Mae Holland


Outer characterization

Mae Holland is the main character in Dave Eggers’ The Circle. The novel follows her point of view and gives readers insights into her thoughts and feelings. She is a 24-year-old woman who grew up in a lower-middle-class family in a small Californian town. She is an only child and her father suffers from multiple sclerosis

As Mae becomes used to being watched all the time, she learns to maintain a calm outward appearance even if she is internally stressed or upset: 

With a wide smile – for she was surely visible on three or four outdoor SeeChanges – she took a breath. This was a new skill she’d acquired, the ability to look, to the outside world, utterly serene and even cheerful, while, in her skull, all was chaos. (p. 322)

Inner characterization

Mae feels grateful to The Circle 

Mae is very grateful for the opportunity to work at The Circle. She “wouldn’t have thought she had a chance to work at such a place” (p. 2) and feels very lucky to be “working for the only company that really mattered at all” (p. 3). In particular, Mae feels grateful to have got away from her old job at a utility company in her small hometown, which she found “sickening” and where she felt she was “wasting her life” (p. 11). 

Once she starts working for The Circle, Mae becomes increasingly thankful for the “free” perks offered by the company. She does not realize that the free parties, accommodation, and food come with a cost: her loyalty to The Circle and being forced to change the way she thinks and acts to match the company’s ideals. This proves that she is susceptible to being manipulated.

Her gratefulness to The Circle is cemented when she finds that she can put her parents on the company’s health insurance. This saves her parents from battling with the insurance company to get even basic treatment for her father’s multiple sclerosis. This makes her very loyal to The Circle and her job; she would not be able to leave without ruining her fa...

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