Outer characterization

In Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle, Mercer is Mae’s ex-boyfriend and a similar age to her. He still lives in their hometown and has a business making chandeliers from deer antlers. He often helps Mae’s parents. When Mae is angry with him, she focuses on his weight: “Mae looked at his fat face. He was thickening everywhere. He seemed to be developing jowls. Could a man of twenty-five already have jowls?” (p. 134)

Inner characterization

Mercer hates The Circle

Mercer is very different from Mae because he hates The Circle and the way it has become like a “cult taking over the world” (p. 258). He believes in the right to privacy and in the right not to participate online. He thinks that The Circle’s tools place too much emphasis on unfounded and inexpert opinions: “ ‘It’s all gossip. It’s people talking about each other behind their backs. […] Your tools have elevated gossip, hearsay and conjecture to the level of valid, mainstream communication.’ ” (p. 132)

Mercer’s character has the important role of explaining to readers what is wrong with The Circle. He does this by talking to Mae and sending her a series of letters. He claims, for example, that The Circle’s tools “actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying.” (p. 133). The truth of this is shown in the social anxieties and insecurities of every...

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