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A Window on the Universe Essay Question and Sample Answer

A Window on the Universe Essay 3

What does this collection stories suggest about humans? Do the stories show humans in a positive way?

A Window on the Universe does not portray humans positively. It suggests that they are vulnerable and naïve, and sometimes blinded by their emotions. However, human emotion is occasionally shown as a positive and beautiful thing.

Several stories show humans as naïve and therefore vulnerable; they sometimes refuse to believe surprising but important things. One pertinent example is in ‘Zero Hour’. Mink reveals various clues about an alien invasion which are obvious to the reader. However, her mother Mrs. Morris ignores the clues and ends up in grave danger as a result. This shows that adults, at least, are vulnerable to attack because of their naivety and assumption that they will be safe. In ‘The Star Ducks’, too, Rafferty initially shows contempt and disbelief when he hears about the aliens that have been visiting the Alsops. The Alsops also fail to recognise the significance of their alien visitors. The reader feels frustrated at their laissez faire attitude to aliens. Although these aliens do not seem threatening, we sense that this stupidity might leave humanity vulnerable to attack.

People are often presented in these stories as blinded by their emotions. In ‘Human Is’, Jill decides at the end of the story that she would rather live with a kind alien than a cruel human. Although the reader might agree with this decision, since the ‘new’ Lester is so much nicer, Jill could be interpreted as allowing her selfish emotions and attachment to the alien to be putting the Earth at risk of alien inundation. In ‘The Hammer of God’, the crew’s fear and grief over the apparently inevitable destruction of Earth blind them to the logical possibility of sacrificing themselves to save it. Only the emotionless computer, David, is able to logically provide this alternative.

Human emotion, however, is a complex issue, and can also be interpreted as beautiful and important in the stories. In ‘The Hammer of God’, although the crew are initially blinded by grief, they then courageously sacrifice their lives to save Earth. They even give a nonchalant speech to Earth before their sacrifice, to spare their families of their inevitable fear at their impending deaths. ‘Stitch in Time’ also celebrates human emotion, telling the touching story of human love through the eyes of an old woman, Thelma, who is reflecting on her life. The lack of emotion felt by machines in ‘Who Can Replace a Man?’ for example, and the cruelty that results, such as the team’s abandonment of ‘injured’ machines, reminds us that emotion can be a powerful force for good.

Overall, humans are not generally represented positively in the stories. However, some of the authors celebrate emotion as a unique and beautiful aspect of humanity.

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