Ready Player One

Ready Player One

by

Ernest Cline

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Middletown, Ohio Symbol Icon

Middletown is James Halliday’s childhood hometown. Its name indicates speaks to the fact that it is normal and average––an “everytown.” This is a contrast to Halliday himself, who was extraordinarily intelligent and eccentric from a very young age. Halliday had a very unhappy childhood; he was shy and awkward, with an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. Nonetheless, he is nostalgic about the pop culture of his youth and is obsessed with making replicas of elements of his hometown inside the OASIS. Indeed, there is even a whole planet, Middletown, in which Halliday has created 256 identical copies of his hometown. Wade identifies that it is strange that Halliday would so obsessively recreate a place in which he was highly unhappy. Yet as the novel unfolds, it becomes clear that part of why Halliday is nostalgic about Middletown is due to his love/hate relationship with the real world. When Wade wins the Easter egg, Halliday expresses his regret that he retreated into videogames so much and did not participate in reality more. Perhaps the prominence of Middletown inside the OASIS illustrates Halliday’s nostalgia for the part of his life wherein he spent more time in the real world––even if that world was a rather unhappy one.

Middletown, Ohio Quotes in Ready Player One

The Ready Player One quotes below all refer to the symbol of Middletown, Ohio. 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:
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Ready Player One published in 2011.
Level One: 0010 Quotes

I quickly lost track of time. I forgot that my avatar was sitting in Halliday's bedroom and that, in reality, I was sitting in my hideout, huddled near the electric heater, tapping at the empty air in front of me, entering commands on an imaginary keyboard. All of the intervening layers slipped away, and I lost myself in the game within the game.

Related Characters: Wade Watts / Parzival (speaker), James Halliday / Anorak
Related Symbols: The OASIS, Middletown, Ohio
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Ready Player One LitChart as a printable PDF.
Ready Player One PDF

Middletown, Ohio Symbol Timeline in Ready Player One

The timeline below shows where the symbol Middletown, Ohio appears in Ready Player One. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Level One: 0005
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
Nerds, Underdogs, and Obsession Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Halliday was born on in 1972 in Middletown, Ohio. His family was working-class; his father was an alcoholic and his mother had bipolar... (full context)
Level One: 0008
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
Nerds, Underdogs, and Obsession Theme Icon
Wade knows that he will find a replica of Halliday’s first computer in Middletown, the planet upon which Halliday recreated his childhood hometown. Dagorath, meanwhile is a word in... (full context)
Level One: 0010
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
The Individual vs. the Collective Theme Icon
Utopia vs. Dystopia Theme Icon
...has seen his name appear on the Scoreboard. Wade ignores them and immediately teleports to Middletown. He walks hesitantly, as the planet is a PvP zone. The planet is covered with... (full context)
Level Two: 0022
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
Nerds, Underdogs, and Obsession Theme Icon
Utopia vs. Dystopia Theme Icon
...called Happytime Pizza, a recreation of the pizza place Halliday frequented as a child in Middletown. Inside, there is a Robotron game machine and a note saying that anyone who beats... (full context)
Level Two: 0026
Reality vs. Illusion Theme Icon
Nerds, Underdogs, and Obsession Theme Icon
Utopia vs. Dystopia Theme Icon
Wade materializes inside a bowling alley with “disco-era décor” and a sign reading Middletown Lanes. He feels himself being pulled toward a door that reads “Game Room.” Inside there... (full context)