Class Discussion: “The Machine Stops”

Just a reminder that you should make your at least one comment (just hit “reply,” either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Sunday (3/16).

Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by Tuesday (3/18). 

The goal is to have some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about this short story. Therefore, your comments need not be very long: for example, you can provide a quote/citation and a few sentences of explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question (or you can raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a character, or setting, etc.).

26 thoughts on “Class Discussion: “The Machine Stops”

  1. The one lingering question I have about this story is does the machine actually stop? At the end of the story where are just left with Kuno saying the machine is stopping I know it, but we aren’t given a definite answer.

    • Yes, I think the machine stopped working. It broke down and fell apart to the point of no return. The people who lived there didn’t even know how to fix it. This is shown throughout the story when everything started to slowly stop working and no one did anything about it.

    • The way it was phrased by Kuno in the end was there is still hope and he still believed in humanity enough till the end so I feel like it would stop because it made people realize theirs more to life then the technology.

    • I wouldn’t say the Machine stopped just YET, but i think the last paragraph was to signify the end of the Machine’s reign and perhaps the start of a new.

  2. I really like the layout of this story. I feel that the “bee hive” concept is really obvious here. Especially how society is nowadays makes this story a little bit more believable, like this can actually happen and we will all be someday be relying on a machine. Anyone agree?

    • I agree with you. People are relying on their technology such as cell phones and computers for everything already, so I think that the way we are living now, it will definitely lead to that.

    • I agree with both Brian and Kayla. This story really shows how technology can over power and be in the center of our lives. Thus it leads to “bee hive” concept. E.M. Forster gave us a glimpse of this on page 15, second to last paragraph. I think that whole paragraph is basically a good example of this concept.

    • I can agree with Brian that this could possibly happen in the future. I don’t think necessarily it would happen in our own futures, as a change like this, I feel would take a vast amount of time to happen. I don’t think humanity is ready to give up all of it’s rights to human contact just yet.

    • I disagree on the fact that someday we might have to worship some kind of Machine because I think as long as people can hold onto their humanity and their faith in each other, we won’t need to depend too much on technology for everything.

    • I really hope one day we won’t turn into this though as much as it is starting to look this way with all the new technology and everyone is so dependent on it more then necessary.

    • I definitely agree with you, we do seem to be heading in that direction some time in the future. Now a days people rarely have conversations on the phone unless its too long to text. the concept of the story was very interesting especially since it was published in 1909. Reading it now, Forster was very ahead of his time.

    • Regardless, I believe we’re too reliant on technology. Picture a day where no electronic devices, internet, or any form of communication existed (besides the basic phone call). Just the thought of it would have people freaking out.

      As a personal exercise we should all do that for a day or maybe even a weekend.. just to see how you would do and how the people around you would react.

    • I agree with Kayla B just a little where she said that our society is going to head in the direction of the story when talking about technology. We already use technology so much but we are interacting with each others too much because we have to work, go to school, and hangout with our friends. I think it would lead more into that direction of using technology more and more but not to the point where we don’t interact with each other as much in the story. In the story there is hardly any interaction with each other face to face but only a few over the webcam.

    • I disagree with Allen, because many people already depend completely on technology to complete their day to day task. They are uncapable of going a day without their phones so its kinds of something they feel they need to live okay.

  3. Agreed. By the way we are going with technology nowadays it’s possible that we end up the way these people ended up living. And many will only depend on technology. Many lose their phone a minute and it’s the end of the world for them. Sadly for these people, they were too blind to notice what was happening around them.

    • I agree with you this story is very similar to what we live today. Its kind of a prediction to what might happen in our world. This is considered to be the technology era, and I don’t know if many have noticed but most of the things we do have became technology based.

    • I agree with Jonathan because this story is some what similar to some of the people in our society when using technology. Their are some people who use technology ever minute of the day and cant control it. For example, some people text so much that they forget to do thier daily activities that should be done like errands. Whenever they lose their phones for 5mins they go nuts and get so upset that they get mad at the world. They cant live without their phones for a second of two just like the people in the story called Machine Stops.

  4. I enjoyed reading this story. It gave me as a reader a sense of nothing can be completely perfect and have a good ending to it. The character Kuno definitely reminded me of Bernard from A Brave New World. He was the outsider and believed in something more than the machine.

    • It’s interesting now that you mentioned how Kuno and Bernard are similar because in their stories they’re outsiders. Now that I think about it The Child in The One Who Walk Away from Omelas was an outsider as well. In a way so was the main character in The Day Before The Revolution, because she was fighting for a cause. In the Story of an Hour, different characters can be viewed as outsiders for several reasons, Mrs. Mallard as far as her marriage went, Mr. Mallard because he wasn’t in the story until the very end but yet he cause so much emotion to happen in the story because it had to do with him, and Richards for bringing news he made sure was correct and it wasn’t. The sister Josephine as well because she was the one who told Mrs. Mallard the news, she was there but not really ding much in the story so she might have felt bad or out of place.

    • I never thought about it like but I think they are similar to a point! Simply because as we read the end of Brave new world you see Bernard’s cowardness coming out. Kuno accepts his punishment and isn’t upset and crying like a little kid. And he’s still defiant at the end of the story I love it!

    • Wow i never really taught of this connection between the characters, there is a great resemblance between them. I think this is what was referred to in class as in the aspect that there are always characters in these Utopias or Dystopias which give us an insight of the crack and crevices in the respective societies.

    • Totally agree with you because Bernard is someone who wants to go against the World State’s ways and Kuno wants to go against the Machine’s ways, great analysis.

    • Just how llian says “nothing can be complety perfect” the more utopian stories we get to read in class, i am reasured that there is no such thing as a perfect world. There will always be the one person who is unsatisfied, and creates problems one way or another.

  5. Well the machine actually does stop in the end when kuno is telling his mother what he did to make it stop and this why he is being cast out to being homeless he also states someone is going to stared the machine again

    • Wait, Kuno made the machine stop? I didn’t get that impression from the story. I just thought it fell apart, and when Kuno was talking to his mother I thought he was stating that humanity learned its lesson, and that the machine wouldn’t be started again.

  6. The Machine could be a symbol figure of people (and governments) who try to make others subjected to their orders ,, and when ever anyone tries to object or even make an opposite comment of the administration this person is supposed to be threatened with death.

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