| Quote #4
"He was caught in the machinery," said the visitor at length, in a low voice.
This is our first clue about the kind of work Herbert does. Factory jobs were common for men in England in the early 1900s. This work was dangerous, due to the lack of laws protecting workers and the fact that machines were still being perfected. These lines also reflect the sense of powerlessness that pervades the story. Everybody seems caught in the machinery of life, unable to find happiness.
| Quote #5
"I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility," continued the other. "They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son's services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation." (2.25)
As machines became more and more a part of human life, the people who own them came to be seen as cold and unfeeling. Herbert seems almost disposable to his employers; he is only valuable as a person who can operate a machine. Do we still have anxieties about machines today?