The book is finally getting interesting. We vaguely learn why it is that the people of the future are contacting people from the past. According to them, their world, the future they live in, is in danger. They don’t explicitly state this, but they imply that there are several realities fighting for existence and they want their world to come true.
“at certain cruxes of history . . . forces are in conflict. Technology is imbalanced. Too few have too much power. Alternate futures are equally or almost equally probable . . . and that affects the . . . shape of time.” (Piercy, 189)
It leaves one wondering why would they contact someone like Connie. A person in a mental institution who has no power, even over herself. When Connie asks about other people from the present that they have contacted they mention That they have mostly consisted of women and women in correction facilities/ mental institutions (Piercy, 188). While Connie was not in a mental institution when she was first contacted it shows that these people need to be in some kind of mental state in order to receive contact from those in the future. It could be that they must be weak minded, or possibly have gone through great turmoils in their life as evident by Connie’s history.
You would think that this leaves their options limited in who they can contact, but they state that they have been trying to contact people who are at the bottom of society.
“The powerful don’t make revolutions” (Piercy 190)
They can’t directly interfere with the past, but they can influence people to take action to fight against those that control them, before they gain too much control.
Once Connie mentions what the doctors had done to Alice they reveal some more information. Apparently the actions of these doctors are the first steps to the world that they wish to avoid. They want to avoid the power that control of the masses will grant to the few. Before hand the doctors work was a miscellaneous background detail, something that was not central to the story. This revelation puts the doctors research as a focal point for the entire story. While Connie is unable to actually change anything directly, what the doctors accomplish with these patients is important to the future.
After Connie’s operation we are more clearly able to see just how evil their work is for the common person. Connie becomes a vegetable unable to do anything for herself and not wanting to do anything. she is kept alive by the actions of those around her and it seems that the doctors don’t care about what they did to her as they proceed forward with plans to perform a similar operation to Alice. Skip was another one of their victims and while he did not become a mindless robot, he lost what made him Skip as noticed by Connie (Piercy, 264). This change is seen as a positive outcome by the doctors even allowing him to go home to visit his parents. What they could not see was that this change destroyed Chip, allowing him to kill himself. The death of a patient who they were trying to improve should be a deterrent to future experiments, but these doctors only see these people as experiments and Chip was a failed experiment. The work of the doctors is not to the benefit of the patients.
(Im aware this is late, but better late than never.)