What does the feed interlude at the end of the book Feed by M. T. Anderson symbolize?

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theyellowbookworm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Anderson’s dystopic world embraces the attractive nature of virtual reality. Titus falls victim to this allure as he refuses the discomfort and distress of actual reality. He submits to the culture industry’s call for continual entertainment and pleasure. Violet attempts to bring Titus into the state of actual reality, in an attempt at collective action, but she fails. Not only does Titus deny Violet in her last days, preferring the virtual reality state of vacationing to the moons of Jupiter and obtaining a new girlfriend. Even at the end, when Titus visits Violet in her comatose state, he refuses true reality. While Titus promises to tell Violet’s story, his version of her story sounds like a movie promotion. He narrates, “It’s about the meg normal guy, who doesn’t think about anything until one wacky day, when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold…Set against the backdrop of America in its final days, it’s the high spirited story of their love together, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, really heartwarming, and a visual feast” (297). While Titus attempts to ascertain control, he cannot separate himself from the consumer culture he lives in. His language illustrates a refusal of true reality. He describes himself as “meg normal, “a term that is used by Titus and his friends throughout the text. It is a term that is considered “normal” for those living in the virtual construction of reality, which Violet refuses. Additionally, Titus describes their relationship as a “visual feast,” which resonates more as an advertisement phrase than the quality hours the two spent together. Titus’ attempt at individuation is only surface level; it is a costume and not a true form of action. The end of the novel mirrors Titus’ lack of action. The novel ends with a commercial for blue jeans with “prices so low you won’t believe your feed!” (299). It’s a complete liquidation where “Everything must go” (299). Unlike Violet, Titus will not awaken to actual reality.

Titus is the everyman who is symbolic of the larger mass of consumers who sleepwalk through life. Violet is the anomaly. She is the exception. As readers, we are meant to sympathize with Violet and be angered with Titus’ behavior. Our anger, as readers, can be seen as Violet’s memory begins to disappear. Here, she sends Titus her memories so she won’t lose them. She argues to him, “Who are we, if we don’t have a past?” (253). Instead of opening her memories, Titus lets them accumulate until they overwhelm him. Without opening the memories, he deletes every one. Instead of confronting reality and the fact that Violet is dying, Titus reverts back to his simple existence, only living in the virtual present. He lacks the ability to function in actual reality, where he would be forced to confront suffering, and, therefore, clings to the virtual reality that has been constructed for him. Titus has to act in a callow manner so the reader refuses to identify with him. As a result, we identify with Violet and her struggle for individuation. Anderson constructs this dyad to assist the reader in identifying the need to take action.

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