1)Write a detailed synopsis of the story.
The story Billenium is about how there is overpopulation in the world. Ward a 30 year old man leaves in a cubicle, like the rest of the world, located in the staircase between the fourth and fifth floors. He is one of the few many who has a big enough cubicle to fit a piece of furniture and a bed. One day while he was at the library, there was an inspection made to each cubicle in his building to see if they were the right measurements. When Ward finds out that his cubicle was going to be divided, he decides to move out and rent a cubicle with one of his friends, Rossiter, in the outside of the city. When both have settled in this apartment, they found a hidden cubicle next to theirs. Both decide to use that space and make into their own living room. They start to fill up that space with victorian furniture. Since they still had space, they decide to invite people to come live with them, but what they don’t realise is that, they can’t enjoy living in a big space and they get use to having less and less space.
2)Discuss the theme of overpopulation and the effect it has on both the way of life and quality of life of the inhabitants of the city.
The theme of overpopulation changes the way people live. Even though at first it looks like it is impossible to leave in a restricted place, humans end up adapting to those conditions. The main characters case is perfect to demonstrate this. When he and his friend discover a bigger cubicle, they decide to put big and heavy furniture and to invite people to fill up that empty space. When in the end, they all end up having to remove that furniture to make space for the people living inside.
3)The quest for living space has become an overriding obsession with the people of the city. Discuss this theme in detail. Include in your answer some discussion of the ways in which Ballard makes the quest for space dominate the characters’ lives.
The quest for living space is absurd because to have some extra space you need have to a family and at least three kids, which is crazy. By doing this, the people living in this society are contributing to overpopulation instead of finding a way to reduce it. When the character’s find a bigger space, they have the need to occupy that empty space with big furnitures or having more people live with you. When the characters do this, it shows how they aren’t able to have an empty space because their minds are framed in living in a small and cramped space.
4)What sort of relationship does Ballard put forward between the inner world of the individual (as represented by Ward and Rossiter) and the outer world in which they live. In other words, how does Ballard conceptualise the effect of surviving daily life in a hopelessly overcrowded city on the consciousness of the individual as demonstrated by the ways in which Ward and Rossiter manage the gift of space in the secret room they discover?
The overpopulation affects how people live in this society. People have to share the kitchen, the bathroom and the laundry room with their neighbors because when more cubicles are made the less space they have in their own which doesn’t allow them to have this basic elements for living. When they leave their house, they can have a pedestrian jam that could last them a long time. The traffic makes them arrive to their destination late. Not only this but it affects the places where they would go out to eat or have fun. There have to be stadiums to allow a bigger amount of people inside.
5)In the story, Ballard does attempt some sort of explanation of the social, political and economic causes of the extreme overpopulation that has beset the world. Explain his views as they are presented in the story.
His social views are that people are selfish, they think about only themselves and their families. We believe this because people instead of wanting and contributing with the reduction of population, they instead do anything to have some more space in the cubicle, which only happens if they have at least three kids.
The political views that Ballard try to show is that the government doesn’t do anything for the reduction of the population. They find a solution but it is not the one needed. Instead of doing something to control the number of population and reducing it, they reduce the space of the cubicle where people live in.
Ballard’s economic views were that people needed to pay more rent to be able to live in that small cubicle of theirs. This is a problem because having overpopulation makes people arrive late to work because the streets are crammed with people from side to side.
6)Do you agree with his argument? Do you think that current population growth projections indicate that we are likely to end up in the situation portrayed in the story?
Yes we agree, because at this time some countries have many children, so little by little they contribute with the growth of population in their country. If this continues to happen we will end up living in the same conditions as the characters in Billennium.
7)Describe and analyse Ward’s character in some detail. What values does he hold? Why does Ballard make use of this type of character as the main character for this story?
Ward is one of the protagonist of Billenium. He works as a librarian and he shares the cubicle with Henry Rossiter. He was the most affected when the Victorian wardrobe was destroyed to have more espace. He despises all the landlords that reduces the size of the cubicles to have more money.
8)What role does Rossiter play in the story?
The Rossiter is Ward’s friend and he is the one to persuade Ward on inviting people to live with them in the double cubicle.
9)Describe the role of the female characters in the story.
The role of the female characters in the story were of friends that they took advantage of the space that their friends gave to them (like inviting their family to live in the secret room)
10)Discuss the effects that overpopulation and its attendant ills has had on the nature of family life in relation to Ward’s family as well as Judith and Helen’s family relationships.
What the effect of overpopulation has had on the nature of family is that the overpopulation was caused by how families wanted to have some more space that they decide to have kids which contribute with this.
11)What does the secret room symbolised in the story?
The secret room next to Ward and Rossiter’s cubicle symbolized freedom, it was a leak or a crack that let them escape from living in a limited space.
12)Why do you think Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves? Is Ballard making a comment on how our inner world ultimately reflects the shape of the external world in which we live?
Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves because they were used to live in a small place called “cubicles” and when they found a big place, they started putting big furniture and then inviting people to live with them so they started reducing the space that they had. For me Ballard making a comment on how difficult is to change and adapt to places for all the humans and in this case, the protagonist didn’t take advantage of all the space that they had.
13)What sort of living arrangement do they eventually end up allowing (and accommodating to) in their secret room?
At the end of the story, there were seven people living in the secret room, and they divided that room in seven parts so all the people have their own “room”. At the end, they end up living in a smaller place than the cubicles.
14)Discuss Ballard’s style and language in the story? Consider also in what ways it is appropriate to the nature of the story being told.
Ballard uses different techniques of speech to emphasize his point of overpopulation. He uses hyperbaton and oxymoron to make the reader understand how he feels towards the society in his time and he wants to prove a point. The story also names the word “cubicle”, by doing this it emphasizes that we as a society are destined to live in a place meant to be in an office.
Comparing the video
Even though it is hard to believe, but we are getting closer to leaving in the same way as the people in the story. The video is a clear example of the leaving conditions the people in Billenium were leaving in.