Unseen paper: tips



Universal themes:

  • rite of passage
  • displacement, alienation (isolation)
  • empowerment (power relations)

Mother – father/ son – daughter



  • Postcolonialism (colonizer, colonized)
  • Inner vs outer self
  • Characters vs context


Mentioned literary devices

  • Point of view
  • Symbols
  • Pathetic fallacy
  • Metaphors/similes
  • Hyperbolic language
  • Specularity
  • Epiphany
  • Dramática irony
  • Tone/mood/atmosphere


Semantic fields

  • Pay attention to specific vocabulary (nature,daily life etc)


1. The story retells the life two friends, John Ward and Henry Rossiter, who live an overpopulated world in a distant future. The amount of space one person can occupy is only thirty eight square feet, and both friends share a “cubicle” to live in. They both have trouble dealing with the crowded city, where pedestrian traffic jams can last for an entire day. One day Ward discovers a forgotten room, with lots of space, adjacent to their cubicle. Both friends feel extremely exited, since their biggest dream had come true: to have more space. As they have lots of free space to fill up, they buy a Victorian wardrobe which they love and are really happy because now they are able to have it. Later, they invite their girlfriends to share the extra room with them. However, the girls ask their families to move in, which causes Ward, who used to despise landlords, to become a landlord himself, and only focuses on earning more money rather than on enjoying their new space. In the end, Ward and Rossiter need more space, since they had run out of it again, so the break up the beautiful wardrobe, which symbolized the thing they had longed for their entire lives, and now didn’t have anymore: space.

2. The problem of overpopulation leads to the issue of loss of privacy that is another main theme in the story. Since they don’t have privacy and space their lives aren’t normal. They have to wait at least one day of traffic and the size of the cubicles are extremely restricted.

3. The world is excedingly overpopulated, which causes the inhabitants in Billenium to become obsessed with the idea of gaining more space. They have absolutely no privacy and nowhere where they can be alone, which is what they seek. We can see this in the reactions of Ward and Rossiter when they discover the hidden room. More space equals a new, better, improved life.

4. L

5. L

6. L

7. L

8. Rossiter is more agresive than Ward, and he is the one who persuades him to let the girls move into their room, and later to remove the wardrobe. He causes them to lose their privacy again, and becomes absorbed with the idea of getting more space for more people, so he doesn’t realize he’s losing his own privacy.

9. L

10. L

11. The secret room in the story represents a new chance of having a new life, a more confortable one. It’s their chance of renovating theirselves and fullfilling their biggest dream. However, without realizing it, they end up ruining their chance.

12. L

13. In their secret room they end up allowing and accomodating to the same lifestyle they had before. Their room was much bigger, however they allowed so many people in that now it feels the same way as the smaller cubicle did before.

14. The author uses third person point of view in the story, and he chooses specific words to highlight the lack of space.