Feb 12, 2018 #1
Based on the short story
"Test" by Theodore Thomas
I don't think you have to read the short story to understand what I've written because hopefully I summarized it well enough, but if you want to here's the link: tpsenglish11d.wikispaces.com/file/view/The+Test+by+Theodore+Thomas.pdf
Two Part Question:
Why did the author choose to tell this story? Support your ideas with reference to your story
Decide if the story could really happen and justify you response
The "Test" written by Theodore L. Thomas in 1962 is about Robert Proctor, a young man who is driving in a seemingly normal day with his mother, in reality he is put under hypnosis to experience an inevitable car accident as part of the driving test. When Robert signs the license application, he is denied and he is taken away by the authorities for still wanting to drive after the horrific accident he faced.
In this short story Thomas explores the themes of humanity's desire for power and control of others; to fulfill this hunger people will go to any extent regardless of ethical values. The government officials symbolizes the elite section of humanity who are abusing their power to control society by the use of hypnosis. Thomas with a background in law and chemical engineer, influencing his message shows the readers how imposing what one might think is beneficial for someone can be adverse and negatively impacting: "No harm done, son. You just took the last part of your driver's test . . . We hypnotized you to make you think you were in an accident. We do it to everybody these days before they get their driver's license. Makes better drivers of them." (pg. 2) Although this portion of the test appears to be beneficial for society it does not erase the trauma put on Robert as he still remembers the sleeping girl and his mother although unreal, and unavoidable dying in the accident.
The readers are meant to question the ethics behind the test especially after the officials deny him his license for Robert not reacting the way they had expected. "Nobody should want to drive a car after going through what you just went through. It should take months before you can even think of driving again" (pg.3) They fail to see that Robert handled the car accident reasonably well given the uncontrollable situation and that he was able to come out of the trauma, ready to face the road again. Instead the uniformed man jumps to conclusion and accuses Robert of how "Killing people doesn't seem to bother you. We can't let your kind run around loose any more." (pg.3) However, the reader knows that this is not how Robert feels, he experience the guilt of killing an innocent girl and his mother, even though it is irrational since none of it actually happens. The story raises an important question how can someone effectively judge something, if only looking at it from only one perspective?
Since the short story is written in 1962 getting one's license was not as difficult compared to today. Yet this science fiction story is very relevant to present day, due to the increasing amount of car collisions and number of deaths, especially among young drivers, the short story "Test" to some extent can happen. To make society safer the hypnosis can be used in a more positive manner and can teach people how to effectively respond to a car accident scenario, rather than manipulate and eliminate people allegedly deemed unstable. However, the government manipulating society can also happen today. What's interesting is that Thomas, deliberately shows how this is a common fate for people coming to test in the story's world. "As they pulled, his rubber heels slid along the two grooves worn in the floor." Driving is a huge part of society everyday life so by controlling who gets to drive the government also controls a big portion of society's social activities.