Ready Player One

Ready Player One Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Egg (Symbol)

Halliday’s Easter egg symbolizes ultimate power. With it, Wade becomes Anorak (Halliday's avatar) and has the power to give or take life within the OASIS. With the egg also comes wealth and absolute freedom. The golden egg is the promise of wealth, obtainable by only a single winner. It is also an important symbol for Wade. It represents the status of finally escaping the poverty that plagues him both inside and outside of the OASIS.

The Keys (Symbol)

The keys symbolize the power of knowledge to open closed doors and create opportunities. Three keys are central to Halliday's contest. Each of the contests for the keys was a test of knowledge, and could only be gained by knowing Halliday incredibly well. This knowledge could only be gained through an intense devotion to the art of learning everything there was to know about Halliday.

The OASIS (Allegory)

Perhaps the most obvious allegory lies within the novel’s setting: the OASIS. It offers itself as an alternate reality to the miserable and depleted world the human race has created in the year 2045. It is an allegory of escapism, using technology to engage all the senses, giving the illusion that this imaginary world is real. It also represents an ideal world: an image of what could be achieved if people directed their efforts towards the real world and not the OASIS. It is a world not only of heroic quests and zero-gravity nightclubs, but a stable society with great education systems, and delimited areas that restrict and place rules on combat. It manages to achieve a level of safety and provides access to jobs and education that the real world cannot provide.

Exit Button (Symbol)

Halliday wrote OASIS with an Exit button which would allow him to delete the entire thing along with the entirety of its source code, wiping it from existence. Although Wade learns of this possibility, we do not learn whether he has decided to act upon it or not. The existence of the button implies that the world might be better off without systems like the OASIS, but the absence of a clear answer leaves the merits of the OASIS up for discussion.

The 80s (motif)

The 1980s and references to elements of pop culture from that decade are essential to the plot of Ready Player One. This creates the nostalgic tone of the novel. It also offers a contrast to the bleak future: the 80s are presented as a magical time in the world and in technology, where games were abundant but did not take over reality.