In our Literature class, after reading the storyn”Billenium”, we were told to answer some questions about it so as to make a deep analysis of the story. I’ve worked with Luz Esteban and Juan Elia and this is our work:
1-Write a detailed synopsis of the story.
The story Billenium focuses on a man called Ward who lives in an overpopulated world. Ward, with 30 years old lives in a cubicle, like the rest of the world, located in the staircase between the fourth and fifth floors. It was bigger than other cubicles and therefore he was considered quite lucky. One day, when he was at the library, an inspection was made to each cubicle to check if they had the right measurements. Consequently, Ward realises that his cubicle was going to be divided and so he decides to move out. He rents a cubicle together with his friend,Rossiter, on the outskirts. When they finish settling in this new cubicle, they both found a hidden cubicle next to theirs. Afterwards, they decide to make use of that space and turned it into a living room by fulfilling it with a victorian wardrobe. Talking advantage of the space left, they invited people to move with them,which proves that they can not escape of their reality.
2)Discuss the theme of overpopulation and the effect it has on both the way of life and quality of life of the inhabitants of the city.
The theme of overpopulation modifies people’s lifestyle. Although at the beginning of the story it seemed impossible to leave in such a limited place, the population ends up adjusting to those conditions. This is perfectly represented through the main character: Wards as he was not able to escape from his restricted reality. Although he has a bigger cubicle, he fill it with a huge wardrobe and so turns the place into a limited one, once more. However, at the end, he is forced to remove those furnitures to make space for the people living inside.
3)The quest for living space has become an overriding obsession with the people of the city. Discuss this theme in detail. Include in your answer some discussion of the ways in which Ballard makes the quest for space dominate the characters’ lives.
The quest for living space is absurd because oficina the fact that for having some extra space you need have to a family and at least three kids, which is mad. By doing this, the people are increasing population instead of finding a way to reduce it. At the time the character’s find a bigger space, they have the need to occupy that empty space with big furnitures or having more people live with them. We can see that they are not able to maintain their space.
4)What sort of relationship does Ballard put forward between the inner world of the individual (as represented by Ward and Rossiter) and the outer world in which they live. In other words, how does Ballard conceptualise the effect of surviving daily life in a hopelessly overcrowded city on the consciousness of the individual as demonstrated by the ways in which Ward and Rossiter manage the gift of space in the secret room they discover?
The overpopulation as a consequence, disturb the way in which people live in this society.In fact, they are forced to share the kitchen, the bathroom and the laundry room with their neighbors because they do not have enough space left. When they leave their house, the streets have a pedestrian jam and so it could last them a long time to get somewhere. Also, the traffic makes them arrive to their destination late. The overpopulation as well affects the places where they would go out to have fun, for example.
5)In the story, Ballard does attempt some sort of explanation of the social, political and economic causes of the extreme overpopulation that has beset the world. Explain his views as they are presented in the story.
His social views are that people are selfish, they think about only themselves and their families. We believe this because people instead of wanting and contributing with the reduction of population, they on the contrary do anything to have some more space in the cubicle, which only happens if they have at least three kids.
The political views that Ballard try to show is that the government doesn’t do anything for the reduction of the population. They find a solution but it is not the best On my way! so it is not the one they needed . Instead of doing something to control the number of population and reducing it, they reduce the space of the cubicle where people live in.
Ballard’s economic views were that people needed to pay more rent to be able to live in that small cubicle of theirs. This is a problem because having overpopulation makes people arrive late to work because the streets are full of people from side to side.
6)Do you agree with his argument? Do you think that current population growth projections indicate that we are likely to end up in the situation portrayed in the story?
We do agree with this argument. Actually, a lot of countries have many kids, for which they contribute with the growth of population in their country.If these countries continue having huge amount of children per family, we will end up living in the same conditions as the characters in Billennium for sure.
7)Describe and analyse Ward’s character in some detail. What values does he hold? Why does Ballard make use of this type of character as the main character for this story?
Ward is the main charachter of Billenium. He works as a librarian and he lives in the same cubicle with Henry Rossiter. In addition to this, Ward was the most affected when the Victorian wardrobe was destroyed in order to make more room. He also hates all the landlords that reduces the size of the cubicles to have more money.
8)What role does Rossiter play in the story?
The Rossiter is Ward’s friend and the one who shares the cubicle with him. Moreover, he is the one to convince Ward on inviting people to live with them in the double cubicle.
9)Describe the role of the female characters in the story.
Judith and Helen were the two female characters in the story. They suffered because they lived together in a smaller cubicle that Ward had at the beggining of the story. However, afterwards they took advantage of the space the boys provided to them and their families.
10)Discuss the effects that overpopulation and its attendant ills has had on the nature of family life in relation to Ward’s family as well as Judith and Helen’s family relationships.
In that reality, having a family was considered as a benefit because it allowed you to have a bigger cubicle. However, they were still imprisoned in that suffocating reality. Although they were provided with a spacious cubicle, overpopulation was still a worry and it wasn’t being solved. Another problem was that as a result of the huge quantity of people, families were separated from each other because there wasn’t enough space for all of them.
11)What does the secret room symbolised in the story?
The secret room next to Ward and Rossiter’s cubicle symbolized freedom, it was an opening that allowed them escape from living in a limited space.
12)Why do you think Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves? Is Ballard making a comment on how our inner world ultimately reflects the shape of the external world in which we live?
Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves because they were used to live in a small place called “cubicles” however when they found a bigger place, they started putting filling it with huge furniture and then inviting people to live with them. By doing this, they started reducing the space that they had. In my viewpoint, Ballard makes a comment on how difficult is to change and adapt to new places for all the human beings. In this case, Ward was not able to benefit from the free space he had.
13)What sort of living arrangement do they eventually end up allowing (and accommodating to) in their secret room?
At the end of the story, there were seven people living in the secret room.Therefore, they divided that room in seven parts so all the people have their own “room”. However, they ended up living in a smaller place than the cubicles.
14)Discuss Ballard’s style and language in the story? Consider also in what ways it is appropriate to the nature of the story being told.
Ballard uses different techniques of speech to highlight the overpopulation existent in the story. For instance, he uses hyperbaton and oxymoron so as to make the reader understand his feelings towards that suffocating society. What is more, the author uses the word “cubicle” to emphasize on the fact that humans are destined to live in a place meant to be in an office.