Midway through the novel, Wintermute forces Case to dream of a wasp nest built in the window of his apartment when he was just fifteen. Wintermute compares this wasp nest—which disgusted and frightened Case, prompting him to destroy it with a flamethrower—to the Tessier-Ashpool family. Both the nest and the family, Wintermute argues, are self-contained but dangerous, evil and self-perpetuating. Wintermute manipulates Case into completing their shared mission, and uses the wasp nest to help Case focus. Wintermute suspects Case will be more effective if he has something to hate—a reason to continue his mission. However, Wintermute wants to make sure Case doesn’t hate the AI, and instead is able to focus his anger in a more productive way, that will help him be better at his job. Wintermute wants Case to hate the T-A family in order to better break through their ice, but in the end, Wintermute will settle with Case feeling generalized rage, which Case uses in the novel’s climax to navigate a virus through the T-A family’s defenses.
Wasp Nest Quotes in Neuromancer
“…Remember this?” And his right hand held the charred wasps’ nest from Case’s dream, reek of fuel in the closeness of the dark shop. Case stumbled back against a wall of junk. “Yeah. That was me. Did it with the holo rig in the window. Another memory I tapped out of you when I flatlined you that first time. Know why it’s important?”
Case shook his head. “Because”—and the nest, somehow, was gone—“it’s the closest thing you got to what Tessier-Ashpool would like to be. The human equivalent. Straylight’s like that nest, or anyway it was supposed to work out that way. I figure it’ll make you feel better.”
“To know what they’re like. You were starting to hate my guts for a while there. That’s good. But hate them instead. Same difference.”