What is the initial complication that gets the story started?
The initial complication centers on Lydia's anxiety. She is anxious because the hyperrealistic virtual reality glass walls in her children's nursery frighten her. This anxiety is really, however, merely an extension of her feelings about the mechanized home that she and her husband live in. This futuristic home does everything for the family—it cooks the food, washes the clothes, and cleans itself—so Lydia feels like she is somewhat obsolete. As she says herself, "The house is wife and mother now, and nurse for the children." There is no role left for her.
Her husband has also been feeling anxious lately. He smokes and drinks a little more with each day and is unable to sleep at night. He, like his wife, doesn't quite know what to do with himself in the mechanized house, and he, like his wife, feels completely unnecessary. The story's initial complication, therefore, is essentially the problem of purposelessness. Lydia and her husband live in a world where everything is done for them by computers and artificial intelligence. Their own sense of purpose is thus negated, and the result of this is existential anxiety.
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