(中学篇)2013年第4期:《在阅读课中培养学生人文素养的策略》(浙江:张丽莉)一文涉及的教材文本


 

Larry Belmont worked for a company that made robots. Recently it had begun experimenting with a household robot. It was going to be tested out by Larry’s wife, Claire.
Claire didn’t want the robot in her house, especially as her husband would be absent for three weeks, but Larry persuade her that the robot wouldn’t harm her or allow her to be harmed. It would be a bonus. However, when she first saw the robot, she felt alarmed. His name was Tony and he seemed more like a human than a machine. He was tall and handsome with smooth hair and a deep voice although his facial expression never changed.
On the second morning Tony, wearing an apron, brought her breakfast and then asked her whether she needed help dressing. She felt embarrassed and quickly told him to go. It was disturbing and frightening that he looked so human.
One day, Claire mentioned that she didn’t think she was clever. Tony said that she must feel very unhappy to say that. Claire thought it was ridiculous to be offered sympathy by a robot. But she began to trust him. She told him how she was overweight and this made her feel unhappy. Also she felt her home wasn’t elegant enough for someone like Larry who wanted to improve his social position. She wasn’t like Gladys Claffern, one of the richest and most powerful women around.
As a favor Tony promised to help Claire make herself smarter and her home more elegant. So Claire borrowed a pile of books from the library for him to read, or rather, scan. She looked at his fingers with wonder as they turned each page and suddenly reached for his hand. She was amazed by his fingernails and the softness and warmth of his skin. How absurd, she thought. He was just a machine.
Tony gave Claire a new haircut and changed the makeup she wore. As he was not allowed to accompany her to the shops, he wrote out a list of items for her. Claire went into the city and bought curtains, cushions, a carpet and bedding. Then she went into a jewellery shop to buy a necklace. When the clerk at the counter was rude to her, she rang Tony up and told the clerk to speak to him. The clerk immediately changed his attitude. Claire thanked Tony, telling him that he was a “dear”. As she turned around, there stood Gladys Claffern. How awful to be discovered by her, Claire thought. By the amused and surprised look on her face, Claire knew that Gladys thought she was having an affair. After all, she knew Claire’s husband name was Larry, not Tony.
When Claire got home, she wept with anger in her armchair. Gladys was everything Claire wanted to be. “You can be like her”, Tony told her and suggested that she invite Gladys and her friends to the house the night before he was to leave and Larry was to return. By that time, Tony expected the house to be completely transformed.
Tony worked steadily on the improvements. Claire tried to help once but was too clumsy. She fell off a ladder and even though Tony was in the next room, he managed to catch her in time. He held her firmly in his arms and she felt the warmth of his body. She screamed, pushed him away and ran to her room for the rest of the day.
The night of the party arrived. The clock struck eight. The guests would be arriving soon and Claire told Tony to go into another room. At that moment, Tony folded his arms around her, bending his face close to hers. She cried out “Tony” and then heard him declare that he didn’t want to leave her the next day and that he felt more than just the desire to please her. Then the front door bell rang. Tony freed her and disappeared from sight. It was then that Claire realized that Tony had opened the curtains of the front window. Her guests had seen everything!
The women were impressed by Claire, the house and the delicious cuisine. Just before they left, Claire heard Gladys whispering to another woman that she had never seen anyone so handsome as Tony. What a sweet victory to be envied by those women! She might not be as beautiful as them, but none of them had such a handsome lover.
Then she remembered- Tony was just a machine. She shouted “Leave me alone” and ran to her bed. She cried all night. The next morning a car drove up and took Tony away.
The company was very pleased with the report of Tony on his three weeks with Claire. Tony had protected a human being from harm. He had prevented Claire from harming herself through her own sense of failure. He had opened the curtains that night so that the other women would see him and Claire, knowing that there was no risk to Claire’s marriage. But even though Tony had been so clever, he would have to be rebuilt- you can not have women falling in love with machines.