Study Guide

The Ear, the Eye, the Arm Technology and Modernization

By Nancy Farmer

Technology and Modernization

He heard the robot gardeners clipping the grass along a walk. Hoopoes called from jacaranda trees, but a microchip went on with a far better selection of birdsong. It was certainly beautiful, but Tendai felt a pang of regret at not being able to hear the real birds. (1.7)

Early on, Tendai misses something about the real world minus all the robots. Sure, it's nice to have a cook, maid, and cool gadgets, but sometimes you just want to go outside and listen to the birds. It's not really the same thing to hear a recording of birds singing.

Then, because the stretch limo was already humming on the antigrav pad, she patted them fondly and ran out the door. Tendai, Rita and Kuda waved as the limo flew off toward the University. (1.9)

Mrs. Matsika heads off to work in her flying limo. Luckily, they have an antigravity pad to dock their flying cars. We know these are still a luxury come 2194 because everyone stares at it when it picks the detectives up.

"Tell the Mellower I've programmed the pantry to provide a nutritious lunch, and this time he is to see that you actually eat it." She looked sharply at Rita. "Kuda, you may not tease the automatic Doberman. Its chain is almost worn through" (1.52)

Not only do the Matsikas have a robot pantry and maid, they also have a robot dog. As much as we'd love to get out of picking up dog poop (ew), we're not sure a robot is as cuddly as a furry pup.

It was Father's favorite workplace, fitted with holoscreens so he could stay in contact with the outside world. […] Tendai was always surprised by this artistic streak in Father. He usually seemed interested only in machines. (2.20)

Screens everywhere—that essentially sums up the General's office. Is it just us, or does it seem weird to stay connected to the world by staying in your home? General Matsika certainly has all the modern advances money can buy, but we can't help but wonder whether he needs to get out more. You can also stay connected by going out into the world, you know.

"Don't worry. We'll protect you. I'll program the pantry to say we ate those ghastly parsnips. The house robots won't tell on you. They don't know how." (3.51)

One of the coolest things about Tendai's house is his programmable pantry that cooks for him. One hamburger coming right up. They can have any food whenever they want, simply by pressing a button. The best part? There's even a robot to do the dishes. The future is looking bright.

It was blue. Its fur stood out in a handsome ruff around its face, and its tail hung down almost to the ground. It wore a leather collar attached to a chain. Its owner, who had a surprising number of bandages on various parts of his body, sat glumly in a chair and smoked a cigarette. "That's a genetically engineered monkey" (4.55)

A genetically engineered monkey sounds cool. That is, until we learn that it's a cross between the worst aspects of monkey, human, and pit bull. Gulp. Here we glimpse what happens when mad scientists experience far too much with modern tech gadgets. Just because they have the ability to make something doesn't mean they should.

Hanging on the wall were the only things of value in the whole office: three Nirvana guns, obtained at great expense when the detectives opened their office. They had been fired only once at the police training range. (6.8)

Ear, Eye, and Arm have a special gun that emits vibrations that stimulate the sleep center of the brain. In other words, it puts people to sleep. To check out what we like to think of as the nap guns, swing by the "Symbols" section.

He watched Ear feed synth-food into the microwave. A moment later, a sickly smell floated through the office. "I hate bacteria burgers." (9.14)

Mmm… Food made from sewage bacteria sure sounds tasty, but we think we'll pass. We're all about recycling and reusing stuff, but this one takes it a step too far. Sewage should just be left well enough alone. Leave it to the modern people in the book to find a way to eat it again.

"It's a screen with a three-dimensional picture in it. You say the number, and the operator dials it for you." But Tendai might have been talking Tibetan for all Hodza understood. "Well, what about the police? How do you call them?" (18.46)

Tendai explains what a holophone is to the villagers in Resthaven, but quickly discovers that it's no use. They live in the past. If you think telling your grandma about your iPhone is bad, imagine trying to your great-great-grandmother. In this book, not all people value technology or feel the need for it.

Arm studied them carefully. "They're called Soul Stealers. I've seen pictures in books. People say it's like getting hit by lightning. They're also illegal." (35.39)

Guns that blast a laser that looks like a lightning bolt? Yep, we can see why Soul Stealers are illegal in 2194; even the description of them sounds dangerous. Technology might have advanced, but that doesn't mean people are responsible enough to use it.

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