In "Test," what is the significance of the sleeping girl in the driver's test simulation?

In “Test”, the significance of the sleeping girl in the driver's test simulation is that she represents death, the kind of death that almost certainly would've been in store of her and for Robert's mother had the accident been real.

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After Robert somehow manages to rest control of the wheel of his car in the wake of a nasty shunt, he's immediately faced with another problem. This time, another vehicle looms ahead of him, a car driven by a man with a fixed look of horror on his face. He clearly senses that a horrific, unavoidable collision is about to take place.

Sitting next to the man in the passenger seat is a young girl, her lovely young face framed by curls. Amazingly, she's fast asleep, and Robert can't take his eyes off her sleepy face, despite the imminent crash.

As it turns out, of course, Robert is not really driving a car; he's using a driving simulator as part of a test. Before he got behind the wheel of the simulator, Robert was hypnotized so that he would think he'd been involved in an accident.

The face of the sleeping girl hints at the Big Sleep, the sleep of death. Had Robert collided with a real car in real life, then the little girl would have been put to sleep for good. Even worse, Robert's mother, who in the simulation was sitting next to him in the passenger seat, would also have been killed.

The whole experience is designed to make people better drivers, to make them more careful. But Robert, despite being pretty shaken up by the simulation, shows an unhealthy desire to hit the road for real. So he signs the license application.

To the authorities, this is a clear indication that he's not yet ready to drive. His whole attitude isn't sufficiently mature or responsible. As far as the authorities are concerned, after seeing what he just saw in the simulation, the last thing he should want to do is get behind the wheel of a real car anytime soon.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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