Chapter summaries

Table of contents

Book I

Pages 1-30

The Circle by Dave Eggers opens with Mae Holland arriving at the offices of The Circle, where she has got a new job. Mae got the interview through Annie, her best friend and roommate in college. Annie is one of the 40 most important people in the company. She gives Mae a tour of The Circle campus, which has a nightclub, two theatres, a gym, and even rooms where Circlers, as the company employees are called, can stay the night. Annie also takes Mae to see Eamon Bailey’s luxurious office. Bailey is one of the “three wise men” who run the company, alongside Tom Stenton and Ty Gospodinov. 

Ty was the inventor of The Circle’s basic software system, TruYou, which brought together an internet user’s social media profile, payment system, email, username, and passwords into a single tool. A TruYou account has to be connected to a real name and bank account, removing anonymity from the internet. The Circle is now the biggest internet company in the world, completely taking over the other major companies. Today, Ty is a mysterious figure, rarely seen. 

Mae is given another tour to show her that the campus has everything she could possibly need; she would never need to leave. Mae loves it. 

Pages 31 - 78

It is the end of Mae’s first day and she and Annie are at a party on campus. Mae meets Francis, who seems awkward, but Mae likes him. 

The next morning, Mae joins the Customer Experience department. Mae signs various contracts and hands over her fingerprints and birth certificate. Mae’s manager Jared explains how Mae should answer customer queries and how she should always push to get perfect feedback. Mae does well on her first day, maintaining a high feedback score. 

At lunch one day, Annie tells Mae about Francis, who works on child safety and an anti-abduction program. He is invested in the project because he grew up in foster care and his sisters were abducted and murdered when he was young. 

Later, they go to hear Eamon Bailey speak. He announces a new technology called SeeChange: tiny, inexpensive, high-resolution cameras that can be placed anywhere in the world. Bailey argues that the cameras will improve safety and accountability in politically tense places. 

At the weekend, Mae is visited by her parents, who are very proud of her new job. Her father struggles with multiple sclerosis and gets tired easily. Her parents are in a constant fight with the health insurance company to get him the care he needs. 

Pages 79 – 83

After her parents leave, Mae decides to go kayaking. She paddles across the bay and then finds herself crying. Afterwards she sits and enjoys the feeling of being on the water. 

Pages 84 - 145

On Monday, Francis tells Mae about his project, ChildTrack, which focuses on designing a way to insert microchips into children’s bones, making them fully trackable. 

Mae meets a mysterious man called Kalden in the corridor, who asks to watch her working. Mae is then approached by Gina, who wants to set up Mae’s company social account. Gina emphasizes that being engaged through the company’s social media is a fundamental part of working at The Circle. She also shows Mae her PartiRank, which is a ranking of her social participation in the company. 

The next day, Mae’s manager Dan calls Mae into his office, where a man called Alistair is offended that she didn’t respond to his brunch invitation. Mae didn’t notice this invitation, but she apologizes anyway. 

That evening, Francis and Mae go out for dinner and kiss. At a company talk on Friday, Francis volunteers to go up on stage to try out a new dating app. He tells everyone that he wants to date Mae, and the app reveals huge amounts of personal information about Mae based on what she has posted online. Mae is embarrassed, but Francis cannot understand why she is upset. 

Later, she gets a call from her mom asking her to come home as her dad has had a seizure. When Mae arrives, she finds her ex-boyfriend Mercer there. Mercer believes that the “social” tools produced by The Circle are addictive and dangerous. Mae disagrees. The next day, Mae drives back, stopping off to rent a kayak. She meets a couple living on a ...

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