Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278

The Circle confronts readers with several themes related to technology, and how to deal with an increasingly interconnected world. One of the most prevalent themes is privacy in the digital age. At The Circle, an Apple-like company at the forefront of technological innovation, its corporate slogan is, "All That Happens Must Be Known." Its leaders call secrets "lies" and privacy "theft."

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In one scene, Eggers describes an Internet contest to see how quickly protagonist Mae Holland's former boyfriend, a technology-adverse man named Mercer, can be found using GPS technology. When a drone tracks him down, he drives his car off a cliff and dies trying to escape from it. There are numerous other scenes detailing issues of technology and privacy, such as when Holland's bosses encourage her to send video and texts "sharing" what she does in her free time, and when a new app developed by The Circle can scan crowds and digitally recognize people with criminal records.

Closely related to privacy is the theme of idolatry. As you read The Circle, note how technology is venerated, and touted, through Eggers' characters, as the solution to virtually all of the world's problems. Ask yourself, what do the founders of The Circle think about technology? What future visions do they sell? In what ways do the founders worship technology? How is their faith in technology similar to religious faith?

Other themes to consider include greed, power, social relationships, and justice. Though The Circle might seem a bit dated, because it was published nearly six years ago, the questions it raises about the future role of technology and people's relationship to it will remain relevant for a long time.

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