Where will Mae paddle?

“The water’s surface remained calm even as she ventured deeper. Where it usually turned rough, where the water was exposed to the ocean winds, it was, this night, utterly placid, and her progress remained swift.” (Eggers, Page 267)

Eggers’ form here in this passage about when Mae ‘borrows’ the kayak I feel takes a sharp turn. Throughout the novel Egger’s detail is very concrete and sometimes very bland as if he is on a mission almost. When reading the imagery and vocabulary that Eggers uses in this passage (“ocean winds”, “utterly placid”, “moonlight casting”, ‘bright silver”, “black sand of the shore”, “mouth of the Golden Gate”, etc.) it gives you a different feel and emotion. It creates an escape almost for the reader as it does for Mae from her work. These two sentences stuck out to me the most because Eggers describes Mae’s trip this time completely different then he has in her past trips on the bay. I believe it is a metaphor correlating to Mae’s actions. By this I mean that Mae usually pays for the kayak and asks Marion every time. This directly correlates with Mae’s job at the Circle. It seems as if she’s a robot just following orders and not asking questions, doing what anyone tells her. In Mae’s defense, she is a relatively new employee, but that doesn’t account for how naive and oblivious she is to what is going on at the Circle. Going back to Eggers form, in the sentence from the quote above he says, “Where it usually turned rough, where the water was exposed to the ocean winds, it was, this night, utterly placid…” He says that it is “usually rough” which I believe again directly goes along with her work and it is just a boring desk job (similar to her last one I feel but she obviously feels otherwise) and the night she decides to rebel and basically steal the kayak, waters are smooth and relaxed. Mae is meant to break the rules and when she does she is happy. Her inner waters are calm, similar to the outer waters on the bay. Meanwhile at work she claims she isn’t stressed but she is and her inner waters are rough like when she follows the rules about the kayak and follows the rules at work. Maybe I am going out on a limb here but I think that that one sentence is a huge metaphor whether Eggers may have planted it there intentionally of not.

His language is what leads me to make this metaphorical comparison.   As you can see, When may goes out on the kayak stressed and follows Marion’s rules, the water is usually rough whereas when she isn’t stressed and breaks the rules as she did earlier that day with her encounter with Kalden in the bathroom the waters are calm. I feel this comparison is important because not only is this a story about the technology and the fear of what the future holds but this is also a story about Mae. It is fiction and we mustn’t forget that. Mae is a rebel for a reason and that’s what we are trying to figure out. Eggers makes her seem slightly clueless to the Circles ultimate goals for a reason and I believe she may resemble someone in the panopticon because she is so robotesque. I’m curious to see if Mae continues her lying and secrets after the assembly interview with Bailey because we just started to see her begin to be unique almost in bits and pieces.  Is Mae going to continue in the rough waters or stay curious along with Kalden and paddle into smooth waters?

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2 Responses to Where will Mae paddle?

  1. blueshoes324 says:

    I too feel like the bay is/was an escape for Mae. When things go bad in her life ie having to deal with Mercer or dealing with the fact that that her father has a devastating illness. However, I don’t particularly agree that Mae feels good when she breaks the rules. As we’ve seen throughout the novel Mae wants to please everyone. She wants to make the right decisions and be the perfect employee.

    I view this scene as the changing point in Mae’s overall story. As we read further, Mae becomes infatuated with power. She begins to realize that she is one of the biggest personalities. This is why she and Annie are no longer getting along like they use to.

    I also want to note that after this point when Mae becomes stressed out again and feels that emptiness she doesn’t go kayaking rather she returns to work in CE. Mae’s whole personality shifts after breaking the rules.


  2. amd197 says:

    I like the connection that you noticed with the rough waters seeming to occur when she follows correct protocol, but the calmer waters occurring when she does what she truly wants to do. To be honest, I did not catch that while reading, but now that you mention it, it makes sense. It seems as if Eggers wants the reader to believe that going out on a limb once in a while, rather than always sticking to what exactly is supposed to be done, can be a positive thing. In the case of stealing the kayak, Mae followed her heart on the moment and ended up having an unforgettable night out on the bay, that despite not being documented in any way, she herself will always hold onto dearly.


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