The “Cootings Machine” is a name Klara gives to a construction vehicle that spews large clouds of smoke that ultimately block out the Sun. The machine itself represents the negative side effects of progress and how modern technology causes harm to the environment and is unpleasant for humans (since the people on the street all seem happier on the days when the Cootings Machine isn’t around). Klara calls these vehicles Cootings Machines because Cootings is written on the side (presumably because it’s the name of the manufacturer). Eventually, Klara gets the idea that she needs a favor from the Sun (in order to cure Josie’s illness), and she decides that the best way to obtain a favor from the Sun is to do something that will please the Sun. She thus decides to destroy the Cootings Machine, which she does using the expertise of the Father. The results of the sabotage are mixed—on the one hand, the broken Cootings Machine is simply replaced by a larger one, but on the other hand, Klara gets her wish and Josie is cured. In turn, the Cootings Machine demonstrates that the fight for a better, less polluted environment is difficult but ultimately worthwhile.
The Cootings Machine Quotes in Klara and the Sun
“Please make Josie better. Just as you did Beggar Man.”
“You know, Klara. I don’t even know what this is about. But I want what’s best for Josie. Exactly the same as you. So I’m willing to grasp at any chance that comes our way.”
I turned to him with a smile and nodded. “Yes,” I said. “Then let’s try.”
Its body was a different shade of yellow, its dimensions a little greater—and its ability to create Pollution more than a match for the first Cootings Machine.
When she was mid-distance, she stopped and turned, and I thought she might look back one last time at me. But she was gazing at the far distance, in the direction of the construction crane on the horizon. Then she continued to walk away.