Eggers paints a detailed picture of the Circle's campus from the outset of the novel, immersing the reader in the world alongside Mae. With everything from a doggie daycare to a cafeteria made completely of glass, the company seemingly proffers all the benefits of modernity, like the technology produced therein. However, the fact that Mae is constantly being toured around and asked to rate and comment the places she visits begins to reveal the more problematic aspects of the Circle.
Sex is described in equal parts graphically and unforgivingly by Eggers, including both the extreme pleasure of Mae's experiences with Kalden and the quick disappointment of her times with Francis. Eggers uses these situations to bring out themes in the novel such as the importance of names (through Kalden repeating her name during sex), Mae's increasing love of power (through her ability to control Francis's arousal), and the Circle's overuse of measurement (through Francis's "fantasy" of Mae rating him).
Eggers shows rather than tells regarding the Circle's obsession with data, providing the reader quite often with the specifics of Mae's PartiRank, health statistics, viewership, customer ratings, and more. The reader is able to experience the Circle the way Mae does - through the constant publication of data on her every move allowing for easy comparison of her progress through the company.
Mae's kayaking trips are described in great detail, and provide a respite from the data and tense interactions of Mae's time on the Circle's campus. Especially of note is Mae's final kayaking trip to Blue Island, where she kayaks far out, sees harbor seals, climbs to the island's peak, and finds a tiny nest that she knows not to look into, realizing the vastness and unattainability of nature around her.
The Circle Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Circle is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.