Feed

Feed

by

M. T. Anderson

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Feed: Part 3: A Day in the Country Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Violet and Titus fly out to farm country, and during the flight, Violet talks about her family. Her parents met in grad school and had her shortly afterwards. When Violet was about seven her parents started to fight, and soon after that her mother left.
Violet’s parents are unusually educated and radical compared to most people Titus knows. Remember that Violet got her feed installed around the time she was seven, suggesting that her mother’s leaving was in some way tied to her decision to get a feed implanted.
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Titus explains to Violet that his parents met through “some friend” and took a trip to Venus before there were “uprisings.” Titus knows that Violet’s story is more interesting than his, but he enjoys conversing with her. However, in Titus’s opinion, Violet’s father is “an insane psychopath.”
Titus is always conscious that Violet is smarter than he is, but he seems not to mind. He dislikes Violet’s father, another smart person, because he refuses to dumb down his speech for Titus’s sake.
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Violet and Titus decide to stop at a filet mignon farm. They see miles and miles of raw filet mignon meat connected by tubing, and they run through a “steak maze.” Violet tells Titus about her theory of delayed gratification. She tries not to eat the same foods often, and when she orders something, she has the product shipped to her at the slowest possible speed.
In the future, parts of the cow are genetically engineered to be as big as a city. Violet understands that instant gratification is the reason why nobody else has any emotional maturity. When people wait for happiness, she realizes, they actually enjoy their experiences more.
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Later, back in the upcar, Violet asks Titus how he’d want to die if he had the choice. Titus decides that he’d like to die in a moment of intense pleasure—a “sense overload.” Violet suggests, “death is shallower now. It used to be a hole you fell into and kept falling. Now it’s just a blank.” Titus asks Violet if she’ll be around to “cut the juice” when he dies. Violet is confused, but then laughs and says, “I’ll be the first one to pull your plug.”
It makes sense that Titus would want to die in a moment of pleasure—since pleasure, to his mind, is the only thing worth living for. Violet (who doesn’t answer her own question, perhaps because she’s genuinely afraid of death) seems to think of death as a more spiritual experience. That may be why she’s momentarily bemused when Titus jokes about his own  death.
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Titus drops off Violet and then goes home. He sees his family members using their feeds to dream. His parents are “going mal” and Smell Factor is dreaming about talking giraffes. On his own feed, Titus learns that lesions are “hip” now. As he falls asleep, the feed whispers, “All shall be well.”
Titus’s society is relentlessly optimistic, even as the world is becoming increasingly tragic. Notice, also, that the corporate world, rather than abandoning the practices that cause lesions, has glamorized lesions and made them into something desirable.
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In the interlude, an unnamed speaker talks about the previous “ages of man,” such as the ages of oral culture and then print culture. Man has entered a new age: an age of “oneiric culture, the culture of dreams.” “What we wish for,” the speaker explains, “is ours.”
This is an uncharacteristically optimistic way to describe Titus’s society. While one could argue that the speaker is right, the truth is that modernity has limited what people are capable of dreaming. Consumerism has stunted the imagination, to the point where Titus’s dreams are no more dazzling than his waking life. This passage could be considered a parody of the writings of Ray Kurzweil, the well-known futurologist who believes that mankind will eventually merge with machinery, bringing about utopia.
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