Study Guide

Waldo

by Robert A. Heinlein

Waldo Characters

Themes and Characters

Throughout this short novel, and many of his novels, Heinlein touched repeatedly upon technology. The theme of technology dominates Waldo, and it dominated his writing as a recurring character can dominate a series of books. He focused on many aspects of technology: the fact that effective technology uses the natural properties of resources available in particular times and places, the observation that technology which makes a noticeable and positive change in people's lives will be quickly adopted, and the opinion that people ought to use good tools. There is no point to a fascinating gadget, in this or any Heinlein novel, if somebody is miserable.

When the story introduces Waldo Jones, the man is as skilled with tools and inventing as he is unskilled with people. One would pity Waldo, feeble and isolated in his orbital home, except that he is contemptuous of mere ordinary intellects. As the story progresses, he refines his studies so that he not only answers a scientific query but changes tools and techniques to meet the needs of people using the tools. Waldo begins the story as a gross figure, obese and weak from myasthenia gravis. He ends it lithe and agile as a tap dancer, displaying how his inventions and deductions have improved his own life and health as they have revolutionized industry.

Waldo is a quintessential Heinlein character, first of all because he understands technology, and secondly because he applies it more...

(The entire section is 567 words.)

Waldo Characters

Waldo Farthingwaite-Jones
See Waldo F. Jones

Mr. Gleason
See Stanley F. Gleason

Stanley F. Gleason
Gleason is Dr. Stevens’s boss at North American Power-Air. He is the first to contact Waldo in regard to the problems with the ‘‘infallible’’ deKalb receptors which are causing air-cars to crash.

Grandfather
See Gramps Schneider

Doc Grimes
Doc Grimes is a somewhat eccentric doctor who delivered Waldo despite his concerns that something was wrong with the infant. Only Grimes has the audacity to speak plainly to the adult Waldo. He treats Waldo like the bright, but spoiled man that Waldo has become. He believes that humankind is gradually becoming weaker as they are continually exposed to low levels of radiation. He thus convinces Waldo to not only take on the problem of the failing deKalb receptors, but to find a solution that would also solve the problem of radiation exposure.

Dr. Augustus Grimes
See Doc Grimes

Dr. Gus Grimes
See Doc Grimes

Uncle Gus
See Doc Grimes

Waldo F. Jones
Waldo F. Jones is an eccentric genius who has a serious muscle disorder that renders him physically weak. To compensate for this physical handicap, Waldo has developed his mental...

(The entire section is 417 words.)