear she could die soon, he pretends she could still live for years. Titus then simply brings her home and later does his homework, saying there wasn’t anything else to do. It is as if Violet is just another product that he’s grown bored with. However unsettling, his reaction is not surprising, though: His lifelong connection to the feed has supplied him with an endless stream of products and has also prevented him from dealing with anything real. On cue, Titus and Violet’s discussions in “so much to do” and “seashore” are followed by scenes from hollow, hackneyed feedcasts.

Titus and his friends aren’t simply consuming products, however. “Limbo and prayer” reveals that they are also products themselves. Earlier, in the chapter “the dimples of delglacey,” Titus learned that his parents created him at a conceptionarium to resemble a once promising but now forgotten actor, DelGlacey Murdoch. Readers now learn that Link, who was previously described as being especially tall and unattractive, was cloned from blood stains from Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Both origin stories shed light on one of the central themes of feed: the loss of individuality. The feed hasn’t simply induced many of its characters and those around them to act, speak, and dress in the same manner. It has also created an entirely commercialized world where at least two of the characters were modeled after others. In their world, individuality means little, and everything can become a product, including human beings. Corporations even find a way to turn lesions, perhaps the most evident sign of their misconduct, into something that can be consumed. Thanks in part to stars like those on Oh? Wow! Thing!, lesions evolve into a fashion statement, and after Calista shows off her artificial lesion at school in “limbo and prayer,” Quendy arrives at a party in “flat hope” covered in them.

Quendy’s blind participation in her own exploitation sets off the powerful climax of feed in the chapter “our duty to the party.” As Violet’s body fails and goes into seizure, she decides she can no longer stay silent and screams out the truth as she sees it. Violet, pointing at Quendy’s grotesque lesions as clear proof, tells Titus and his friends that they aren’t merely connected to the feed and driven to consume by corporations, but that they are also consumed by them. Violet’s outburst can be interpreted as her “duty to the party,” or her challenge to open her fellow teenagers’ eyes, wake them from their illusory world of fun and games, and for their sake and the world’s, make them see the truth. Whether or not this works remains to be seen, though when Titus realizes that the fantasy world in which he and his friends have been living will now never be the same.