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Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
Titus and his friends aren’t simply interested in the last fashions and feedcasts on the feed, they are controlled by them. Their constant connection to the feed drives their impulses, informs their thoughts, makes them ignorant, and inhibits their ability to be human. In “the moon is in the house of boring,” for example, when the group visits a mall, Marty buys a shirt he doesn’t like, simply because he can’t think of anything he truly needs. In “a day in the country,” Titus blissfully falls asleep thinking how blessed he is to live in a world where the feed can fill him in on new trends and President Trumbull can promise a bright future even as the world is ending. Driven by corporations to constantly consume, characters also forget how to truly connect and feel. In “father,” when Titus’s dad visits his son in the lunar hospital, he spends the bulk of his stay chatting to others through his feed. In “54.1%,” after Titus breaks up with Violet and her hand goes limp, he orders a jersey from Weatherbee & Crotch. Ultimately, as Violet points out in “our duty to the party,” all those who’ve been duped to constantly consume are themselves consumed by the corporations that control the feed.
Ironically, as the characters live through the feed, which is also hardwired into their biological functions, their legitimate life source, the Earth, dies. Still, the feed keeps users blissfully unaware, and major corporate entities that control it pursue profits unchecked. The result: All the planet’s forests have fallen, temperatures routinely rise well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, animals are extinct, land no longer produces food, humans can only be conceived in conceptionariums, and only a few fish remain in the oceans, where whales need to be covered in lamination to withstand toxic waters. In “seashore,” Violet and Titus even need to wear protective clothing simply to visit the seashore. Humans don’t even need to look far to see the damage: They results of environmental destruction are written on their own bodies, which are covered in red sores known as lesions caused by industrial pollution. Still, politicians such as President Trumbull spread propaganda and adults who should know better willingly comply. In “undervalued truffle,” President Trumbull tells citizens that corporations haven’t caused lesions, and in “a question of moral,” Titus’s father tells Violet that air factories are more efficient at producing oxygen than trees, and that real estate is more valuable than forests.
Unchecked corporate power and unbridled consumerism also lead to a loss of individuality among the novel’s characters. Titus and his fellow teenagers share the same superficial interests, namely shopping and partying, his male friends all speak in the same manner, and his female friends mimic even the slightest changes in hair styles. They also give themselves artificial lesions after the stars from their favorite feedcast, Oh? Wow! Thing!, making them fashionable. In “the dimples of delglacey,” Titus even learns that, at his parents’ wish, he was conceived at the conceptionarium in the likeness of DelGlacey Murdoch, a once promising but now forgotten actor. The characters’ need to conform helps drive their consumption habits, and resulting revenue for corporations. Violet knows this and tells Titus in “lose the chemise” that corporations only care about making people want things and in the process, have been reducing people into simplified personality types to create consumer profiles.
Most of the characters of feed and their fellow citizens live in willful ignorance and actively comply in the world’s destruction. They endlessly consume and then, just as quickly, discard. Even items such as dinnerware and tables are disposed of after use. And so long as bargains flow and feedcasts play, they readily accept political propaganda from President Trumbull and other politicians who are in the pockets of corporations, as Violet tells Titus in “the dimples of delglacey.” As corporations operate unchecked, though, the Earth dies, other countries suffer, and the Global Alliance threatens war on the U.S. The only potential antidote is dissent. In “the moon is in the house of boring,” the old man hacks into people’s feeds to broadcast warnings about the state of the world, and later, the Coalition of Pity hacks into Titus’s feed to show him images of eco decay and global suffering. More than anyone, Violet sees the damage the feed has caused, and the need for people to resist to help save themselves and their world.