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“The Machine Stops” by E. M. Forster Date: ____________________________
As you are reading, pay attention to any dystopian characteristics you see:
Dystopia definition: A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. Dystopias, through an exaggerated worst-case scenario, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system.
Characteristics of a Dystopian Society
• Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
• Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
• A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of the society.
• Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
• Citizens have a fear of the outside world.
• Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
• The natural world is banished and distrusted.
• Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad.
• The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world.
1. What does Vashti look like? Write one quotation that supports your answer.
2. Describe Vashti’s connections with others. (What has enabled Vashti to be accessible to other people?)
3. Describe the relationship between Vashti and Kuno. Give at least two quotations to support your answer.
4. What does the Book of the Machine say about “parenting responsibilities”? Does Vashti feel responsible for Kuno? Find a quotation to support your answer.
5. What is Vashti’s reaction to Kuno’s desire to walk on the surface of the earth?
6. Why does Vashti decide to visit Kuno? Describe the ordeal that this presents for her.
7. After talking to Kuno, “For a moment, Vashti felt lonely.” What comforts her?
8. What does the word “ideas” mean in the story? How do Kuno and Vashti differ on this?
9. Does religion of any sort exist in this mechanical society? Support your answer.
10. What are three things that Vashti dislikes about the air ship? What does this reveal about her and her society?
11. At the end of section one, what is the irony in Vashti’s statement, “No ideas here,” when she views Greece from the air ship?
Parts II and III
1. Describe and define “homelessness” in the Vashti and Kuno’s society.
2. What is Vashti’s comment about “worshipping” the machine? Using her reaction, what can you infer about how Vashti’s society feels about religion?
3. How does this society view physical strength? Why?
4. List Kuno’s discoveries he made while on the platforms.
5. Trace the symptoms of the Machine’s destruction from the beginning of Part III until the end of the story.
6. What does Kuno believe the future holds at the end of the story?