Feed

Feed

by

M. T. Anderson

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Feed: Part 4: 4.6% Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Titus sees Violet in her room, he notices that she’s very pale. Her head is shaved and covered in scars, and he feels very uncomfortable, as if he’s seeing a wooden prop version of Violet.
At first, Titus is repulsed by Violet. He seems to feel no sympathy or emotional connection with this person he used to date.
Themes
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Violet’s father explains that Violet can barely speak anymore. He recalls how, years ago, he decided that Violet would never have a feed—after all, he didn’t, and neither did his wife. Then, he went to a job interview where his interviewers were clearly making fun of him via feed chat. It was then that he decided to give Violet a feed. By installing the feed so late, Violet’s father says, he may have endangered his daughter’s life.
Violet’s father is one of the more poignant characters in the novel, since he blames himself for Violet’s demise. He believed that Violet’s best chances of success in life involved her receiving a feed—and yet her feed is bringing her life to a premature close, implying that capitalism really is an ideology that ultimately cannibalizes even its own proponents.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Titus can only say, “I’m sorry,” but Violet’s father replies, “Sorrow comes so cheap.” He accuses Titus of taking Violet to the club and tells Titus to run off and “play your games.” He says that, like all Americans, Titus has no interest in what happens to a product after he throws it away. “Go back and hang with the eloi,” he hisses, refusing to explain what this means when Titus asks him. As Titus leaves, he hears Violet’s father crying and telling Violet, “I’m sorry.”
Violet’s father alludes to H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, in which upper-class humans evolve into a weak and foolish pleasure-seeking species, the eloi (while the working class evolves into fearsome morlocks). But even though Violet’s father has a point (namely, that Titus and his friends are shallow and selfish), there’s nothing constructive about his rage—he just wants someone to blame for Violet’s sickness. Indeed, the passage closes with Violet’s father offering the same ineffectual words—“I’m sorry”—that he’d previously attacked Titus for using.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Class and Segregation Theme Icon
The Environment Theme Icon
Back at home, Titus sits in his room, naked. He orders endless pairs of pants, until he’s out of money. He thinks he can feel the pants being packed, shipped, and distributed. He doesn’t sleep at all, just waits for the “shit-stupid sun” to rise.
Titus comes to a crossroads. His shopping binge could be interpreted as a way of repressing his feelings of guilt for Violet’s death. It is significant that Titus thinks carefully about his pants being packed—suggesting more concern for products than Violet’s father suggested he was capable of feeling. It’s as if Titus has reached a new low, but whether he’ll turn his back on consumerism is unclear.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
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Two days later, Titus goes to visit Violet. He has an hour before he’s supposed to meet Quendy. He tells Violet that he’s been listening to the news, and tells her stories about what he’s been doing. He also mentions that the Global Alliance is issuing threats of war with America.
Titus shows more initiative in visiting Violet than he has previously. He also shows more interest in current events than he has elsewhere in the book.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Class and Segregation Theme Icon
The Environment Theme Icon
Titus tells Violet, “You’re still there, as long as I can remember you.” He begins to weep. He promises to tell Violet a story about the feed. In this story, a normal guy meets a “dissident with a heart of gold.” The story, he claims, is “heartwarming and a visual feast.” At the end of the story, the characters learn to resist the feed. He reaches in to hold Violet’s hand. Her heart is barely beating.
In this final, ambiguous scene, Titus appears to show real emotional depth around Violet. He doesn’t think of her as a product, to be discarded as soon as he loses interest. Instead, Titus seems to be trying to take care of Violet by telling her a story. The story is clearly modeled off of their relationship, and it suggests that, moving forward, Titus might try to resist the feed (even if Violet will die). Yet it’s utterly unclear what Titus’s resistance would consist of. In fact, one could argue that Titus becomes Violet’s feed in this passage, whispering an ad for a kitschy, cliché-ridden movie about their love. Perhaps the best way to interpret this scene is to see it as Anderson’s plea to his readers in the 21st century. Even if it’s too late for Violet and Titus to do anything to save their world, or even themselves, Anderson hopes that Feed, his dark fable of consumerism, will inspire readers to resist the rampant culture of consumerism.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Class and Segregation Theme Icon
The Environment Theme Icon
The chapter, and the book, ends with a feed ad for a blue jeans sale. The ad repeats, “Everything must go” again and again, and the letters get smaller on the page until they’re barely visible at all.
The book ends with a feed ad slowly “fading away.” There are many ways to interpret this passage: it could be emblematic of the inevitable destruction of Titus’s unsustainable society, but it could also represent Violet’s death—or, more optimistically, Violet and Titus’s attempt to escape the feed’s constant, pestering influence. The passage is an ending as well as a beginning, but of what Anderson wisely refuses to say.
Themes
Corporations and Consumerism Theme Icon
Apathy, Happiness, and Satisfaction Theme Icon
Resistance Theme Icon
Class and Segregation Theme Icon
The Environment Theme Icon