Wow there are so many great discussion points that you brought up in the podcast. I’m going to have to listen to the discussion sections again to wrap my brain around them.
My reading of this story is that it is about the purgatory of modern corporate culture and its effects on people. When Forlesen asks what they do here all he gets is jargon. In his one day of lifetime he encountered one room where physical work was being done. There were 30 machines but only 2 were in use, one by an old person doing work carefully and a young person, going fast, distracting himself and even injuring himself while doing his work. The youth is praised for his effort while all of the machines sit idle, producing nothing.
He goes to work and by lunch he doesn’t recognize his wife and she doesn’t recognize him. When he finally gets to go home he sees the next generation where both people in the marriage are going to work, but won’t see each other either. He gets home and his wife is dead and a child he doesn’t know is only interested in putting him in a box, which is a metaphor for a nursing home in my opinion. Then a meaning is put on your life once it is over.
In your discussion you refer to the National Hero narrative in terms of military or physical bravery terms. This is way that narrative is usually used but I think Wolfe meant it in a “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda sense.
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the lines “I thought it would be better to give you time to set your hook and get your jib in.“