The Circle

The Circle Summary and Analysis of Book 2 Part 3 and Book 3 (pp. 466-497)


Book 2 Part 3 begins a week after Mercer’s death and Annie’s collapse. Mae is talking to Bailey in his office, and she thinks about the tear in her and how not knowing causes it. She decides that she could have saved Mercer if he had made his mind known. She and Bailey go together to another feeding of Stenton’s shark. There, Bailey introduces Mae, supposedly for the first time, to the third Wise Man, Ty. It becomes clear that Kalden has been Ty all along. She realizes that this means Ty has been warning her about the Completion, but her attention is called to the feeding in which the shark again devours all in its habitat effortlessly. On their way out after the gruesome presentation, Ty presses a note into Mae’s hand.

She follows the instructions on the note which lead her to fool her viewers into thinking she’s in the bathroom but proceeds down to the cavernous subway area to which he had taken her once. There, she yells at him for concealing his identity but he pleads that he had to. He tells her that she’s the third person who knows his identity and that he’s revealing himself to her because she has the influence to slow down Completion by giving a message to her viewers. He promises that there will be more Mercers if she does not since soon nobody will be able to rise up against an all-controlling Circle. Mae protests that she does want everything seen and known because it makes people significant even after they die. He ends by giving her the note to read to her viewers and promising her that they can run away together after it is done.

Book 3 finds Mae sitting next to Annie who is still comatose. Instead of reading Ty’s note to her viewers, she has told them of his attempt to derail the Completion of the Circle. Stenton and Bailey have allowed Ty to stay on campus as an advisor, but nothing more. Mae has not seen her parents in months, and when Francis knocks on the glass she waves at him in a gesture that means she will see him later at a party for 10 million people now transparent worldwide. As she sits in the clinic, she thinks about how Completion promises unity and the end of all uncertainty. However, she ends on a final thought that not knowing Annie’s thoughts and feelings while in her coma is a selfish annoyance - that "the world deserve[s] nothing less and would not wait" (497).


Mae seems remarkably stable after the loss or near-loss of two of her closest relations from before her life at the Circle began. Perhaps out of necessity of hiding her emotions from her viewers constantly, and effecting impact almost solely virtually, she has lost something of her ability to truly feel. Buffered by support from Eamon Bailey and her viewers, she continues on with the Circle as it approaches Completion.

Again, Mae and her viewers watch the transparent shark devour everything in its path. Watching it alongside the three Wise Men, we see their three different reactions to it, but none of them stop it from doing what it will. At this point, like the Circle, nobody would be able to intervene with it transparently displaying the destruction of all things around it.

When Mae discovers that Kalden has been Ty the entire time, she confronts him about his concealed identity, again bringing the importance of identity and the irony of secrecy in a place supposedly so transparent to the fore. Mae's betrayal of Ty, which brings readers to the final, 2-page-long Book of The Circle, can be considered the final step towards the Circle's Completion and Mae's importance to that occurrence. Ty believes, and it may be the case, that she has enough power to stop the Completion if she wants to, but she has found identity and satisfaction through the Circle and is not prepared to give that up, no matter the consequences.

Her final thoughts as she sits next to Annie in the clinic betray how far her Circle mentality has been ingrained. Though people have always wished they could know what their ailing friends and family members think and how they feel, Mae is now only able to see this in light of selfish entitlement to shared information, the values of Eamon Bailey that drove Annie to collapse.