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All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein
Transcript of All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein
Baby is left in an orphanage
She grows up
Meets a man and has sex
Man leaves and then she finds out she is pregnant
Has a C-Section
Surgeon notices she also has male sex organs-- knowing that her female sex organs are destroyed he changes her into a he
Wakes up to find that her sex has changed and her/his baby is stolen
He becomes a journalist, using the pen name "Unmarried Mother"
The Unmarried Mother meets a man in a bar and agrees to a bet (given by the stranger who is a Time Agent) that his story is the craziest one he has ever heard
The stranger offers the unmarried mother a job
The 2 travel back in time; he meets his past female-self and seduces her
The time agent steals the baby
Unmarried Mother becomes the Time Agent
All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein
The message: People should be more independent and self- reliant
We believe that in the story "All You Zombies" Heinlein does not do a good job of conveying the idea that people should be independent and self- reliant.
Although time travel is necessary for the for plot that the writer has created to be possible, it confuses the reader and draws their attention away from the message.
The first line of the story reads,"2217 Time Zone V (EST) 7 Nov. 1970- NYC "Pop's Place"(402).
The author could have made this simpler
He uses jargon like "2217 Time Zone V"(402) without explaining what it means to the reader
Leaves the reader confused from the very beginning of the story
All suspense that the author hoped to save until the end of the story is revealed before the final pages; this doesn't keep the reader engaged.
"'Now you know who
is- and after you think it over you'll know who you are ... and if you think hard enough, you'll figure out who the baby is... and who
The author foreshadows the reveal which takes away the suspense
The reader can guess the the two characters are actually just one character
There are two different messages that the author could have been trying to convey which draws attention away from both of the messages.
“‘They could never be any use to you again, so we took them out and rearranged things so that you can develop properly as a man.’”(407)
The surgeon (a man) decides for her to change her sex.
Assumes she would want to be a man because then life would be easier
This is just one of several instances in the story where women are portrayed at weak.
"A Caesarean leaves a big scar but I'm so hairy now that I don't notice unless I look for it."(414)
Reader’s like “so? I already guessed that? Is this supposed to be a shock to me?”
Lack of suspense is boring for the reader
Combine this with the confusing plot the reader gets frustrated and just wants to stop reading as soon as possible
“There isn’t anybody but me- Jane- here alone in the dark.”(414)
When it comes down to it all you have in the end is yourself
There was really only one character in the entire story and he/she did all the work for his/herself
Therefore, because of a confusing plot, a lack of suspense, and two strong messages, Heinlein does not do a good job of conveying the message that people should be independent in the short story "All You Zombies".