Neuromancer

Neuromancer

by

William Gibson

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Armitage / Corto Character Analysis

Armitage and Corto are two personalities who share the same body. The man was originally Colonel Willis Corto, a soldier in the last major World War. Corto was crippled in Screaming Fist, during which his plane was shot down. He survived by commandeering an enemy plane to Helsinki, but was left blind, legless, and disfigured. Several months after his accident, US Congress reconstructed him so he could testify at a trial ostensibly indicting officials behind Screaming Fist. However, when Corto realized the trials were a sham and many of the officials got off, he snapped, killing his congressional contact and disappearing into international underworlds of crime and violence. He reappeared in a French hospital, this time with a diagnosis for schizophrenia, and then disappeared for good. Armitage then took over. Built by the AI Wintermute for the purpose of leading a mission that will unite Wintermute and its other half, Neuromancer, Armitage is a shell of a person, a kind of flesh and blood puppet with no true motivations or desires. Armitage runs Wintermute’s mission for it for the first half of the novel, recruiting Molly, then Case, then Dixie’s construct, then Riviera. He brings them all to Freeside, at which point he begins to crack, and Corto reemerges. The body of the man dies when Corto, back in the driver’s seat, begins to think he is once again in the middle of Screaming Fist, and tries to eject himself from a spaceship in an emergency pod. Although a hatch is open, Wintermute overrides the safety, and Corto/Armitage dies in space.

Armitage / Corto Quotes in Neuromancer

The Neuromancer quotes below are all either spoken by Armitage / Corto or refer to Armitage / Corto. 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:
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Neuromancer published in 1984.
Chapter 1 Quotes

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void….The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case, Armitage / Corto
Page Number: 4-5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Our profile says you’re trying to con the street into killing you when you’re not looking.”

“Profile?”

“We’ve built up a detailed model. Bought a go-to for each of your aliases and ran the skim through some military software. You’re suicidal, Case. The model gives you a month on the outside. And our medical projection says you’ll need a new pancreas inside a year.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Molly (speaker), Armitage / Corto, Wintermute, Riviera
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

“So what’s he got on you? How’s he got the working girl kinked?” “Professional pride, baby, that’s all.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Molly (speaker), Armitage / Corto
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The Panther Moderns allowed four minutes for their first move to take effect, then injected a second carefully prepared dose of misinformation. This time, they shot it directly into the Sense/Net building’s internal video system.

At 12:04:03, every screen in the building strobed for eighteen seconds in a frequency that produced seizures in a susceptible segment of Sense/Net employees. Then something only vaguely like a human face filled the screens, its features stretched across asymmetrical expanses of bone like some obscene Mercator projection. Blue lips parted wetly as the twisted, elongated jaw moved. Something, perhaps a hand, a thing like a reddish clump of gnarled roots, fumbled toward the camera, blurred, and vanished. Subliminally rapid images of contamination: graphics of the building’s water supply system, gloved hands manipulating laboratory glassware, something tumbling down into darkness, a pale splash….The audio track, its pitch adjusted to run at just less than twice the standard playback speed, was part of a month-old newscast detailing potential military uses of a substance known as HsG, a biochemical governing the human skeletal growth factor. Overdoses of HsG threw certain bone cells into overdrive, accelerating growth by factors as high as one thousand percent.

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case, Molly, Armitage / Corto
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

He coughed. “Dix? McCoy? That you man?” His throat was tight.

“Hey, bro,” said a directionless voice.

“It’s Case, man. Remember?”

“Miami, joeboy, quick study.”

“What’s the last thing you remember before I spoke to you, Dix?”

“Nothin’.”

“Hang on.”

He disconnected the construct. The presence was gone. He reconnected it. “Dix? Who am I?”

“You got me hung, Jack. Who the fuck are you?”

“Ca—your buddy. Partner. What’s happening, man?”

“Good question.”

“Remember being here, a second ago?”

“No.”

“Know how a ROM personality matrix works?”

“Sure, bro, it’s a firmware construct.”

“So I jack it into the bank I’m using, I can give it sequential, real time memory?”

“Guess so,” said the construct.

“Okay, Dix. You are a ROM construct. Got me?”

“If you say so,” said the construct. “Who are you?”

“Case.”

“Miami,” said the voice, “joeboy, quick study.”

“Right. And for starts, Dix, you and me, we’re gonna sleaze over to London grid and access a little data. You game for that?”

“You gonna tell me I got a choice, boy?”

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“Thing is,” he said, “do you think he knows he was Corto, before? I mean, he wasn’t anybody in particular, by the time he hit the ward, so maybe Wintermute just...”

“Yeah. Built him up from go. Yeah...” She turned and they walked on. “It figures. You know, the guy doesn’t have any life going, in private. Not as far as I can tell. You see a guy like that, you figure there’s something he does when he’s alone. But not Armitage. Sits and stares at the wall, man. Then something clicks and he goes into high gear and wheels for Wintermute.”

“So why’s he got that stash in London? Nostalgia?”

“Maybe he doesn’t know about it,” she said. “Maybe it’s just in his name, right?”

“I don’t get it,” Case said.

“Just thinking out loud….How smart’s an AI, Case?”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Molly (speaker), Armitage / Corto, Wintermute
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

He vomited over a rosewood railing into the quiet waters of the lake. Something that had seemed to close around his head like a vise had released him now. Kneeling, his cheek against the cool wood, he stared across the shallow lake at the bright aura of the Rue Jules Verne.

Case had seen the medium before; when he’d been a teenager in the Sprawl, they’d called it, “dreaming real.” He remembered thin Puerto Ricans under East Side streetlights, dreaming real to the quick beat of a salsa, dreamgirls shuddering and turning, the onlookers clapping in time. But that had needed a van full of gear and a clumsy trode helmet.

What Riviera dreamed, you got. Case shook his aching head and spat into the lake.

He could guess the end, the finale. There was an inverted symmetry: Riviera puts the dreamgirl together, the dreamgirl takes him apart. With those hands. Dreamblood soaking the rotten lace.

Cheers from the restaurant, applause. Case stood and ran his hands over his clothes. He turned and walked back into the Vingtiéme Siécle.

Molly’s chair was empty. The stage was deserted. Armitage sat alone, still staring at the stage, the stem of the wineglass between his fingers.

Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“You are worse than a fool,” Michéle said, getting to her feet, the pistol in her hand. “You have no care for your species. For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible. And what would you be paid with? What would your price be, for aiding this thing to free itself and grow?” There was a knowing weariness in her young voice that no nineteen-year-old could have mustered. “You will dress now. You will come with us. Along with the one you call Armitage, you will return with us to Geneva and give testimony in the trial of this intelligence. Otherwise, we kill you. Now.” She raised the pistol, a smooth black Walther with an integral silencer.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

He closed his eyes. He saw the sacs of toxin dissolving in his arteries. He saw Molly hauling herself up the endless steel rungs. He opened his eyes.

“I dunno, man,” he said, a strange taste in his mouth. He looked down at his desk, at his hands. “I don’t know.” He looked back up. The brown face was calm now, intent. Maelcum’s chin was hidden by the high helmet ring of his old blue suit. “She’s inside,” he said. “Molly’s inside. In Straylight, it’s called. If there’s any Babylon, man, that’s it. We leave on her, she ain’t comin’ out, Steppin’ Razor or not.”

Maelcum nodded, the dreadbag bobbing behind him like a captive balloon of crocheted cotton. “She you woman, Case?”

“I dunno. Nobody’s woman, maybe.” He shrugged. And found his anger again, real as a shard of hot rock beneath his ribs. “Fuck this,” he said. “Fuck Armitage, fuck Wintermute, and fuck you. I’m stayin’ right here.”

Maelcum’s smile spread across his face like light breaking. “Maelcum a rude boy, Case. Garvey Maelcum boat.” His gloved hand slapped a panel and the bass-heavy rocksteady of Zion dub came pulsing from the tug’s speakers. “Maelcum not runnin’, no. I talk wi’ Aerol, he certain t’ see it in similar light.”

Case stared. “I don’t understand you guys at all,” he said.

“Don’ ’stan’ you, mon,” the Zionite said, nodding to the beat, “but we mus’ move by Jah love, each one.”

Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

“Wintermute won’t be the first to have made the same mistake. Underestimating me…He talked with me, Molly. I suppose he talked to all of us. You, and Case, whatever there is of Armitage to talk to. He can’t really understand us, you know. He has his profiles, but those are only statistics. You may be the statistical animal, darling, and Case is nothing but, but I possess a quality unquantifiable by its very nature.” He drank.

“And what exactly is that, Peter?” Molly asked, her voice flat.

Riviera beamed. “Perversity.”

Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
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Neuromancer PDF

Armitage / Corto Character Timeline in Neuromancer

The timeline below shows where the character Armitage / Corto appears in Neuromancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...Chiba Hilton Hotel. She suggests he drink a cup of coffee, and he obliges. When Armitage, Molly’s boss, enters the room, he startles Case, who swings his mug at him but... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
Armitage offers Case a deal—he says they’ve made a profile of Case that says his reckless... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...Sunday, Molly takes Case to a clinic in Chiba. He has decided to work with Armitage in exchange for reconstructive surgery. As they wait outside, Molly explains Armitage is paying for... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Molly has worked for Armitage for a few months, but when Case presses her for information, she explains she’s just... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
Case wonders why Molly isn’t with Armitage, back in the Hilton, and she straddles him in response. They begin to kiss and... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...his hand, explaining he’s “just taking care.” Case wants a history lesson, and asks about Armitage. Julie looks Armitage up on a laptop, but announces Armitage has managed to block himself... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...Case finds Wage and pays off the last of his debt with money gifted from Armitage. Case takes Molly to the Chat, and when he takes out an octagon of dex,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Molly, Case, and Armitage fly to the Sprawl, Case’s home, via Amsterdam and Paris. Case wakes up in a... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Later in the day Armitage arrives. He plans to hire someone to secure the room. Case observes Armitage’s face, which... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
Case asks if Armitage was ever a cop or security guard, but the man doesn’t answer. Case explains that... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...from the company Sense/Net to help their with their next mission. Although she’s working for Armitage, Molly doesn’t fully trust him. She knows he must be working for someone, but she... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Molly explains she hasn’t been able to find out much about Armitage. No one with his name took part in Screaming Fist, but she hopes Case will... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...this would happen, and so Case plays along. The Finn explains he’s doing hardware for Armitage, and delivers a black rectangle—a “flipflop switch,” which, when plugged into his computer, allows him... (full context)
Chapter 4
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...take breaks to go to the bathroom. After nine days, he breaks through Sense/Net’s defenses. Armitage criticizes him for taking longer than the one-week time frame he’d hoped for, but Case... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Back in the loft, the Panther Modern leader, Lupus Yonderboy, introduces himself. Armitage chastises him for letting the situation at Sense/Net “get out of control,” but the Modern... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...that she did a deal on the side with Larry to find out who owns Armitage. (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...Wintermute is an artificial intelligence. Based in Berne, it has Swiss citizenship. Wintermute is running Armitage, but, because AIs aren’t allowed autonomy, both Molly and Finn assume it’s Wintermute’s owners, Tessier-Ashpool... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...commission. Molly gives Case a paper with coordinates and entry codes for a database of Armitage’s. She asks him to crack it. (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...Dixie that he’s a ROM construct, dead but preserved. Case asks for Dixie’s help accessing Armitage’s data. Dixie jokes that he has no choice. (full context)
Chapter 6
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Together Case and Dixie access Armitage’s data. Dixie scans the files, reporting they’re mostly “video recordings of postwar military trials,” featuring... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...present a précis. Although it was full of holes, he has the main story: Willis Corto was participated in Screaming Fist, a mission to inject a new computer virus in a... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Back in the loft, Armitage calls and announces they’re going to Istanbul. Molly’s leg still hurts, but she has no... (full context)
Chapter 7
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Molly and Case arrive in Istanbul. They fly separately from Armitage, whose identity Case has not yet revealed to Molly. They meet the Finn in the... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
The next morning, Armitage calls Case, telling him to expect a visitor named Terzibashjian. Case tries to ask Armitage... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...Case drive to a museum, walk around, and talk. Case begins to tell her about Armitage’s true identity. Molly wonders if Armitage knows he was formerly Corto. Both Molly and Case... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Back at the Hilton, Armitage instructs Case to pack for Freeside. Case examines Armitage’s face for hints of Corto, but... (full context)
Chapter 8
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
Case, Riviera, Molly, and Armitage fly into space. Riviera creates illusions as they fly—including a giant sperm in Case’s drink,... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
Armitage and his crew stay in Zion for eighty hours, enough time for Case and Molly... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Armitage briefs Case, Molly, and Riviera on Freeside. Freeside is the shape of a “cigar,” most... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...but will also send Aerol to watch over them. Case wonders if they work for Armitage, but they cryptically explain they have “no regard for Babylon’s law,” only the law of... (full context)
Chapter 9
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...to Case. He explains what he is—an artificial intelligence who has been arranging things for Armitage. He explains that he is like a man with his lobes separated, the other lobe... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Wintermute/Deane explains how he’s put Armitage’s team together carefully, but that Armitage, who is “not quite a personality” and whose shell... (full context)
Chapter 10
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...existing situations.” He considers Deane could have acted alone, but also considers how Wintermute remade Corto into Armitage. He is a strong and subtle manipulator. (full context)
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
Riviera and Armitage arrive. Riviera asks Molly for more “medicine,” which she threatens to withhold. Armitage tells her... (full context)
Chapter 11
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At dinner that evening with Armitage and Molly, Case has the worst hangover of his life—his hands are shaking, and his... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
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Armitage has arranged dinner so they can watch Riviera’s “audition.” He is performing a “holographic cabaret,”... (full context)
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Case asks Armitage where Molly has gone, but Armitage doesn’t answer. Case asks why Riviera did that to... (full context)
Chapter 13
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...the charges “have to do with conspiracy to augment an artificial intelligence.” They tell him Armitage is already in custody. He clarifies, asking “Corto?” The police are shocked that he knows... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...a run but not know the nature of his target. Case insists he knew nothing—that Armitage was the brains, and Molly (whom they refer to by her alias, Kolodny) was “Just... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Pierre wonders how Case knows the name Corto, Case lies and says Armitage mentioned it. The police reveal they know the name Wintermute,... (full context)
Chapter 14
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...Aerol takes Case to the Garvey. Unfortunately, the Garvey cannot move on its own because Armitage’s ship has anchored itself to it. Maelcum greets Case as he enters the ship, and... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...“other lobe,” warning “one burning bush looks pretty much like another.” He also tells him Armitage is beginning to crack. (full context)
Chapter 16
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Dixie connects Case to Armitage, who is phoning in from the ship next door. Armitage looks “utterly crazy.” He asks... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...in the corner of Molly’s vision for Case from Dixie. He explains General Girling trained Corto for Screaming Fist, and that Wintermute has been appearing to Armitage/Corto as Girling. The fact... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Case jacks out. Back on the Garvey, Maelcum informs Case that Armitage/Corto is acting weird and giving orders about some war. Aerol and Maelcum talked to the... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
In the matrix, Dixie tells Case that Armitage/Corto wiped his Hosaka, almost wiping Dixie and Case’s computer as well.  Dixie passes on information... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Armitage/Corto’s insane face pops up in front of Case. He’s video calling from the other ship.... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Corto wants to escape. He thinks he’s in an airplane, and so can eject himself, however,... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...him put on a vacuum suit and cross the gangway from the Marcus Garvey to Corto’s Haniwa. Maelcum helps open the lock, and pulls Case inside the other ship. They make... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...an escape pod, and it is counting down. However, the seal isn’t working, and so Corto will die if he takes off. Panicked, Case tries to open the door to the... (full context)
Chapter 17
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Back in the matrix, Case watches Kuang expand and tells Dixie that Wintermute killed Armitage—ejecting him into space with his hatch open. Case is worried because he thinks Armitage was... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...Case watches Molly work her way through Straylight. He considers different types of insanity—he understands Armitage/Corto, a man who was broken and then reconstructed, but he doesn’t understand Ashpool. Case realizes... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...in the distance, walking across the body of the virus. Case accuses him of killing Armitage, and the Finn/Wintermute explains he had to; Armitage was gone, and only Corto (who was... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
Ahead of Molly are a series of holograms. The first is a cluster of caricatures—Molly, Armitage, and Case. Molly’s is hyper sexualized. Armitage has tiny screens in his eyes playing a... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...steps out of the shadows, holding Molly’s fletcher. He’s surprised to see Case, having expected Armitage to come instead. (full context)