There was a particularly interesting message coming across on page 121 from the conversation between Baley and Dr. Fastolfe. It is this conversation that we are first enlightened about the Spacers’ true intentions on Earth. Here, Fastolfe explains the Spacers’ concern for the fragility of Earth’s equilibrium, as well as their desire to find a way to help earthmen. It is the ongoing theme of imprisonment that arises here, as Fastolfe and Baley debate the possibility of earthmen emigrating to new worlds. It is as though the earthmen have an ignorant acceptance of their “imprisoning caves of steel.” They go about their lives eating rationed, government developed foods, sharing small government allotted living spaces, obeying the rules of hierarchy set forth by the Cities, and literally fearing the “outside.” They are even blind to the help the Spacers and robots are trying to give them (which is not entirely their fault, as the Spacers didn’t exactly explain the purpose of Spacetown to Earthmen), and won’t even consider the idea of going into space.
This imprisonment characteristic is one that contrasts our world in some aspects. We have an unyielding desire to explore further into space and deeper into the oceans/forests where as earthmen wouldn’t dare leave their safe City walls. Additionally, we live in a world of consumerism and materialism (at least in the U.S) where people constantly live outside of their means. The idea of rationing today would not be easily accepted, unless in legit situations like natural disasters, or maybe, war. Some people today might accept living in tiny government allotted housing. I mean, who hasn’t been or known someone who shared a little one-bedroom apartment with 4 people until they “made it big” in the city? But the overall desire, I think, is to move out of the city eventually and have a nice big house for your family. I think that although their world differs from ours greatly in some ways, it is not so far off that it couldn’t actually happen. Overtime though, our world’s ideals would have to change quite a bit for us to actually fear the outdoors or accept prison-like living.