A structured enemy to the Circle

“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.

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6 Responses to A structured enemy to the Circle

  1. mjd105 says:

    I find it very interesting that you make this post very easy to identify with. I agree that most of our parents and grandparents would react similarly as compared to Mercer but have you ever thought about that example in the opposite? We, at our age, can also be like Mercer. Imagine a parent or grandparent getting a Facebook or twitter and constantly tagging photos of you or commenting on your pictures. All you want is privacy and yet there is not much you can do as they make a push to “invade” your privacy. Just figured I’d share another potential example you could refer to in the future 🙂


  2. thekid007 says:

    I never thought of how Eggers uses the strategy of making one of the few people that doesn’t like The Circle be Mercer, who is that ex that, as readers, we aren’t supposed to like. I wrote about the character developments that Mae goes through that you touched on. Mae went from loving Mercer just a few years before she began working for the Circle, to hating him, along with arguing with her best friend and constantly being annoyed with her parents who make her look bad to her company. The character transformation of Mae is definitely one of the biggest themes in this novel.


  3. zucconi says:

    When Mae rushed home for her dad’s false alarm, she found Mercer there. While not being pleased he was there, she was pretty civil. They did have a discussion on their conflicting views of The Circle/technology but it stayed rather calm. She listened to him and responded with other things than “fuck you Mercer.” I believe this shows how much has changed with Mae after assimilating into The Circle’s culture. She has lost some of her maturity in being able to handle conflicting opinions.


  4. pjm92 says:

    I really admire how you decided to analyze Mercer’s character being he is minor compared to Mae, Annie, Kalden, etc. I strongly agree and liked how you noted that Eggers makes his characters exceedingly naive. I happen to touch on that in my post as well. In Mercer’s case I feel that when Mae took the picture of his chandelier and was only trying to help, I still can’t understand why Mercer can’t just get with it and see that she can make his work very popular! Great post, very unique!


  5. pittpanther8 says:

    I find it very interesting that you were able to focus on a minor character from the story and get such a large message from it. The idea of “in with the new, out with the old” could not be more apparent in the sense that she upgrades everything. Starting with a laptop, she converts to her smart Circle technologies. But it is so much more than upgrading her computer. She sees Mercer as someone who could be considered obsolete like an old phone. The fact that she is willing to throw away the idea of being with Mercer, her ex-boyfriend of three years, so easily shows that the Circle has transformed her into only wanting the best.


  6. blueshoes324 says:

    I like Mercer’s character. Yes he doesn’t appreciate when Mae tries to help him sell more chandeliers but looking at it from his point of view, he did ask Mae to let him sell his own products. Mercer has made it clear that he doesn’t care for money he wants to have a personal relationship with his customers. Mercer is probably one of my favorite characters simply because he refuses to conform with the circle. He has his values and will not let the circle take it away like they took away Mae.


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