Toward the end of the novel, Mae Holland sees that the Circle has installed a huge aquarium in one of its buildings. In the tank, there is an octopus, which swims around, grasping onto everything it can touch. At various points, Eggers emphasizes the connection between the octopus and Eamon Bailey, the Wise Man who advocates most enthusiastically for total transparency and digital interconnectedness. The octopus, then, symbolizes both Bailey in particular and the culture of social networking in general. In the end, the octopus is eaten by a shark: this symbolically suggests that the idealism of Bailey’s philosophy of transparency is not strong enough to preserve itself in the face of ruthless power.
The Octopus Quotes in The Circle
He couldn't get enough of the shark, its anxious circling.
"Until next time," Stenton said finally. He nodded to Mae, and then to her watchers, who were now one hundred million, many of them terrified, many more in awe and wanting more of the same.