What motivates Paul to buy the farm in Player Piano and what impulse is he pursuing?

Quick answer:

Paul is drawn to buy the farm in Player Piano by a desire to escape his meaningless existence. He is deeply dissatisfied with his job as factory manager of Ilium Works. The sort of impulse he is chasing by purchasing the farm is idealism. Paul is convinced that buying the farm will enable him and his wife, Anita, to live a simpler life.

Expert Answers

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Despite his privileged position in this dystopian society, Dr. Paul Proteus is deeply dissatisfied with life. As manager of the Ilium Works in New York, he is a very important person in society, with a high degree of power and responsibility. And yet it's somehow not enough.

That doesn't mean to say that Paul is shallow and materialistic in any way; he's certainly not an inveterate social-climber like his wife Anita. What it does mean, however, is that Paul no longer feels comfortable in this society and is starting to reject its values. Even so, Paul can't bring himself to join in the growing anti-government resistance movement that's been brewing lately.

A friend of his, Ed Finnerty, has quit his exalted position in society and joined the resistance. But Paul's own personal act of rebellion is somewhat more modest: he buys a run-down, dilapidated old farm with the intention of living a simpler life.

At the very least, this shows Paul to have something of an idealistic, romantic streak. In rejecting the society in which he lives, he is at the same time imagining a better world—a world where there isn't the kind of exploitation and rigid social structure that exists in the dystopian society that he has come to reject.

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