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Referring  to "Robbie" by Isaac Asimov, how does this story show us something about...

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tazmae | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:57 AM via web

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Referring  to "Robbie" by Isaac Asimov, how does this story show us something about the human condition?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Isaac Asimov's short story, "Robbie" demonstrates how people act regardless of whether they deal with people or machines; the human condition will not allow them to do anything else. We can identify one aspect of the human condition based on the the central theme of the story, which reflects prejudice, an element of the story.

The story centers around the technophobia that surrounds robots, and how it is misplaced.

When Gloria plays with Robbie (a robot) at the beginning of the story, she treats him as badly as she would another child: she complains when she does not get her way, she is willing to use extortion to get what she wants in threatening to no longer tell Robbie stories. However, like a child, her mood improves as quickly as lightning, and she loves him dearly.

Gloria's mother, Grace, is guilty of prejudice. While she says that she is worried about the robot hurting her daughter, she seems more concerned about what people in the neighborhood are saying, and Robbie is "different" and she does not like him.

'There's bad feeling in the village...About Robbie.'

Another aspect of the human condition is the way Gloria's mom wears away her husband's resistance to getting rid of Robbie. She is relentless, like a child, until she gets what she wants. Gloria's father, George, can only withstand so much nagging until he, against his better judgment, caves in and gets rid of Robbie.

However, a positive aspect of the human condition is the dedication one friend has for another. Gloria cannot forget Robbie. Everywhere they go, and everything she does revolves around finding Robbie, who she loves, even though she is sometimes unkind (as humans often are with those they love). Ultimately, George takes steps to reunite Gloria and Robbie.

As part of the human condition, because Robbie is "different," Grace can only judge Robbie based on those differences. She cannot see the positive aspects of the "robot," or how much Gloria loves him regardless of whether he is a machine or a person. In essence, Grace cannot rationalize the dissimilarities in her mind.

However, her opinion changes when Robbie saves Gloria's life. Sometimes part of the human condition also includes learning from life's lessons. This story shows the basics of the human condition that are constant regardless of the circumstances that alter in the "equation," and how they can hold us back, or sometimes liberate us.

 

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