Colonel Weber appears only sporadically throughout the story, but his personality and way of thinking provides a foil for the heptapods’ perspective, and the one that Louise eventually develops. Colonel Weber’s actions and behavior stem entirely from his own insular worldview. He is a military man whose duty is to the United States government and whose purpose is to identify and neutralize threats. When confronted with the sudden appearance of the heptapods, Weber’s instinct is to learn as much as possible about the heptapods while revealing as little as possible about humans in return. Based on his erroneous assumption that the heptapods are a possible threat, he reasons that the less the heptapods know, the less they might be able to exploit any human weaknesses. Weber knows that he can’t learn about the heptapods adequately without communicating with them, and so he enlists the help of Louise. But the limitations he places upon Louise’s work prove that he only wants to engage with the heptapods insofar as humans can benefit. For Weber, it is a zero-sum relationship. 

Weber’s thinking is transactional and linear, almost frustratingly so, and Louise’s immersion into the heptapods’ way of perceiving reality throws Weber’s thinking into sharp relief. Indeed, compared to heptapods, all humans think in a frustratingly linear and transactional way. Colonel Weber is a symbol for the kind of cage this thinking can be. Weber, like every human to one degree or another, is trapped. He is trapped by his own perspective and biases, and thus makes erroneous assumptions which limit his ability to learn. He is also trapped, as all humans are, in the present moment, and thus unable to see the larger picture, as heptapods do. Colonel Weber’s perspective gets him nowhere fast with the heptapods and he must rely on Louise, as someone who is able to broaden and change her perspective, to make any real progress.