Billenium Summary

I want a short summary for Billennium story written by J.G. Ballard.

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story centers around two friends, John Ward and Henry Rossiter. They live in the distant future and struggle to find balance in their lives. 

The story is set in the distant future, as the title Billennium, would suggest. There are nearly twenty million people and they are squashed into a city. Having this many people has put an enormous amount of pressure on space. The city council meets and decides that the amount of space an individual can occupy is only thirty eight square feet. John Ward and Henry Rossiter are friends and they share a living space together. They both have jobs, but can barely get by. While they are at work one day, they decide to knock down their cubicle. During this time, Ward finds a forgotten room. The two friends are so excited to find this room, because they have never had this much space before. They decide to invite their girlfriends to live with them, who in turn, invite their families. With so many people now living in the room, Ward decides to become the landlord. He has always hated landlords and thought they were unfair and only after the money. The more he starts making money, the more he becomes just what he always hated. He has now put making money over enjoying and living in the new found space.

This story really is a wake up call for people. It makes us question how society has become so money hungry and only wanting more and more. Though published in 1962, the story has many elements of today's time. How are we treating each other? Is money more important than enjoying our life and friends? These are just a couple of questions this story makes us ask ourselves.

rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story is set in a future world in which the Earth’s population has grown enormously—“twenty thousand millions”—so much so that in order to feed everyone, humans are squeezed into megacities and the rest of the land is used for farming. The story centers around two friends, John Ward and Henry Rossiter, and their struggle to find enough room in which to live. Most of the buildings in the city have been given over to “cubicles,” tiny living areas four meters square with walls made of flimsy plywood. The friends obsess, like everyone in the city, over finding a better cubicle.

When the friends discover a hidden and unused room behind the plywood wall of their tiny cubicle, they are overwhelmed by the new space. But soon they decide to invite others to share their space—two girls, Judith and Helen, then Judith’s aunt, then Helen’s parents. Eventually the room becomes so crowded that it is no better than the cubicle they had before. The story ends with Ward becoming the thing he hates—a landlord.

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