“But with every passing mile, as she drove home, she felt better. Better with every mile between her and that fat fuck. The fact that she’d ever slept with him made her physically sick. Had she been possessed by some weird demon? Her body must have been overtaken, for those three years, by some terrible force that blinded her to his wretchedness. He’d been fat even then, hadn’t he? What kind of guy is fat in high school? He’s talking to me about sitting behind a desk when he’s forty pounds overweight? The man was upside down.”
Excerpt From: Dave Eggers. “The Circle.” Page 262
Character development is incredibly well structured by Dave Eggers in The Circle. I especially really like the design of Mercer’s character. It’s so interesting that he was an ex-boyfriend of Mae’s, even though they seem to have such strikingly opposite views. He’s uber conservative, while she’s incredibly liberal. Eggers clearly wrote this book with a positive tone of the Circle and with the beliefs that the Circle is doing good. At the same time, however, you can tell that it is written with an ironically complimenting tone. Eggers has tried his hardest to make us hate Mercer, even comically at times. It’s clear how much Mae hates him, eventually even driving him to his death, and not feeling as bad as she probably should have due to Bailey’s somewhat ridiculous persuading.
It’s great that Eggers made the character that most hates the direction The Circle is going in the despised boyfriend of the main character. It’s almost cliché, but I think Eggers meant to make it so clichéd. In the above passage, it’s so clear that Mae’s views have slowly been hypnotized by The Circle’s philosophies. She’s considering whether she has been “possessed by some weird demon” simply for loving a man who doesn’t agree with her new, incredibly radical, beliefs. At times, it seems Eggers intentionally made his characters exceedingly naïve. He makes it seem like the world cannot live with this new invasive technology, and Mae, in the manner and passion with wish she hates “that fat fuck” Mercer believes that wholeheartedly. The argument just prior to the above package spewed because Mae was actually trying to help Mercer, but Mercer wanted privacy, and no help from Mae instead, which was mind-numbing to her. It makes sense to today’s readers – we can probably even imagine our parents and grandparents reacting the same way as Mercer – but it makes no sense to Mae, because she is naïve and has learned to be around only people who share the Circle’s philosophies. Eggers captured that brilliantly, in a perfect way that depicts the Circle as an ahead-of-our-time technology powerhouse that seemingly knows all, while still depicting their weary over-the-top plans for the company and essentially society.
Eggers designed this novel so that it keeps getting more and more ridiculous as the pages go by, first with Mae seeming to get a great job at a great company designed to be like America’s favorite employer, Google, which then leads to some sketchy new characters (ahem…Kalden), some seemingly invasive new technologies, then some more extremely invasive technology, and finally death and corruption. We’ve been raised in a society to accept new technology. In with the new, out with the old. People stuck in the times seem to be old-fashioned, and lack trendiness and popularity. I really appreciate how Eggers made the all-knowing, all-seeing philosophies and technologies of The Circle close enough to the views we are heading to today, while still including a few bizarre ridiculous features as well.