Study Guide

The Ear, the Eye, the Arm Chapter 1

By Nancy Farmer

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Chapter 1

  • Tendai wakes up to the sound of the house robot wishing him a good morning. It's 2194, and everyone has robots. Sweet.
  • He's groggy but knows he can't be late to breakfast; his dad would go nuts. Parents who get cranky when you disobey the rules? Looks like some things are the same about the future.
  • Tendai's younger sister (Rita) and brother (Kuda) meet up with him in the hall before going to breakfast.
  • Their dad is some big deal general in the military, and he treats his kids like cadets, so they each have to pass inspection before sitting down to eat. And you thought your parents were strict.
  • He tells Rita to stop slouching, but Tendai passes with flying colors. Phew. His dad is a little scary.
  • As they eat breakfast, conversation turns to the Mellower. He's late—again.
  • We learn that a mellower is someone who sings the praises of the family. Literally. So the Mellower's whole job is to tell the family how awesome they are.
  • When he finally arrives, everyone is a losing their patience, but then the guy opens his mouth and all is forgotten.
  • The Mellower starts by praising the general for his military successes and valor. Next up is Tendai's mom, who is a chemistry professor; there are many discoveries to speak of.
  • Rita and Kuda each hear about how smart and strong they are, and then finally, it's Tendai's turn. He's always last, and Tendai suspects it's because he's somewhat skeptical about the whole process.
  • Getting praised feels amazing, but also kind of tingly and weird—he always leaves feeling like he's been in a trance. Huh.
  • After the praises are done, Tendai's mom heads off to work in a flying limo. She tells the kids to do all their schoolwork properly before she gets home.
  • As she's walking out the door, the martial arts teacher arrives. Perfect timing.

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