Study Guide

Little Bee (The Other Hand) Technology and Modernization

By Chris Cleave

Technology and Modernization

A pound is free to travel to safety, and we are free to watch it go. This is the human triumph. This is called, <em>globalization.</em> A girl like me gets stopped at immigration, but a pound can leap turnstiles […] and jump straight into a waiting airport taxi. (1.4)

Little Bee is commenting on the irony of globalization – money can travel the globe freely, but people cannot, especially if they don't have money.

I am a born again citizen of the developing world and I will prove to you that the color of my life is <em>gray.</em> (1.36)

Little Bee is describing her brutal transition from a rural society to an industrial one. The bureaucratic processing she experiences in the detention center, coupled with her lack of a place to belong, leads to this sensation of grayness.

We looked as if we'd been cobbled together in Photoshop, the three of us, walking to my husband's funeral. One white middle class mother, one skinny black refugee girl, and one small Dark Knight from Gotham City. (2.8)

Sarah is very much a product of the digital age – her vision of the world is impacted by her interactions with contemporary technology.

I picked up the phone. The new text was indeed from Andrew. SO SORRY, it said. (2.163)

Sarah gets this text after the police tell her that Andrew has hanged himself. Some glitch delays Andrew's final transmission, so it arrives a good long time after he sends it.

"Me did a favor for one of dem immigration men, all right. He make a few changes on de computer, just put a tick in the right box, you know, an – POW! – up come de names for release. (3.244)

As Yevette reveals to Little Bee, their release from detention is a result of technological manipulation.

"Will you delete him for me, Bee? I can't do it." (5.116)

After Sarah accidentally calls Andrew (now dead) to get his advice on a problem, she asks Little Bee to delete him from her contacts, reminding us of the novel's UK title, <em>The Other Hand. </em>

I'd never let him know, either, that I scrolled through his BlackBerry, read his e-mails, read his mind while he slept. (6.148)

Technology becomes a road for Sarah to experience a kind of secretive intimacy with Lawrence, raising issues of technology and privacy.

It was less like a discussion and more like a terrible mix-up at the printers. It didn't stop till I threw the flowerpot at him. (6.165)

Sarah even uses technological terms to describe her fight with Andrew after her affair is revealed.

You live in a world of machines and you dream of things with beating hearts. We dream of machines, because we see where beating hearts have left us. (9.13)

Little Bee suggests that people living in industrialized, mechanized societies are alienated from natural life, while people living with limited machinery and technology are subject to abuses of power.