Summary This text is a monolog. The person who is talking is a dentist. While he gives Mrs. Chigwell a dental checkup he talks about numerous things. His first subject is why he talks during the whole checkup, he does that to calm the patients. In his next subject he determines that he doesn't believe in socialism or any religion. He tells Mrs. Chigwell that his wife believes in these things and that she fears the future, if we proceed as we do now. Then he turns over to this idea of his. He has sort of invented, without actually building it, a virtual reality helmet. He thinks that everybody should wear this kind of helmet in the future. This helmet could take you to a kind of dream world, where you didn't have to worry about you everyday problems. His wife is of course against this because she thinks that the problems of today only can be solved by a democratic government. But he still believes that his helmet could help not only the lesser fortunate in our society, but everybody.
Analysis This text is as mentioned a monolog. We don't really get much information about any of the characters in the text. The only thing we know about the narrator is that he is a dentist, and that he is filling in for another dentist, whose wife got sick. The narrator doesn't support any religion or political institution, and he is not a nationalist. He is originally from Scotland, but he doesn't approve of Scotland, England or any other nation. The only thing he supports is Patrick Thistle football club, and that is because they hate everyone but them selves.
The narrator has this huge idea that everybody should wear a helmet he invented. This helmet should free us all of worries. This is kind of a wild idea, and I don't really know if he really thinks that this could turn out to be necessary. I don't know if he actually has designed this sort of virtual reality helmet, or if he just tells this story to his patients so that time would fly a bit easier, and so they don't fear what he might be doing in their mouth.
The narrator's wife is of a completely different kind of believe. She doesn't approve of his idea. She feels that these problems that the helmet would solve could be solved by the democratic government. She does fear for the future, she worries about the problems that could be just around the corner, like industrial pollution, unemployment, homelessness etc. But she still believes that these problems can be solved by democracy.
The narrator tells us his view of the future and what he thinks should be done. We don't get to see any of his thoughts, we only get what he tells the patient. He starts of as any other dentist would, by telling his patient why he is there and why the dentist that usually attends her is not. He then describes her dental situation, but after that he changes paths. He talks for some time before asking her if she minds, she doesn't. The only thing that stops his story is when his patient has to rinse her mouth. When she is back in the dentist chair he continues. He gets in on several subjects just to end up telling her about his great idea. He doesn't stop his speech until he is done examining her mouth. He ends his story in the same sentence as he tells his patient not to chew anything hard for a few hours.
The themes could be the human fear of the future. We all have this little fear about what's going to happen in the future. We all would like to do something to prevent some of the disasters we might fear. This text shows us the vision of one man, this dentist who is imagining everyone wearing this helmet, that would take away all of our worries, while his wife as a totally opposition. She thinks that the democracy can take care of our worries. This text shows us that there are many ways of trying to prepare for the future. You could try to invent something that could save us all, or just believe that we can manage by the democratic rules, and hope that mankind will survive as it has up till now. Everyone has their own vision of the future and nobody knows exactly what's going to happen.