Unseen paper tips

These are are tips that Pato gave us to write the essays on Unseen Paper.

Universal themes→Rite of Passage → Displacement, alineation (isolation) Empowerment (power relations)–> mother-father/ son-daughter –> wife/husband –> Boss/employee → Postcolonialism (colonizer-colonized) → Inner vs. Outer self → Characters vs. Context

Mention literary devices→ point of view→ symbols→ pathetic fallacy→ metaphors/similes→ hyperbolic language→ specularity→epiphany→ dramatic irony→ tone/mood/atomsphere

Semantic fields→ pay attention to specific vocabulary(nature, daily Life,etc)


In our literature class when we finished reading the short story Billenium written by J. G Ballard, Lucas and I answered some questions, here they are.

Task 1: Questions

  1. Write a detailed synopsis of the story.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  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?
  8. What role does Rossiter play in the story?
  9. Describe the role of the female characters in the story.
  10. Discuss the effects that over-population 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.
  11. What does the secret room symbolise in the story?
  12. 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?
  13. What sort of living arrangement do they eventually end up allowing (and accommodating to) in their secret room?
  14. 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.



1- The story Billenium is about the world in the future and the main problem is overpopulation. There is no space for people to live, so they have to live in small cubicles. Also, instead of having vehicle traffic, there is pedestrian traffic, the streets are overcrowded and you have to wait a lot of time just to eat lunch or other food. The only way people could get a cubicle with more space, they had to be married and have sons. The two main characters, Ward and Rossiter, lived in different cubicles,but both of them were asked for more money and have a smaller room, so they decided to go and live together. When they went to the room, Ward got angry and punched the wall. The hole in the wall led to a big room of 15 square meters, a dream for them. So, they moved to that enormous room and they had the advantage that no authorities lived in that building, so they didn’t have anything to be scared about. Then, two friends from the main characters were kicked from their houses, so they invited them to live in their room. After that, they were inviting relatives from the people living in there because of different reason. At one moment, the big room they had, finished being a lot of small cubicles.

2- The theme over-population has swelled to the extent that space seems to have shrunk.

3-The people in Billenium, have a quest for living space. This happens because space is a very valuable object and people want it very desperately. What happened in the story was that when the protagonists had a lot of space, they could not resist but reduce it because they were used to living in small cubicles.

4- The inner characters, Ward and Rossiter, complain about the outer world and how the government passes ineffective laws that try to deal with the main world problem, overpopulation.

5- Ballard does attempt some sort of explanation of the social, political and economic causes of the extreme overpopulation that has beset the world and the causes were that the government said that if you wanted to have more space, what people most desired, you had to have at least three children. So, this made the problem of overpopulation even worse.

6- I do not think that people in the future will live in cubicles of 3 1/2 square meters. I think this because a lot of solutions are being taken with the situation of overpopulation and the growth of the population.

7- Ballard makes use of Ward type of character as the main character for this story because he wants to show how humans become accustomed to everything. For example, in the story, Ward hates landlords because they reduce the space of the cubicles they rent to gain more money, but then, Ward finishes being a landlord.

8- Rossiter´s role in the story, is to be friends with Ward and he is the one who started inviting people to live in their big room, so, in other words, he is the one who divided the big room into a lot of cubicles.

9- The role of the female characters in the story were to be friends that they took advantage of the space that their friends gave to them, like inviting their family to live in the secret room.

10- What the effect of overpopulation has had on the nature of family is that the overpopulation was caused by how families wanted to have some more space that they decide to have kids which contribute with this.

11- The secret room next to Ward and Rossiter’s cubicle symbolized the need of privacy, also the lack of freedom and power.

12- Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves because they were used to live in a small place called “cubicles” and when they found a big place, they started putting big furniture and then inviting people to live with them so they started reducing the space that they had. For me Ballard making a comment on how difficult is to change and adapt to places for all the humans and in this case, the protagonist didn’t take advantage of all the space that they had.

13- At the end of the story, there were seven people living in the secret room, and they divided that room in seven parts so all the people have their own “room”. At the end, they end up living in a smaller place than the cubicles.

14- Ballard uses different techniques of speech to emphasize his point of overpopulation. He uses hyperbaton and oxymoron to make the reader understand how he feels towards the society in his time and he wants to prove a point. The story also names the word “cubicle”, by doing this it emphasizes that we as a society are destined to live in a place meant to be in an office.

Task 2

Have a look at this video and compare it to the short story we have read!! (Thanks Alina Claps for sharing this video!!)

The video shows how real cubicles are and they are similar as the ones that appear in the stories, the story does not have any drawings, but by the descriptions given, we can understand the cubicles in the video are the same.

Cierre del libro “Los Viajes de Gulliver”

Después de terminar de leer “Los viajes de Gulliver”, nos dividimos en grupos y dibujamos los distintos lugares a los que el personaje Gulliver fue. Nuestro grupo dibujó el “continente” y …

Descripción del “continente”: Cuando Gulliver llegó al continente lo recibió el ex/gobernante en su mansión llena de riquezas. Luego partieron hacia la casa de campo y en su viaje observaron un pueblo que parecía devastado; la gente vestía taparrabos, se las veía sin esperanza alguna, con casas mal construidas, las tierras incultivables. El gobernador le explicó que vivían  en extrema pobreza a causa de que un grupo de personas subieron a Laputa y volvieron con ideas innovadoras, esas ideas fueron desarrolladas en la Academia, institución fundada por los mismos que trajeron las ideas. Esas ideas fracasaron y acabaron destruyendo el pueblo.