Themes and Characters

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Singularity focuses on the relationship of sixteen-year-old brothers, Harry and Barry Kresner, both of whom wish they were not twins. Harry, the novel's narrator, is better at math and science than his brother, but is also more nervous and cautious; he allows himself to be bullied by Barry. Barry, Harry feels, is sometimes devious and resents having him around. When the two boys meet anyone new, it is Barry who controls the conversation, while Harry is usually silent. Barry, the handsomer twin, is the one who instantly attracts Lucy Coolidge when they meet her by the river. Nevertheless, it is Harry who figures out what is happening in the playhouse and actually takes advantage of its unusual nature.

Both Harry and Barry are emotionally immature, something that Harry does not realize until late in the novel. Harry's year-long stay in the playhouse, which takes less than an evening for Barry, allows him to become a year older than his brother. During this year, Harry matures through a combination of exercise, reading, and meditation. Harry emerges from the playhouse well-educated and physically fit, having read great works of literature like Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, and The Way of All Flesh, and having developed a muscular physique. When he is about to leave the playhouse, Harry finally realizes that he needs to take control of his own life and that Barry is not his greatest stumbling block. Barry has not changed, however, and is still bitter, although he seems to like the new Harry.

Most of the other characters are flat and undeveloped. Lucy Coolidge, a not very likeable farm girl, shares in the brothers' discovery of the "Singularity." She is present mainly to provide the twins with important background information on Uncle Ambrose and the mysterious events which have taken place in the meadow over the years. The twins' dog, Fred, a mere plot device, is trapped in the playhouse and ages rapidly, soon dying, thus substantiating Harry's theories about the singularity.

The other significant character in the novel is "The Approaching One," a creature from another galaxy whose approach to Earth frightens both twins. It turns out, however, that it is really a harmless machine which eats itself up. The creature suggests that human fears are often based on mistaken perceptions, in this case a distorted reflection in a pool of water in the playhouse.

Among the novel's many themes is the notion that sometimes individual people are imprisoned by their own unjustifiable fears and the idea that people can create and solve their own problems. During Harry's stay in the playhouse he learns not to take nature and everyday life for granted, maturing and learning that he is master of his own destiny. A tale of survival, Singularity shows how Harry survives his time in isolation, following a routine, developing his own holidays, feeding his intellect, reading and strengthening his body through exercise. In the end, he is in control of his emotions and is willing to face his problems.

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