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Thomas’s short story “Test”

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“Test” written by Theodore Thomas, is a short story about humanities need for power. The power being that to control others ideas, opinions and self identity, through trepidation of divergence and government control.

The short story “Test” is derived from the fear of diversification and self identity. From the moment Robert Proctor wakes up from his hypnosis, the reader sees that the foundation of the world he is living in is based on control. The act of hypnosis itself, is someone going into your mind and telling you exactly what to do. Symbolism abounds in this short story, one in particular is that of the man in the blue uniform. The uniform symbolizes police and government dominance. After Robert signs the application to receive his license, men in white coats come to take him away for “treatment.” The men, symbolizing the government machine that is eating up the public in Roberts world. “Killing people doesn’t seem to bother you.”, “you sick and need treatment.” Thomas, here showing the reader that all people have to fit into the mould that is normalcy. The fact that Robert still wanted to drive after the pseudo accident made him “different’ and that had to be eradicated immediately. The fear of adversity of thoughts, and feelings is no more greater shown then when Thomas writes “grooves worn into the floor.” Suggesting many others have been in Roberts place, making the point that basically all of society goes when Robert did. All the others left over are too scared to drive again, basically making no-one on the road at all.

The hypnosis itself refers to another person controlling what you think and do as an individual. In the beginning of the story Thomas describes how Robert felt while driving,”he felt well rested.” It is stated that Robert perceives the girl in the opposing car to look innocent and trusting. However, that just might be how the hypnotist interprets her features, Robert might look at her in a completely different way. Later on we learn that Robert is hypnotised so these feelings are not his own rather someone else’s. Someone, perhaps the man in the blue suit, is telling him what to think, and how to feel. Robert in this situation is being directly controlled by the government. As if he were a machine, Robert, under hypnosis does exactly what he is told without any argument. It is only later when Robert is awake that he argues and states his opinions. And it is only when Robert is formulating his own thoughts that the men in white coats tell him he needs “treatment.”

In today’s society pop-culture dictates every aspect of life. To the way people look and dress and sometimes how we think. However, “Test” shows us that in the future it is the government that is in control. Throughout the story the main character is always referred to by his full name, Robert Proctor. This suggests that Robert is being watched and recorded all the time he is taking his test. Big Brother is always watching him, perhaps the men in white coats are observing him throughout his ordeal watching him like a lab rat. The man telling Robert what to do during his test is wearing a blue uniform symbolizing police and government control. In the short story “Test”, the government is like a Dictatorship in the way that is completely eliminates human diversity. The government uses scare tactics to prove its point, mush like East Berlin, Communist Russia, and modern-day Afghanistan.

Theodore Thomas’s short story “Test” is saying to the reader with precise literary elements, top-flight symbolism and complex issues that human diversity should be celebrated. Diversity is what makes this world an interesting and amazing place to live. Without people of different races, religions, and backgrounds life would be dull and boring. All people have varied ideas and opinions, and if anyone were to take that away from us we would all end up like Robert, slowly transformed into machines.

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