On pages twelve and thirteen of “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”, Delphi has quickly risen to fame. She has caught the interest of fans, and in turn, she has caught the interest of companies who wish to use her for advertising. This makes her supervisor very happy, who sees it as an opportunity to get better gigs.
This passage seems relatively tame compared to certain sections in the rest of the story. There is no grotesque imagery; no one is being openly hurt or manipulated. Out of context, this could all be seen as positive: Delphi is advancing in her career, hooray, hooray! However, a deeper look at the text reveals that it is not all as it seems.
The first sentence is filled with words that, if not read over again, could have been missed or ignored. “Here come the tests…” it begins. “Test” as if this were some kind of trial period for Delphi, as to see what she could really accomplish with her potential stardom. But what would happen if she were to fail this test? Delphi’s “button-nose” is described, a popular phrase to describe a cute nose – looking up “button” I discovered a definition that was “something of small value”. A button-nose, a term associated with appealing physical features, along with another definition, signalling that her appearance means little. What does it matter if Delphi is appealing if the mind who controls her is wasting away in a physical form that is far from the standard of beauty? And finally the “torrent of news and entertainment”, a torrent being a strong, often overwhelming and violent, stream of water heading in a certain direction. This is perhaps the start of the unstoppable swirl of circumstances that whisk her away.
When Delphi is given a suncar, it is said that she is a “tiger” trying them out. The first association I made with this was one of confidence and strength. You often hear the phrase, “go get ’em, tiger!”, and it corresponds with actively getting what you want. But this positive spin is stripped of its meaning in this circumstance. Delphi is not the wild thing she is perceived to be. She is the circus animal, trained and domesticated to perform tricks. While she still has the illusion of strength, the tamer is behind the curtain, holding the whip.