The Circle

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Annie Allerton is a high-ranking member of the Circle (one of the so-called “Gang of 40”), but it’s never made clear what, precisely, she does. Annie is an old friend of Mae Holland’s, and she pulls strings to ensure that the Circle hires her. For the first half of the book, Annie seems to be an enthusiastic advocate of the Circle’s culture and beliefs: Annie encourages Mae to post online about her experiences, and she expresses shock and anxiety when Mae ignores her messages for even fifteen minutes. However, in the second half of the novel, as Mae becomes increasingly enamored with the Circle and its philosophy of transparency, Annie becomes increasingly uneasy and stressed out. Seemingly jealous of Mae’s new success, Annie begins ignoring her old friend and eventually has a nervous breakdown, which places her in a coma. The breakdown in Annie’s friendship with Mae is one of the most tragic aspects of The Circle, and the arc of their relationship is an argument that social networking pushes people further apart instead of bringing them closer together.

Annie Allerton Quotes in The Circle

The The Circle quotes below are all either spoken by Annie Allerton or refer to Annie Allerton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Circle published in 2014.
Book One, part 1 Quotes

Their first month living together Mae had broken her jaw one twilight, after fainting, flu-ridden and underfed, during finals. Annie had told her to stay in bed, but Mae had gone to the 7-Eleven for caffeine and woke up on the sidewalk, under a tree. Annie took her to the hospital, and waited as they wired her jaw, and then stayed with Mae, sleeping next to her, in a wooden chair, all night, and then at home, for days, had fed Mae through a straw. It was a fierce level of commitment and competence that Mae had never seen from someone her age or near her age, and Mae was thereafter loyal in a way she'd never known she could be.

Related Characters: Mae Holland, Annie Allerton
Page Number: 2-3
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel begins, Mae Holland is about to begin her career at an elite tech company, the Circle. She’s gotten the job thanks to the help of her former roommate and close friend, Annie Allerton. During the period when they were living together in college, Annie proved herself to be a good friend by taking care of Mae after Mae broke her jaw.

The passage establishes the close friendship between Mae and Annie, and—in light of what happens later in the novel—it’s important to notice that this friendship arises out of close, physical, face-to-face contact. The novel implies that the best and most fulfilling friendships are rooted in spending actual time together—not talking over the phone or text messaging. Over the course of the book, Mae begins to gravitate away from “traditional” friendships—i.e., friendships based on face-to-face interaction—and toward virtual friendships, mediated by the Circle’s social networking apps. In the process, Mae becomes lonelier and emotionally needier—no number of virtual “friends” can substitute for the close, intimate friendship that Mae has with Annie.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Circle quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Book One, part 2 Quotes

"It's the worst story," Annie said. "His parents were such fuckups. I think there were like four or five kids in the family, and Francis was youngest or second-youngest, and anyway the dad was in jail, and the mom was on drugs, so the kids were sent all over the place. I think one went to his aunt and uncle, and his two sisters were sent to some foster home, and then they were abducted from there. I guess there was some doubt if they were, you know, given or sold to the murderers."
"The what?" Mae had gone limp.
"Oh god, they were raped and kept in closets and their bodies were dropped down some kind of abandoned missile silo. I mean, it was the worst story ever.”

Related Characters: Mae Holland (speaker), Annie Allerton (speaker), Francis Garaventa
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mae asks Annie about a young man she’s met at the Circle, Francis Garaventa. Without hesitation, Annie tells Mae some shocking things about Francis’s early life: his parents didn’t raise him, and his sisters were raped and killed. Annie concludes her story with the unnecessary words, “It was the worst story ever.” Oddly enough, her words seem to minimize the horror of Francis’s early life. (“Worst story ever” sounds like something you’d say to describe a bad day of high school—not an actual tragedy).

The passage is an early sign of the superficiality and insensitivity of the Circle culture. Because the Circle celebrates openness and information transparency, people like Annie often hear genuinely tragic stories from their colleagues. Instead of expressing real sympathy, they offer only the most superficial reactions and then move on with their lives. Since Annie is someone who is capable of great kindness and friendship (shown by her devotion to Mae after Mae broke her jaw), her flippant comment about Francis shows a troubling change in Annie since she has begun working at the Circle.

The passage is also important because, as we’ll see, Francis uses his tragic personal history with child abduction to urge people to support his child tracking program without considering the ethical implications of such surveillance.

Book Two, part 2 Quotes

"Mae, they just got up and left. They never called 911 or anything. There's no record of it. They never reported it. But the body was found the next day. The guy wasn't even homeless. He was maybe a little mentally disabled but he lived with his parents and worked at a deli, washing dishes. My parents just watched him drown."
Now Annie was choking on her tears.
"Have you told them about this?"
"No. I can't talk to them. They're really disgusting to me right now"

Related Characters: Mae Holland (speaker), Annie Allerton (speaker)
Page Number: 443
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Annie has volunteered as a guinea pig for a new Circle program that tracks its users’ family history, stretching back hundreds of years. To Annie’s horror, however, this reveals some disturbing truths: some of her ancestors were Southern slave owners, and her own parents once witnessed the death of a man and did nothing about it.

The passage is important for a few reasons. First, it shows the way that the Circle uses information and total transparency to drive people away from their families and loved ones. Annie is horrified by the information about her family, but she never asks her parents for their side of the story. Even after the Circle embarrasses her and her family, it doesn’t occur to Annie to be angry with the Circle itself or to distrust its version of events—she’s already too slavishly loyal to her company to question its actions. Furthermore, the passage is an important example of how total transparency isn’t an inherent good. A few pieces of information wreck Annie’s relationship with her parents, possibly forever. Contrary to what Eamon Bailey has always claimed, the information doesn’t enlighten anyone or make anyone’s life better. It just causes problems.

Book Three Quotes

What was going on in that head of hers? It was exasperating, really, Mae thought, not knowing. It was an affront, a deprivation, to herself and to the world. She would bring this up with Stenton and Bailey, with the Gang of 40, at the earliest opportunity. They needed to talk about Annie, the thoughts she was thinking. Why shouldn't they know them? The world deserved nothing less and would not wait.

Related Characters: Mae Holland, Annie Allerton
Page Number: 497
Explanation and Analysis:

In the brief, final book of The Circle, we learn that Mae has betrayed Ty Gospodinov to the other two Wise Men, who, it’s implied have put Ty under arrest (or, perhaps, murdered him). In the final scene of the novel, Mae, now slavishly loyal to the Circle, looks at Annie laying comatose.

The way Mae treats Annie is indicative of how deeply the Circle has warped her understanding of human relationships. When the novel began, Mae was Annie’s close, loving friend—now, Mae doesn’t seem to think of Annie as a particularly important person at all. Indeed, the predominant emotion in this passage isn’t affection or concern, but annoyance. Mae feels a boundless desire to know everything about the world, even what other people are thinking and dreaming about. She decides that she’ll propose a project to read thoughts at her next Circle meeting.

Thus, the novel ends on a terrifying note: if Mae succeeds in her project to decode thoughts, then human beings will have lost their final form of privacy, their own minds. In general, the novel’s ending shows how the Circle has turned Mae from a sensible, compassionate young woman into a cold, unfeeling pawn. Here, more than ever, it’s clear that the Circle is no utopia: it’s a totalitarian regime.

Get the entire The Circle LitChart as a printable PDF.
The circle.pdf.medium

Annie Allerton Character Timeline in The Circle

The timeline below shows where the character Annie Allerton appears in The Circle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book One, part 1
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
...Circle, thanks in large part to the help of her friend and former college roommate, Annie. Mae feels exceptionally close to Annie, who once took care of Mae after she broke... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...the main company building. Inside, a young woman named Renata greets her, and explains that Annie will be with her in an hour. Renata shows Mae to her new desk. As... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
As Mae surveys her ugly cubicle and thinks about her previous job, she hears Annie say, “Now I’m thinking this wasn’t such a good idea.” She turns, and sees that... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
As Annie leads Mae around the building, Mae thinks about Annie’s college days. In college, Annie was... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie explains that Mae will be working in the Customer Experience department, but she assures Mae... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie takes Mae to the “Ochre Library,” a large, private reading room with an aesthetic that... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Annie tells Mae more about Ty’s role in the company. Ty’s great idea—the one on which... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie shows Mae the rest of the library. It contains tens of thousands of leather-bound books,... (full context)
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie tells Mae that she needs to go back to work. She leads Mae down to... (full context)
Book One, part 2
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
In the evening, Mae meets up with Annie at the Circle’s solstice party. They load their plates with delicious food, sit in the... (full context)
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie sees Mae and Francis talking and she comes to greet them. Francis seems oddly intimidated... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie greets Mae, and Mae is so overwhelmed with gratitude that she embraces Annie and whispers,... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...and compliments her for her success. As Mae works, she sees on her tablet that Annie has sent a company-wide message that Mae is “kicking ass” on her first day. (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
On Friday, Mae gets lunch with Annie, and Annie praises Mae for her excellent work. Annie notes that when she worked in... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
After lunch, Annie, Mae, and the other Circle employees congregate in the Great Hall, which is a cavernous... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...himself. Now, Bailey can check up on his mother at any time. Mae whispers to Annie, “This is incredible.” Bailey concludes, “All that happens will be known.” (full context)
Book One, part 3
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
...week, and Francis apologizes for talking about his childhood so frankly. He adds, “I assume Annie filled in the gory stuff. She likes to tell that story.” Francis proceeds to tell... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Mae meets Annie for lunch. Annie tells Mae that she’s been following Mae’s “conflict resolution” with Alistair. At... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Mae returns to her desk, where she’s left her phone, she and sees that Annie has already left her eleven messages. Each message is more urgent than the one before:... (full context)
Book One, part 5
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...and suggests that Mae add her parents to her insurance plan. That evening, Mae asks Annie about adding her parents to her insurance plan, explaining that her father’s current health insurance... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
As Mae is standing alone in Annie’s office, Annie calls her and explains that she’s “twisted a few arms” and arranged for... (full context)
Book One, part 6
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
The morning after she reunites with Kalden, Mae calls Annie and tells her that she’s met someone—someone with grey hair. Annie is perplexed, since she... (full context)
Privacy Theme Icon
...night, he pulled her close to him, as if he’d wanted to kiss her. Suddenly, Annie calls back. Mae remembers what Annie’s told her: the Circle is in “some moderately hot... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
...Mae focuses on her customers, and ignores Francis’s endless stream of messages and apology videos. Annie returns from Peru on Friday and meets up with Mae to watch the news about... (full context)
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
...for letting down her company—the same company that’s taking such good care of her parents. Annie messages her, “Goddamnit, Mae, give a shit!” For the rest of the evening, Mae “zings,”... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
One evening, Mae finds herself thinking about Kalden. She texts Annie and tells her that she hasn’t heard from him in a while. Privately, she thinks... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
On Friday, Annie and Mae are sitting in the Great Hall, where Tom Stenton is about to give... (full context)
Book One, part 7
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
...morning after having sex with Kalden, Mae wakes up in her dorm room. She calls Annie and tells her that she had sex with Kalden, but still doesn’t know his last... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
...to photograph his arm and fingertips, “the rest of him already gone.” Afterwards, Mae texts Annie about having had sex with Kalden. (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...needs to generate revenue by advertising for other businesses. As Gina speaks, Mae openly messages Annie about Kalden—Gina seems intensely jealous that Mae talks to Annie “all day.” Annie asks Mae... (full context)
Book One, part 8
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
...that she has, and Bailey’s face twitches oddly. He asks Mae about her friendship with Annie, and he offers her tea. Then, without warning, he asks Mae about the events of... (full context)
Book Two, part 1
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
...soon as the camera is off, Mae feels a deep “tear” inside her. She messages Annie, but gets no response, so she tries to entertain herself by watching footage from SeeChange... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
...with each other, and with the Circle. She recalls that today is the day that Annie returns from her months in Europe and Asia where she was “ironing out some regulatory... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Mae remembers that she has to see Dr. Villalobos in ten minutes. Suddenly, she sees Annie walking by in the distance and calls after her. Annie turns and smiles a “practiced,... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
...her camera on—the “rules” give her up to three minutes of silence. In the bathroom, Annie compliments Mae for “killing it,” but Mae detects a note of envy in her voice.... (full context)
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...to visit her parents, furious that they’ve disrespected the Circle. She begins to wonder what Annie—who, she’s convinced, is jealous of Mae—will do to use Mae’s embarrassment about her family to... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
...of 40, the group that approves new Circle projects. Eamon Bailey greets her warmly, but Annie does not greet her at all. Previously, Mae has been told that the meeting must... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Annie disagrees with Mae’s point: why bother building a “wraparound service” when the government could do... (full context)
Book Two, part 2
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Suddenly, Mae sees Annie and embraces her. Annie immediately informs Mae that she’s been working on PastPerfect, a new... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
When Mae returns to her desk, she sees a message, written on paper, from Annie. The message asks her to come to the bathroom as soon as possible. Mae does... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
The next day, the Circle releases Annie’s ancestry. Some people find it disturbing that Annie’s distant ancestors owned slaves, but most don’t... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
The next day, Mae goes to the bathroom and sees the tip of Annie’s shoe in the next stall; immediately, she turns off her audio. Annie, her voice very... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
The next day, Annie zings, “We shouldn’t know everything.” Mae and Annie meet in the bathroom again and turn... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...pride that her coworkers are so committed to transparency. Suddenly, she realizes the “solution” to Annie’s problem: enlist the millions of Circle users to express their support for Annie. Speaking to... (full context)
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...Hall, where she’s about to give a solo presentation. Mae explains what she did for Annie, and Bailey smiles and compliments Mae on her foresight. Then, Mae walks out onto the... (full context)
Book Two, part 3
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
...that time, Mae’s number of watchers has held steady—around 28 million. In the past week, Annie has “collapsed.” Mae meets with Bailey in his library, thinking that she needs to be... (full context)
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Bailey asks Mae how Annie is doing, and Mae replies, “the same.” Then, Bailey walks Mae out of the library,... (full context)
Book Three
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Mae is sitting in a clinic, staring down at Annie. Annie, Mae remembers, collapsed at her desk and fell into a coma. Afterwards. Dr. Villalobos... (full context)
Social Networking and the Internet Theme Icon
Surveillance and Transparency Theme Icon
Privacy Theme Icon
Totalitarianism and Indoctrination Theme Icon
Utopianism and Perfection Theme Icon
Still standing over Annie’s comatose body, Mae looks at the screen monitoring Annie’s brain waves. Mae feels angry that... (full context)