Study Guide

Snow Crash Strength and Skill

By Neal Stephenson

Strength and Skill

In the messed-up world of Snow Crash, having money or the right connections will get you pretty far. After that—or if you're starting with nothing—you're on your own; no amount of bribery will cover the fact that you don't know what you're doing. Having the right skill set for the job could be a matter of life or death, like if you're a bodyguard or, we don't know, any of the main characters that constantly put themselves into risky situations.

On the flip side, sometimes skills pass out of social circulation, and then someone has to decide if they're still worth cultivating, or if they should give in to the demands of a new era. Case in point: Hiro. He considers himself the last of the freelance hackers, a dying profession. Is it worth him keeping it up? Reread the end of the book if you're unsure.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. Is a high skill level a good predictor of whether a character will survive the end of the book? Give examples. 
  2. Though we don't know much about Y.T.'s past, how would you guess she got started on the path to being a totally amazing skateboarder?
  3. Hiro's hacking and sword fighting are two skills that he has to train to keep up. Which would you say he spends the most time on, and why? 
  4. Which skills in the book require the most creativity?

Chew on This

Even just having the ability to gain a set of skills indicates that you're starting from a privileged position in life.

Every character that has a strength also has a weakness.