1. Man’s guilt in history and in the tides of his own blood has been complicated by technology, the daily seeping falsehearted death.
At the beginning of Chapter 6, Jack considers his son’s premature hair loss and wonders if he or Heinrich’s mother might be responsible for their son’s thinning hair, by having unwittingly consumed toxic foods or raising the boy in the proximity of industrial waste. Jack begins with a specific, particular observation but soon brings the problem of Heinrich’s thinning hair into a wider, universal context. Heinrich’s relatively insignificant hair loss illustrates the novel’s greater concern with the way technology has unwittingly changed fundamental aspects of life. Jack’s individual genes might be responsible for Heinrich’s balding, but, given the pervasiveness of chemicals in the modern world, it’s impossible to determine who or what, exactly, is at fault. Man’s culpability is no longer obvious in many situations, since to some degree technology has begun to operate outside of man’s control. Technology has not only blurred the lines between what we are and are not accountable for, but it has also eroded away, like Heinrich’s hairline, some essential part of our lives. This passage sets the stage for the airborne toxic event and for Jack’s eventual confrontation with his own technologically induced death, via Nyodene D.