The Circle: Equal Representation?

It was mentioned in class that Eggers intentionally creates a diverse world, in which all genders and races are represented. So I was just wondering, why didn’t he include LGBT+ characters? Eamon Bailey is said to have a wife, Mae has only dated men, Annie was described as having a lot of boyfriends, Francis says that he wait for women to realize he’s not going to make the first move, etc. Was that a purposeful exclusion, or am I just reading too far into it? Or did Eggers just have a personal spite against LGBT+ people?

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7 Responses to The Circle: Equal Representation?

  1. Steph Roman says:

    As I’m starting to study utopias, I’ve found that most of them are conducive to open relationships and sexual liberty, including homoeroticism and transgenderedness. This isn’t always the case–Plato’s “Republic” pretty much supports eugenics–but certainly in modern utopia, this idea is more prevalent. We haven’t gotten all that far yet in Eggers, but maybe this could be counted as a clue to the actual DYSTOPIC elements. Perhaps racially the Circle is “open” and “global,” but its clear-cut heterosexuality could be a sign of exclusion, expulsion, dystopia. I don’t know. Definitely a good catch, so keep your eyes peeled as you keep reading. This question might be answered.

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  2. elexiusmusick says:

    I got the distinctive impression that Alistair was gay. Now I’m worried that I may have stereotyped the character. Did anybody else get this impression? I did read ahead and don’t recall anything specifically pertaining to LGBT+ characters. I’m going over the book again this weekend, though, so I’ll keep an eye out for pertinent content.

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  3. kalihira says:

    I don’t remember any LGBT+ characters being mentioned. Looking at it, I can see why you may think Alistair was gay, though you may have stereotyped. I think the only time LGBT+ elements, for lack of a better word, occurred was between Mae and Annie when Annie was trying to get rid of Francis during that first party.

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  4. This seems like it might be an issue, sure, but I’m wondering what is at stake for us critically in bringing this up. If, as we’ve noted, the Circle’s openness to diversity is really a sign of a particularly advanced “liberal” late-capitalist control (it is), then wouldn’t the overt presence of LGBT characters signal the same thing? Like, look, we’re the Circle, look how open, diverse, and accepting we are? This is already what is going on. Do we need more? (Eggers, if not subtle in some ways in this novel, is considerably so in others.) Is it not implied that the Circle is totally “open” and “accepting” of all lifestyles (that support the Circle’s bottom line, which are all lifestyles that “express themselves” by connecting to the Circle)? Further, I think it is important to acknowledge how carefully Eggers deals with these issues throughout the novel and does not repeat the Circle’s exploitative “openness.” For example, I think it is very important that Mae’s ethnicity is relatively vague. He tells us that she has “olive skin,” but that’s about it, if I’m remembering correctly.

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    • Okay, yeah, that does make a lot of sense. I just wasn’t sure if it was a subtle hint at some limits to the Circle’s “open mindedness,” like Steph said. Although now that I think about it, if they weren’t open to sexual diversity, then Annie probably wouldn’t have used the “kissing Mae” excuse to get rid of Francis. However, Annie does seem to bend the rules when it suits her…

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  5. epiratequeen says:

    (Note: This contains no real spoilers, but I do mention a scene ahead of where the class is in the book.)
    I have definitely been thinking along the same lines. There is one scene where Mae blogs about the unfairness of a movie she’s watching with her parents towards the LGBT community, so we can assume that Mae herself, despite being heterosexual, is aware of LGBT issues and supports the LGBT community. She apparently gets a positive response to the series of zings she sends.

    I believe that The Circle is genuinely accepting of racial minorities. I don’t think they have an ulterior motive in this department except to truly be diverse. It’s never indicated if they use affirmative action in their hiring processes, but it’s very clear that the Circle hires people of various ethnicities and national origins. While it may be “part of the machine,” as Brad said in class, I don’t think there’s anything sinister about it.

    Perhaps the lack of inclusion of sexual and gender minorities is merely indicative of the fact that The Circle is not a perfect microcosm of the world. The campus is supposed to be so celebratory of diversity, and yet there are no mentions of LGBT groups, events, or people.

    I don’t remember getting any hint as to Alistair’s sexuality, and I didn’t like the scene where Annie said she was going to kiss Mae because it was later treated as something to be sexualized for Francis’s benefit.

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