Study Guide: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - BookNotes|
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free study guide for "The Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crichton.
THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN: LESSON PLANS / TEACHING GUIDE
Aboard an Air Force fighter on the way to Nevada, Dr. Hall reads a file
on Wildfire. On the front a warning states that anyone disclosing
this information will be fined up to twenty-thousand dollars; but Leavitt
reminds Hall the information is so sensitive that anyone reading it without
permission would simply...disappear. The file states the origin of the
facilityís construction, purpose, and explains the various levels of decontamination.
Strangely, both the files listing personnel and the file explaining the
Odd Man Hypothesis have been deleted from Hallís folder. As he
ponders this, the plane touches down in Flatrock, Nevada.
As we later learn, Hall is the Ďodd maní in the Odd Man Hypothesis.
And yet, that section of his file is deleted so that he canít possibly
know his role until he is quarantined within the Wildfire research
facility. Itís as if the team doesnít want to reveal this key portion
of information until itís too late for Hall to back out of his commitment.
Emerging from the plane, Hall sees nothing but a sparsely furnished Quonset with two pilots and a guard sitting inside. Leavitt and Hall drive a blue unmarked sedan down a pockmarked road towards the installation. As they drive, Leavitt confirms that the site down, in fact, have its own nuclear weapon capable of incinerating the entire area. When Hall mentions that the Odd Man Hypothesis section had been deleted from his file, Leavitt responds that it will all be explained later.
The two men drive into the Wildfire compound, which is surrounded by a cornfield and a chain link fence to make the entire facility look like a government agricultural project. As they walk through the station and enter an underground elevator, Leavitt explains that the cover is a fully functional agricultural station designed to grow foods in highly alkaline soil. Everything about the facility is designed to draw as little attention to the project as possible. Hidden sensors and guard dogs also protected the base.
Upon entering level 1, Hall must remove all this clothing, watches, rings, etc. and put on new clothing, in order to avoid bringing in unnecessary contaminants. Both fingerprint screeners and voice identification modules are used to verify Hallís identity. Afterwards, a robotic medical machine scans Hall for fungus, allergies, and also gives him an intravenous needle and booster shots. Walking down the red corridor to meet with the team, Leavitt explains that each of the five levels is painted a different color. Finally, Hall enters a room marked ďConference room 7Ē where the rest of the team is waiting for him. Stone removes a red key on a chain from his pocket and hands it over to Hall. When Hall expresses confusion as to the purpose of the key, Leavitt reminds Stone that Hall has not yet been informed of the Odd Man Hypothesis.
The men sit down and Stone explains how the process through which the nuclear device can be detonated in the event of major contamination. Stoneís silver is inserted on level one. It prepares the device for countdown and can never be removed. Hallís red key, however, will be inserted at the facilityís lowest level. There is a three minute delay between the insertion of the Stoneís silver key and detonation. During this window, it is Hallís responsibility to think the situation through and decide whether or not to call it off by inserting his own red key.
In response to Hallís questions, Stone points out that Hall is the only
single member of the team. Army studies conclude that unmarried individuals
tend to respond better under stress than married individuals. Hallís marital
status, when combined with his occupation, makes him the ideal person
to make the final decision on incinerating the station. The responsibility
is his alone.
It is interesting to fantasize the lengths to which the government will go in order to keep its plans a secret from the very people itís trying to protect. Crichton paints a picture of a secret underground laboratory designed to develop biological weapons. On the surface, however, it appears to be nothing more than a crop research facility.
The key to this entire chapter involves the Hall not being informed
of the Odd Man Hypothesis until he is already quarantined
within the facility. By the time he learns of his responsibility it is
too late for him to turn back.
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. 09 May 2017