Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 389
Annie is the female narrator of the story. Ben, her lover, laments that he and Annie “think far too much.” There is ample evidence throughout the story that Annie, indeed, thinks too much. For example, when Annie describes the first time she and Ben had sex, she says that she “concentrated really hard on letting go,” a sort of emotional oxymoron. Also, the fact that she consults a teacher at the community college to determine the rate of Ben’s backward progress indicates her intellectual, rather than emotional orientation.
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There is evidence too that Annie is aware of the way she overthinks life and is trying to change. At one point, Ben takes her outside, shows her the stars, and tells her, “There is no space for anything but dreaming.” She goes back to bed but cannot sleep and ends up outside again, trying hard to dream, as Ben suggested, but she is not sure how.
Though she over intellectualizes, Annie is not a cold or unsympathetic character. Her love for Ben is real, and she expresses many tender sentiments about him. Even when Ben becomes an ape, Annie says, “I didn’t miss human Ben right away; I wanted to meet the ape, too, to take care of my lover like a son, a pet; I wanted to know him every possible way.”
Ben, Annie’s lover, is “always sad about the world.” This is probably because Ben, like Annie, thinks too much. In fact, rather than just being sad and experiencing that emotion, Annie says that she and Ben would “sit together and be sad and think about being sad and sometimes discuss sadness.” After he becomes an ape, the bookstore calls to tell him that his “out-of-print special-ordered book on civilization” is ready to be picked up, indicating that even though Ben knew he and Annie were thinking too much, he was unable to stop. The night before he begins his regression, he tells Annie that he hates talking, and he wants to communicate with her just by looking into her eyes. Finally, it seems the only way Ben can stop thinking so much is to actually de-evolve, to stop being human.
Bender makes an interesting choice in naming this character: Ben becomes what has been before, what humans were before they were human.