Billennium questions

BILLENNIUM, BY J. G BALLARD (1961)

 

  1. Write a detailed synopsis of the story.

 

The story is set in the distant future as the title suggests. Twenty million people are squashed into a city putting tremendous pressure on space. The city council has restricted the space that an individual can occupy to 4.5 mere  square meters. John Ward and Henry Rossiter are friends who share their tiny living space. They are both employed but find it hard to get by in the crowded city where pedestrian traffic jams can last for days with no one being able to move due to congestion. While knocking about their cubicle, Ward discovers a forgotten room adjacent to their cubicle. They are overwhelmed by this new space, thrilled, as they have never known so much. Together, they buy a Victorian wardrobe which is the only thing of beauty in their drab living area. Soon, Rossiter has the idea of inviting their girlfriends to share the extra room with them. The girls in turn ask their families to move in and take advantage of the space. Ward who had hated the greedy landlords soon becomes a landlord himself, with making money taking precedence over enjoying their new room. In order to make more space, Ward and Rossiter break up the beautiful wardrobe.

 

  1. Discuss the theme of over-population and the effect it has on both the way of life and quality of life of the inhabitants of the city.

In the society that exists sometime in the future, overpopulation has swelled to the extent that space seems to have shrunk. All available land is utilized to feed the billions and to live on is rationed to the extent that every individual was forced to live in a cubicle of 4.5 cubic meters. Even, if anyone wanted to move to a bigger place, the spare part of the room was given to another person. This, is added to the fact that the capitalist system provoked on the society the necessity to consume. By having more space they would buy more furniture which would occupy more space. This way, under these circumstances, they would live in oppression anyways.

 

Ward and Rossiter stumble upon an unoccupied room which is like manna from the wilderness. Instead of using it wisely, they invited their girlfriends who bring in their families too. Ward and Rossiter turn into usurious landlords who find that having extra space under their control makes them powerful. It is also a tool to make money. Soon there are so many in that room that they are worse off than when they had not discovered the extra space.

 

  1. 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.

 

At these imaginary future times, what transformed ordinary people into wealthy society was having land. By having more space, it can be rent and, therefore, be able to make money. However, that money would be useless because, due to the congested streets, people was unable to move to go and spend that money.

Taking this into account, when Ward and Rossiter find the abandoned room, and saw that it was having considerable success, Ward divided to become the landowner so he would gain money. Nevertheless, at some point, there are so many people in that room that they are worse off than when they had not discovered the extra space.   

 

  1. 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 over-crowded 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?

 


Rossiter and Ward hate the way they had to live, because the world is overpopulated and they don’t have extra living space. Also the hate of Ward that he has to landlords because they are so used to the society and his ambition of power, he became a landlord, something that he didn’t want.

 

  1. In the story, Ballard does attempt some sort of explanation of the social, political and economic causes of the extreme over-population that has beset the world. Explain his views as they are presented in the story.

The problem of overpopulation, where the people was having lots of children and also other people wanted to buy a house. An example of this is the law of the government which established that the families with more than 3 children would be given a bigger cubicle to living, this affected the population and then overpopulation affected the place to live.

 

  1. 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?

I don’t agree with this, maybe it could happen  the opposite, people could stop having children because they can’t maintain them or because they don’t want. If this happens it would be a problem to a point where humanity is going to exting.

 

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?

John Ward has a very “old fashioned” mind. He still hasn’t gotten used to the overpopulation so he thinks like us. He hates the society that he lives in and he hates landlords because he thinks they take advantage of people. But Ballard proves to us that we really can’t change the way things are, so Ward ends up becoming a landlord. That’s why Ballard chooses him as a main character, to prove that we will accommodate to survive .

 

  1. What role does Rossiter play in the story?

The role of Rossiter in this story is

Rossiter is very different from Ward though they are close friends. He is more aggressive in his approach and persuades Ward to let their girlfriends live into the spare room. This is a disastrous move as the girls decide to bring their families into the secret room. Rossiter is not sensitive to beauty and sacrifices the one thing that symbolizes beauty in their lives, the Victorian wardrobe.

  1. Describe the role of the female characters in the story.

After Rossiter convinced Ward to let their girlfriends live with them, the girls took advantage of that situation and brought members of their families into the room. They ended up being six people, “Now they are six beds now in line along the wall”.

 

  1. 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.

In that time and in those circumstances, overpopulation was common in that society. People were trapped in that horrible and hard reality and it was difficult to have that problem solve. “Over a hundred people lived in the top three floors of the old rooming house”, this quote means that there were millions of people and that they lived as they could and where they cold as they didn’t have space. So having a family was just helpful to have more space.

 

  1. What does the secret room symbolise in the story?

in our opinion, we think that the secret room symbolizes hope as well as freedom and illusion as they are always looking for more and more space, but instead of having the secret room for them, they fulfill the bedroom with victorian furniture and with a lot of people inside of it. The fact that they found the “secret room” which finally was not secret anymore gives an illusion to them that sometime they would break up with that reality but it was not like that.

 

  1. 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?

We believe that they couldn’t keep the gift of space for themselves because they were used to the reality of over population, the reality of not having space for themselves, of being uncomfortable and of not having any kind of privacy and letting go the things you have.

 

  1. What sort of living arrangement do they eventually end up allowing (and accommodating to) in their secret room?

Rossiter urged ward to let their girlfriends move in, who then, they brought members of their family into the room.  They let too much people live with them in the room with the furniture so they ended up without space.

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.

 

The author uses third person narrative all throughout the story. Words are chosen to highlight the crammed cubicles in which people live out their lives. There is no privacy or comfort. Describing Ward’s cubicle, the narrator says “partition pressed against his knees and he could hardly move”.

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The Berlin Blockade

In the History class, we were told to do a chart and to answer some questions about the Berlin Blockade.

Here is the chart:

This are the questions we were assigned to answer:

  1. What was life like in Berlin in the post-war era?

After the war, Berlin was divided into four zones; American, British, French and Soviet. The city of Berlin was devastated as it lost almost half of its population.
They were really poor and hardly noticed by other countries, they had lost everything.

  1. How did Soviet policy towards Berlin differ from that of the West?

Stalin wanted to keep Germany and the city of Berlin crippled and under his control because he didn’t want any part of Germany to recover so fast. The West had a very different idea in mind as they wanted to bring Germany back to its full potential.

  1. Why was reform of the German currency a key issue for both sides?

It was a key issue for both sides as It was easier to trade between them and because the three zones occupied by the allies united against the fourth zone which was under soviet (communist) control.

  1. Why was the airlift such a major feat?.                   The airlift was such a major feat because It was a smart move of the USA. The airlift proved the rivalry between communism and capitalism wasn’t just a simple fear, simple ideas, it was a big and very important issue. The Soviets and Americans both acted maturely and once the US proved she would not give up, Stalin reopened communications.

 

  1. In what respect can the USSR and US be responsible for further increasing tensions during the airlift?

USA decided to send supplies to Berlin during the airlift because the USSR, closed the roads and the access the allies had to get to Berlin. At first the US was scared of sending planes into Berlin because they were afraid of the possibility that the Soviets would shoot down the planes. Both countries were very suspicious of each other but, in the end none of them had war intentions.

  1. Why did Stalin eventually agree to talks over the airlift?

    Stalin agreed to talk over the airlift because he saw the strength of the allies. He saw that the allies were not going to give up as he had thought. Also, with the airlift the allies were providing even more help to Berlin that before the blockade so after 11 months of blockade, he reopened communications and the airlift was over.

Who was more to blame for Berlin becoming a major flashpoint in the Cold War, the Soviets or the Americans?

In my opinion, the Americans were more to blame, because Berlin was deep in the soviets’ zone, it was surrounded by communism. The US could have just let Berlin go and focus on another more important thing. However, Truman wanted to make sure everyone knew he was serious about the plans he had against the expansion of communism.

Letter In Pursuit of Happiness

Dear paul,

I am writing to you because things have gone out of my hands and I have become part of a struggling economic situation I cannot handle by myself. I wanted to ask if you could give me a hand and help me.

Since some months ago, I  have been with some economic problems because I could not support my family. However, some weeks ago, I invested our only savings in some Osteo National bone-density scanners, which cost me an arm and a leg. Since that moment, I realized that the money was insufficient to sustain my whole family so my wife got angry and my marriage turned out to be in the rocks. As a result of this, my wife abandoned and left me alone with my courageous son Chris J. It was very difficult to make ends meet and although I have found a new job, I am unable to pay the rent and so now we are even poorer.

 

As a consequence, we lost our car, all our possessions and even our house, we do not even have a place to live so we went to a homeless shelter, at first. Then, we have to sleep  in the subway station, one night that there was no room for us in the shelter. I wouldn’t ask you for help, if it wasn’t extremely necessary. As you can see, my hands are tied and there’s nothing I can do about the situation.

 

as you can see, we are trying to overcome the situation, But facing the circumstances in which we are living we are unable to do nothing until I get some money. I have never asked anyone for financial help but I must admit that the situation has now surpassed me that’s why I am resorting to you because you are one of my closest friends. I would be eternally grateful If you could give me some kind of economic support to deal with this problem. I promise you that I’ll return the money to you as soon as I can.

 

Thank you,

Christopher Gardner

Descriptive writing by Juana Zufriategui

Five years ago, my family and I travelled to hawaii were we stayed in an splendiferous house with a jewel-blue sea view. The sky was like a curtain of silk and the sea song of the waves soothed me. I was extremely astounded by the beauty of the rippling of the waves. When you look around, you can admire the perfection of the beach. The palm trees are lined in serried rows and dip their heads in obedience to the sea.

Moreover, I could appreciate the sound of the amazing birds rumbling in my head all the mornings. It was an empty silent beach where the golden sand full of corals

and sea shells, covered the floor as far as your eyes can see. Beside the fact it was full of corals, the sand was extremely soft like a bed of blankets and the grains were so fine that it could not possibly be visible by the human eye.

Finally, this beach had the most beautiful weather of all places in the world. You can relax lazily on the sandy seashore reading and appreciating the golden rays of the sun shining in the sky. At the same time, you can feel the warm and soft sand crunch between your toes and the heat of the sun penetrating your body. It was the most amazing places I have ever been to.