In every society, there is always that one exceptional person who is considered as an outcast just because he approaches things differently. He questions every aspect of life in that community. Be it economic, social or political he will analyze it. To others, such a person is a nuisance, but to me, such a person is a hero. This hero is willing to give his or her life to something bigger than himself. Kuno is such a person.
A hero is an individual who despite the many obstacles he undergoes he does not give up he still strives on until he achieves his objectives. Most of the time his people will not acknowledge his hero status. As a hero, Kuno doesn't necessarily save his people like how one would expect from a classical hero. While they were having a conversation with Vashti the whole city was in pieces (The Machine stops, 22). A classical hero saves people before calamity strikes. The author, Mr. Forster, had a stint in Germany tutoring which played a vital role in the book. The name Kuno means the brave one has been derived from the name Kuoni. Meaning the author wanted us to see the strength and courage of this hero.
The day we seize being curious that will be the end of mankind. As we keep moving forward with life, its curiosity which has led to the opening of new path and doors for human beings. Albert Einstein once said that it is vital for us always to query life to get answers and that's why curiosity exists. This was the kind of man Kuno was portrayed to be, a man riddled with curiosity. He questioned the mechanical nature of their existence; he questioned the essence of life under the machine.
To this effect, we saw him describe humanity as the creators of the machine thus his utter amazement at humanity living under servitude to their creation. It was utterly absurd. He saw it, in a sea of persons and some more aged than him such as his mother Vashti, he alone saw the absurdity of humanity existing only to serve the will of their creation. He exclaims that the machine in its creation was made by free-thinking, hopeful men, who had their thoughts and hopes on extending and easing some elements of their existence but not to create a thing that would take over their lives. Similar is our modern adherence to the governments and the concept of states we have created for ourselves.
As explained by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, (The Social Contract, 1762) humanity exist in its peaceful and coordinated nature because they have decided to surrender some of their freedoms and rights for the greater good of their fellow humans and the good of existence. Thus, it is referred to as the social contract theory as persons decide to abide by a social agreement to this extent. To this effect, he suggests that all human beings are thus born free with their natural rights. When related to the tale, we observe that the persons other than Kuno all have a false sense of freedom to which they hopelessly cling on to despite not understanding that they have given up all their freedom and the entirety of their lives to a system they created on their own and remain willingly bound to.
We see the truth of this when Kuno repeatedly tells his mother that she worships the machine and she gets angry and snaps back that she does not. However, through the entirety of the tale we see that she along with all the other people are all so attached to the life the machine has created for themselves that it is almost to the point that may be considered slavery. She cannot live with the silence, cannot bear to look upon the earth, wishes not even visit her son due to the sense of comfort and the life the machine has created for her. In everything they do, they worship the machine saying that it is all thanks to the machine.
Also to this extent, we see a sense of symbolism to religion dictating that they, in fact, did give up their entire existence to the mercy of the machine. The same is seen in their clinging to the book of the machine for solace or comfort in troubled times as people do their holy/religious texts. They also look upon it for instruction. As much as this text may depict the controversial elements of human existence, we focus more on the obvious implications made by it.
We see that only Kuno is bold enough to claim his rights. Only he dared to stand up and face the false reality created by the machine. Only he dared to challenge the system. In a world where men had no original thoughts and were encouraged not to dream, he dared to question this fact and thought of a better life uncontrolled by this dominating machine.
In eventuality, we revert to the fact that Kuno was an unsung hero. He gave light to their rotting existence, but yet the people remained bound to it, deciding to take no action even in the face of overwhelming evidence. This was in a sense symbolism for a people who fail to accept change. The machine WAS failing as Kuno warned and it began with the slightest signs such as wrong music and spread to the core of their existence being air and water. Through all this, the people were portrayed to be obstinate and they simply adapted their lives to that new condition still believing that the resolve was in the system, which was already doomed to fail.
Such is very evident in our societies as we observe people looking upon corrupt governments to rescue themselves from corruption, third world countries looking upon their colonial masters to rescue them from poverty caused by the colonialists own plundering of their resources, and in the US, native Americans looking upon the same individuals who violated their rights and stole their land to reaffirm their rights. All these are dead systems which people still put hope in.
As is evident throughout the entirety of our history, including biblically and evolutionarily, there has always been needing for the death of an old system for new hope to rise. The same was well portrayed in the book as Kuno, and his entire race had to die for the Surface dwellers that Kuno spoke of to rise as a people. They would learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and not repeat these mistakes as seen through history and as Kuno assured his mother at their demise. The unsung hero decided not to abandon his people and to be part of the ailing generation went down with it and would only hopefully be remembered by the surface dwellers as the light who dared to rise against the system.
However, in my premature thinking, I believe Kuno, who was already destined to die, could have done more in attempts to rescue his generation, despite their inevitable deaths for want of change.
Zimmermann, Ana Cristina, and W. John Morgan. "E. M. Forester's 'The Machine Stops': Humans, Technology, and Dialogue." AI & SOCIETY (2017): n. Page. Web.
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