Ernst Junger was born in 1895. He participated in World Wars fighting for Germany. He wrote a lot in his lifetime. The Glass Bees is one of his works that gained popularity in those years. The book focuses on the job interview between Richard, the former cavalryman, and Zapparoni, who is a technological visionary and overload. Richard lives in great poverty due to his state of unemployment. He complains about the passing of age and longs for the simpler times in life. He is given an opportunity for a job interview with Zapparoni by his long time friend from the Cadet School where he once attended.
Richard notices the underlying power in Zapparoni that he has more knowledge of him than his intelligence when he finally enters the room. Richard differentiates Zapparoni from his initial friends Lorenz, Twinnings and Fillmore when he asks him a question. Unlike his former friends, Zapparoni has a great ambition in his speech. Richard is not sure on how to answer the question Zapparoni asks him concerning his thought on Fillmore's memoir (Junger, 9). As they converse, Zapparoni mentions the war that is very familiar to Richard. He has great knowledge in the area making Richard undergo several self-contradictions and contortions. Zapparoni ends the conversation claiming that he has other issues to deal with. He tells Richard to wait for him in the garden cautioning him of the bees.
While they are in the garden, Richard notices the glass bees using the sophisticated pair of binoculars. As he watches them, he realizes that the glass bees works efficiently in collecting the nectar compared to the actual bees. He is surprised by their effective coordination. As he continues to observe the bees, he notices a pond filled with severed ears (Junger, 10). He is tempted to contact the police, but he quickly dismisses the idea knowing that Zapparoni is powerful and can easily arrest him.The dilemma makes a Richard think of his childhood experience concerning Atje Hanebutt who was the chief gang in their neighborhood. He thinks of how he faced severe beating while he was trying to save a boy from the hands of Atje. He experiences further beating from his father when he goes back home.
Richard meets Zapparoni after leaving the garden, who explains to him that those ears had been detached from the humanoid robots. This acted as attest and. Therefore, Richard had failed the test. However, Zapparoni still offers Richard a different Job that needed clear moral discrimination. Since he has no alternative, he ends up accepting the Job (Junger, 22). He goes back home to his wife after buying her a beautiful dress. They later go out for dinner making Richard forget his experience in Zapparonis garden.
The principles, ethics, and honors seem irrelevant in the current society surpassed by technology. As he waited for Zapparoni anxiously, he realizes that Zapparonis reserved house looks old-fashioned not fitting a man like him who has made a lot of wealth from the robotics. The anxiety between the old and the new made Richard to think nostalgically about the historical doom of Cavalry that was surrounded by modern warfare. He strongly reflects about the murder of his friend Lorenz, who was not ready to be accustomed to the social changes and the growing rate of technological advancement. The death of his friend is an example of those people who could not remain firm in the current situation. He then focuses on his failure; he is not able to achieve success in his life (Junger, 9). The conflict in the mind of Richards is surprising, however, the thought is brought out in a narrative that is so much introspective and hence leaving the reader out. The reader does not feel involved in the conflict. In Chapter three, Richard goes for the interview; Zapparoni only joins him in Chapter Seven. Their first conversation occurs in Chapter eight where Zapparoni says hello to him. The answer to the greeting is highlighted in chapter nine. The exact story starts in Chapter twelve with the appearance of the Glass Bee.
However, the reader is not totally left out in the conflict that is significant in Captain Richard. He is wondering how he will handle his inner feelings of being alienated in the regimented and coldly logical society that is surrounding him and the self-doubts that have strongly engulfed him. It is clearly evident that Richard has developed negative attitudes towards the scientific inventions that are happening in the world (Junger, 20). He is not able to preserve his sense of decency and his basic humanity in the current society that has created bigger things.
Conflict arises in the mode of transport that is in the modern society as compared to the olden days. Captain Richard moans about the modern society that does not use the horses as their means of transport (Junger, 11). This criticizes the efforts of the society that is trying to replace the old things with the new ones. As it is brought out by Junger, the new inventions are portrayed as negative and detrimental to those of the olden days.
The novel happens to be ahead of time in many ways. Considering how Zapparonis robots are described, the description speculates how the technology would be short. Looking at the current society, it is speculated that in the future, the working class will be entirely replaced by the robots. On the contrary, Captain Richard is threatened with the inventions. He longs for olden days where everything was in its simplest form (Junger, 14). Moreover, the public discussion of the issue of morality that goes on in the current society does not impress him. In fact, he compares the discussion to the increasing rates of murder in the current society.
Captain Richard constantly reflects about his military service, the people he had met in his career and his schooling. His memory is shown to be good since he can think of every detail in his good times when he was in the cavalry. He despises the current warfare where the tanks have replaced the horses. He does not like the current tanks because they do not allow one see what they are shooting. He fears that he would not manage to secure the job due to his defeatist attitude (Junger,30). The attitude was manifested when he witnessed a group of robbers beating up an innocent man. The conflict between the technological society and classic humanity brought out in the memories of Captain Richard brings happens to be the best writing style that joins theme and content in the novel. The horses and his work as a cavalry are allegories that depict Captain Richards connection to nature. However, the connection is broken by the invention of new technologies in the current society making him feel that he does not belong to the society (Junger, 22).
Another conflict also arises of the current situation of Captain Richard, who is the novels hero. In the past, he used to be rich, a free man working as a Cavalry officer. Things go wrong on him in the current society. He is jobless and languishes in poverty. Richard and his wife blame themselves due to their current situation (Junger, 12). His poor financial condition renders him vulnerable in the modern society. The current society is characterized by private property, powerful corporations, personal police forces and eccentric personalities making it difficult for Richard to survive. He is not able to comprehend the new civilization.
The jobs in the present society are not appealing to Captain Richard. Back in the olden days they could fight using horses giving them a chance to look right into the eyes of their enemies as they shot them to death. In the current society, they are stuffed into an attack and hence do not have a clear vision of their target. This makes him feel disgusted (Junger,9). Moreover, the job of a policeman has greatly changed compared to the olden days. Nowadays the police are charged with the responsibility of guarding and controlling information dissemination and protecting investments. Such kinds of jobs seem to be unsafe for Richard.
Captain Richard constantly uses the phrase elated technical optimism to describe Zopparani. The phrase shows the struggle between the technological concept and its effects on the understanding of people of the community, peoples humanness and the community that is the center of the science fiction novel (Junger, 12). The robots are introduced in chapter one, but their usage is illustrated in chapter twelve. The robots work jointly in an organizational manner to reproduce nature and finish the task given to them. The interview of Richard and Zapparoni includes just a very short conversation, then go for a walk in the garden, and he later remains alone with the glass bees. Captain views these inventions as losing the sense of humanity (Junger, 25). Human beings do not see the value of interacting with each other as shown by the brief conversation between Zopparani and Richard. Moreover, the robots are taking the places of human beings.
While the modern society views technology as accelerating progress, the older generation views it differently. In the most cases, technology is used to accelerate power and capitalism (Junger, 139). Moreover, technology competes with human imperfection. The robots prove to be working better than the natural bees. According to Captain, humanity must choose between the human perfection that is incalculable and the calculable technical system.
In conclusion, Junger has effectively brought out the theme of conflict between the new and old ideas. The novel depicts a how technology is related to the lamentation of the lost ideal and natural past. The past is differentiated with the current society that is technologically oriented (Junger, 22). The novel reveals that technology and happiness are parallel, and hence one should pave the way for the other. The novel argues that technical perfection and human perfection are never compatible.
Junger, Ernst. The Glass Bees. New York: Noonday Press, 1960. Print
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