Feed

By M.T. Anderson © 2002

STUDY GUIDE by Jim Carlson & Tony DePaolo, 2007

 

Characters


Titus – narrator.  Ends up with a new upcar after trauma on the moon

Violet   - late in life (7), her feed is installed.  Violet now lacks compatibility (and corporate support) to continue with the feed.                         

Link- linked to Abe Lincoln due to wealthy parents and genetic cloning.  Experimentally TALL.  Also linked to sausage because of his looks.

Marty –athletic, plays video games.  Swears like a sailor.

Calista- in competition with Quendy for Link                                        

Quendy – her parents have a midlife crisis (p. 77). 

Loga – Titus once dated her.  Untouched by the hacker on the moon.

Steve-narrator’s dad.  Frequently absent from home life, often on whale hunting adventures       

Narrator’s mom – Caught in a relationship with a childish, adulterous husband.                          

Smell Factor- Younger brother of Titus.

Violet’s father – teaches Dead Languages.  Relatively low in terms of socioeconomic status, location in suburbia (on land), and value to society. “I am master of all I survey” (p. 137).

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions

 

1.      GENERATION TITUS:

a.       Feed begins on a Friday, when out of boredom, a group of adolescents decide to spend Spring Break on the Moon at Ricochet Lounge.  In what ways does this Spring Break compare with what you envision when you think of Spring Break (a major reason for going to the moon was to GO DANCING)?

b.      LACKING APPRECIATION/FEELING ENTITLEMENT – Find some examples of characters in this book lacking appreciation or feeling as if they were entitled to something (“it sucks” to go to the moon, despite cost; “We should get something for that (testifying in court). We deserve it. (p. 123))

c.       Hairstyles change within the hour, Retro-throwback clothing styles occur in a week (remember Riot Gear), and TV personalities can okay lesions (self-mutilation).  What makes this so much different from the present?  How is this a stretch of M.T. Anderson’s imagination?

d.      What were you thinking when the kids, while in the hospital, were throwing hypodermic needles (p. 57)?  In particular, how do you explain Link’s mother’s defense of the act (p. 59)?

e.       Beginning on p. 62, Titus’s use of metaphor intrigues Violet.  Why?  Is figurative language a part of the younger generation’s vocabulary?

f.        Titus claims that he likes debating – especially when people argue “different points of view.”  Would you define Titus’ character by his ability to debate?  Consider his political conversation with Violet on p. 112 about democracy (“It’s not a democracy”).

g.       On p. 117, readers are introduced to the Conceptionarium.  When you first learned of this mode of reproduction, what was your reaction?

 

 

 

 

 

2.      THE FEED:

a.       This book is dedicated, “To all those who resist the feed.”  What does it mean to resist the feed, and in what ways do you (or people you know) resist the feed.

b.      Early in the novel, p. 14, the feed suggested “supple” as a word for Titus to use to describe Violet’s spine.  What are some other instances of over-reliance or over-dependency on the feed exhibited by characters from the novel?

c.       Titus has a difficult time without his feed, stating on p. 47 that one of the greatest things about the feed is that, “you can be super-smart without ever working.”  He elaborates that the feed knows everything you want and hope for, “sometimes before you even know what those things are.” In what ways do we enjoy similar feed-like benefits (instant news, entertainment, and reality shows: Oh? Wow!Thing!)?  How are our feed-like benefits different from Titus’?

d.      Violet’s project was to become invisible to the feed… to not fit a profile that could be marketed to.  She went through extensive lengths to accomplish her goals.  Shortly after a visit to the mall, Titus dropped her off at a feed technician, where he watched her pinch and pull at her elbows (p. 104).  What did you make of this scene?

 

3.      TIME:

a.       What do you make of the progression of this novel: Part I: Moon; Part II: Eden; Part III: Utopia; Part IV: Slumberland?  What were the key events from each section?

b.      How much time passes throughout the course of the novel?

 

4.      CORPORATIONS:

a.       Once Titus’ feed is up and running (p. 70), he views a Ford “commercial” advertisement.  I compared Titus’ reaction to this commercial to a young child receiving a Happy Meal from Mc Donald’s.  What do you compare it to?

b.      Titus and his friends, in all their savvy, take advantage of “a chance to rip off the corporations” on p. 158.  What did you think about when as your read this passage?

c.       p. 202 – “You don’t have the feed.  You are the feed.  You’re feed.  You’re being eaten.  You’re raised for food.”

d.      What is the role of the following symbols in the book: ® © ™?

a.       Cloud

b.      Hard fact

c.       School

e.       Throughout the novel, Titus is often bombarded with advertisements – shorts for $699 + $78.95 for shipping.  What are some of the physical, psychological, and intellectual effects of such bombardment?

f.        Titus’ friends are convinced that “they are still going to control everything whether you like it or not…Plus, they keep everyone employed” (p. 49). Who is the “they” and what does it mean?

g.       We never did find out a lot of information about the “hacker” who had his filthy paws on 13 different feeds the night that Titus and company were molested.  What do you make of Anderson’s vagueness of the hacker?  Is the hacker a single, perverted person?  Is the hacker the company that sells products?  The parent who buys the products?  The corporation who profits?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.      GOVERNMENT:

a.       What was your take on the whole “annexing the moon” piece that President Trumbull was speaking about on p. 71?  What about the President’s claim, on p. 85, that “freedom does not lesions make”?

b.      What issues about class and socioeconomic status are brought out in this book?  Find a passage that seems to put the issue of class under the microscope (e.g. “…she had to pick up anything…and use them like a toy gun, and pretend it was just as good as a real one made of plastic” (p. 107)). 

c.       What did you think of Violet’s claim that only 73% of Americans have the feed, while 27% resist?  To what topics would you compare this near ¾ majority in our own culture?

 

6.      PARENTING AND MANHOOD:

a.       How has parenting change with time?  Does this book depict parenting styles in ways to which you can relate or have experience? What is your vision of what parenting might be in the 22nd century?

b.      What traits, hobbies, and behaviors of Titus’s father?  How would you describe his conduct? 

c.       Titus’s mother asks Titus to stop calling his younger brother “Smell Factor,” but look at how she acts at the top of p.128, while also looking at how Titus’s father acts also at the bottom of p. 128 in a moment of parenting.

d.      Discuss what Anderson is depicting with the “whale hunting” adventure of Steve and corporate friends.

e.       P. 114: Titus’ mother assures him that he’s as “handsome as a duck in butter,” but she can’t assure him that he’s not dumb.  Comments?

f.        Why do Titus’s parents reward him with an upcar on p. 118?  Why do you think Titus says, “I didn’t feel so stupid anymore” after the gift?  How does Violet respond to the reward on p. 122?

g.       On p. 91, Titus feels like a man because he can keep things (his thoughts and feelings) from Violet.  In what other ways is a man defined in throughout this novel?

 

7.      ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:

a.       This book takes an intense look at some key environmental concerns in our current generation.  How did you respond to the fate of Jefferson Park (p. 125), and what other environmental issues surface through a reading of the book? 

b.      What did you think of each yard “having its own bubble with its own sun and seasons? (p. 134

c.       Have you been tempted to take your grill out of the garage for a filet mignon any time lately? (p. 142) Also, how do you respond to Titus on p. 142 when he says, “I like to see how things are made, and to understand where they came from.  Could you see Titus as a biologist? 

 

8.      THE CHARACTER OF VIOLET:

a.       When did you begin to feel that something was going wrong with Violet (p. 129)?

b.      What were some things that, looking back, you can now say were signs of the “decline of civilization” (p. 184).

c.       What did you think of Violet’s To Do List (pp. 229-233)?

d.      At any point in this book, did you feel sorry for Violet because of her lack of life experience? 

 

 

 

 

9.      LITERARY CRITICISM:

a.       Did you like M.T. Anderson’s style as a writer?  Consider reading the middle paragraph on p. 190 before responding.

b.      Consider also, on p. 241, the conversation between Titus and Violet, who doesn’t want Titus to drive her while he’s meg mal.

 

10.  PSYCHOLOGY

a.       What does this book have to say about human feelings?  Take for example pp. 245-247, when Violet sends Titus a file that helps him understand how she feels.  Also, what is the result of Violet sending her file to Titus?  How does he feel? 

b.      What is going on with Titus on p. 269 when he is unable to get an erection with Violet, he says, “I keep picturing you dead already”?

c.       Is Violet’s father in any way responsible for his daughter’s condition? 

 

11.  FRIENDSHIP/RELATIONSHIPS:

a.       Something very strange happens on p. 54:  “So we just sat there, together, and we didn’t say anything.  And it wasn’t bad.”  What may be significant about this passage?

b.      Does Titus redeem himself for you at the end of the novel.  On p. 298, he tells Violet that their story is “PG 13, for language and mild sexual situations.”  Titus cries for the first time, holds her hands, updates her about the latest in malls, war and Santa…

 

12.  DECLINE OF CIVILIZATION:

a.       On p. 32, shortly after the Link decides that they should break into the hotel’s minibar, the group comes into contact with an angry mob of Eurotrash protesters broadcasting chants like: “Chips in my head?  I’m better off dead.”  Discuss the act of protesting as it relates to our current society.  Are there protests out there we roll our eyes at, saying, “Omigod”?  Did you find other acts of protest in this book (if so, what role did the police play?)?

b.      What does this book have to say about education – home schooling, public schools, etc.?