Close Reading!

Hello all! For my close reading, I chose the second excerpt from “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”. The passage is found in the middle of the story and details an episode in Delphi’s – and P.Burke’s – new life. Delphi makes her debut in the European market and experiences overwhelming and unsurprising success. She withstands the flurry of the media, wins the attention of overseas consumers, and pleases her handler Mr. Cantle.

To begin, the passage is action-packed and proceeds very quickly. Multiple actions and reactions are captured in six simple lines. The swiftness of this action described in the passage – Delphi’s introduction into the advertising world and her quick ascension into the limelight and into the adoring hearts of the public – mirrors the rapid pace of the consumer capitalist world described in the story as a whole. As we all know, this phenomenon is very real. Products are constantly sensationalized and then just as quickly forgotten or passed up for the next best thing.

This dynamically vicious element of consumerism and the idea of selling a product with a product are over-arching themes in “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” and are further emphasized with Tiptree’s very particular word choice in this passage. Words like “feedback” and “register”, terms ordinarily used to describe viewer or consumer response, refer to Delphi’s emergence on the Euromarket scene. A “flock of viewers” pay close attention to her activity, like materialistic sheep heedlessly following trends. Delphi earns a “solid response” (a spike in viewership and thereby an increase in consumer demand) and is rewarded by Mr. Cantle with even more publicity, no matter how scandalous or dehumanizing (“a nude cook-show called Work Venus”), which was GTX’s goal all along.

The entire passage reflects on the larger themes of cutthroat capitalism and manic consumerism in the story through its structure and syntax. If someone were given a crash-course on our supposedly free market capitalism, I can rest assured that they’d be just as flustered, confused, and slightly disgusted as we all were as we attempted to make sense and find reason in James Tiptree Jr.’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”.

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