Reading Response #1- The Machine Stops: Blog Post

“The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster, tells the story of a future where human civilization seems to rely on a ‘machine’ to help them function and survive. People have seemed to rely on the ‘machine’ because Earth has become a wasteland. In this future, there are these rooms that have all these buttons that relay a function. Forster writes, “There were buttons and switches everywhere– buttons to call for food for music, for clothing” (pg.3). In these rooms, there was some sort of screen or panel that can be used for communication. In all, the ‘machine’ had eliminated human contact. It seems that since human contact has been eliminated, people have become distant and obnoxious when meeting face to face.

Apparently, the ‘machine’ was built to advance human civilization. The ‘machine’ was there to create a better future for mankind. People worshipped the ‘machine’ since there was no religion. It was as if God was no more and that the ‘machine’ had become the highest being. The ‘machine’ had its own type of bible. People would turn to the book if they were faced with any situations. Forster writes, “This was the Book of the Machine. In it were instructions against every possible contingency” (pg.4). So because there was no longer any type of religion people worshipped the ‘machine’.

The two protagonists, Vashti and her son Kuno. Vashti was more receptive to the ‘machine’. She believed it was mankind’s greatest creation. Kuno, on the other hand, disliked the machine. Kuno had lived on the northern hemisphere, separated from his mother. The ‘machine’ had created separate rooms for families. Forster states, ” “Parents, duties of,” said the book of the Machine, “cease at the moment of birth” (pg.6). It is insane that a machine built by humans would think that the separation of families will help the human civilization survive. Forster states, “People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine” (pg.9).  Since the invention of the ‘machine’, people have become isolated from one another because of the separate rooms they would live in.

Kuno wants his mother to visit him and have a face to face conversation. At first, Vashti does not want to do it because she hates the idea of space travel. You would think that a mother would want to see her son but no that’s not the case. She eventually agrees to visit him. Her journey is an uneventful one. She dislikes the sun and the people she meets. She learns the Kuno is being threatened with Homelessness. Forster says, “Homelessness means death. The victim is exposed to the air, which kills him”(pg.10). This suggests that if a person would disobey the machine in any kind of way then a person is sent to the surface of the Earth to die. Later, Kuno explains to his mother that he has been to the surface of the Earth and has survived. So probably, the committee or whoever is in charge of the ‘machine’ thinks that those that choose to disobey the rule of the ‘machine’ will be banished to live on Earth.

Forster notes, “We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops–but not on our line. The Machine proceeds–but not to our goal” (pg.150. In this quote, Kuno gives his mother a taste of the truth. The ‘machine’ is destroying mankind and no one seems to notice.

Ultimately, this text has provided me with a visualization of what Earth could become. Our people are already relying on technology to advance us into the future. As humans, we must decide where the line is drawn. We must not let technology get the better of us and separate us. For we are the creators and that is how it is meant to be. Nothing more–nothing less.

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