One of the central paradoxes of Klara and the Sun is that, while Klara is a robot created by humans out of artificial materials, she gets nourishment from nature: in particular, the Sun. Even though Klara is a product of industrialized human society, then, she appreciates nature more than many of the humans around her. One of the recurring images in the book is the Cootings Machine (which seems to be some sort of construction vehicle that spews pollution while fixing roads). The humans that Klara observes all dislike the Cootings Machine, but none of them ever take action against it. This represents how many people have become complacent and have accepted the consequences of “progress,” which in the case of the Cootings Machine means putting up with air and noise pollution in the name of construction and further industrialization. Klara, however, sees the Cootings Machine as an evil that shouldn’t be tolerated, envisioning the conflict between the machine’s pollution and the Sun in religious terms. Klara’s outsider perspective helps illuminate how normal people have gotten used to ideas that, from the outside, seem intolerable. The fact that Klara takes action by destroying the Cootings Machine—and that people are happier when the machine goes away—suggests that there are ways to resist an environmentally destructive status quo. Nevertheless, the fact that the sabotaged Cootings Machine is soon replaced by an even larger Cootings Machine suggests that the challenges environmentalists face are formidable and can create a feeling of helplessness. While it is debatable whether Klara’s destruction of the Cootings Machine actually caused the Sun to cure Josie of her illness, Klara and the Sun nevertheless implies that there are benefits to protecting the environment, even when strong opposition makes these efforts seem hopeless.
Environmentalism Quotes in Klara and the Sun
When we were new, Rosa and I were mid-store, on the magazines table side, and could see through more than half of the window. So we were able to watch the outside—the office workers hurrying by, the taxis, the runners, the tourists, Beggar Man and his dog, the lower part of the RPO building.
The next morning, the grid went up and it was a most splendid day. The Sun was pouring his nourishment onto the street and into the buildings, and when I looked over to the spot where Beggar Man and the dog had died, I saw they weren’t dead at all—that a special kind of nourishment from the Sun had saved them.
“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.
But I’m remembering how delighted you were on that day Coffee Cup Lady and Raincoat Man found each other again. You were so delighted and couldn’t help showing it. So I know just how much it matters to you that people who love one another are brought together, even after many years.
The Sun was illuminating her, and the entire bed, in a ferocious half-disc of orange, and the Mother, standing closest to the bed, was having to raise her hands to her face.
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.