Study Guide

Neuromancer Violence

By William Gibson

Violence

Biz here was a constant subliminal hum, and death the accepted punishment for laziness, carelessness, lack of grace, the failure to heed the demands of an intricate protocol. (1.38)

In Chiba City, you don't get fired if you mess up. Well, actually you do, and your severance pay is a shallow grave.

[Zone] saw the bulge of the steel whip. "Cobra" he said, and raised an eyebrow. You wanna f*** somebody up?" (1.124-125)

Chiba City is a place where violence is so commonplace that people no longer even do a double take at the sight of it. Zone's cold interest in Case's weapon is a testament to that fact.

The two agencies, convinced that they were containing a horde of potential killers, were co-operating with an uncharacteristic degree of efficiency. Beyond the shattered wreckage of the main street doors, bodies were piled three deep on the barricades. (4.104)

The police are afraid the employees of Sense/Net have become deranged killers. Their answer to violence? More violence of course. It's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"He's a kind of compulsive Judas. Can't get off sexually unless he knows he's betraying the object of desire." (7.106)

Well that's disturbing. Riviera's a good old-fashioned sociopath who combines violence with sexual arousal. We see his violent desires manifest more when he has Molly hostage in Straylight later in the novel.

"Sure. I was crazy. Figured, I'd try to cut it. Hit the first strata and that's all she wrote. My joeboy smelled the skin frying and pulled the trodes off me. Mean s***, that ice."

"And your EEG was flat."

"Well, that's the stuff of legend, ain't it?" (9.31-33).

When iPads attack. As the boundaries between technology and humanity shrink, violence in the virtual world becomes an unfortunate side effect.

There was an inverted symmetry: Riviera puts the dreamgirl together, the dreamgirl takes him apart. With those hands. Dreamblood soaking the rotten lace. (11.38)

Although this display of violence isn't real, its connection with reality causes Molly pain all the same.

"Senator, he was. Knew his fat face right away. We were both covered in blood. We weren't alone. She was all…" (11.147)

In the novel's beginning, the violence of Chiba City was committed by criminals and the members of low society. But let's not forget that violence knows no social boundaries.

"You are a very rude girl. Suicides here are conduced with a degree of decorum. That's what I'm doing, you understand. But perhaps I'll take you with me tonight, down to hell." (15.75)

John Ashpool turns violence upon himself and commits suicide to escape the control place on his life by his late wife, Marie-France Tessier.

Twitching a corner of the quilt back, she found the body of a girl, white shoulder blades slick with blood. Her throat had been split. (15.87)

The girl is another clone of Jane Tessier-Ashpool. If someone can clone multiple copies of the same person, complete with memories and personality, then is murder still such a horrific crime? The depiction of violence in this scene seems to suggest that, yes, it's still very horrific, and we're inclined to agree.

The bamboo bow was a museum piece, but the black alloy quiver that protruded above [Hideo's] left shoulder had the look of the best Chiba weapon shops. (22.21)

Hideo's weapon displays to us his stance on violence. On the one hand, the bamboo bow shows that he has an old-fashioned code of honor. However, the black alloy quiver means he's updated his code to be useful in the future society.