TickTockMan Essay

This essay has a total of 1680 words and 7 pages.


I think the ant world described in “Departmental,” by Robert Frost is a fitting metaphor
for the society in the story, “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman,” by Harlan
Ellison. The ant society in “Departmental” is based on keeping up with the pace and
getting all of their duties done. An ant comes across another ant that has passes away
and thinks to himself that if he runs across someone that works for the higher master
he’ll tell him about it. Insinuating that if he doesn’t run into anyone he is not going
out of his way to let anyone know about. The ants are described as “being a curious race,
[but are not] impressed” or bothered by their dead. (715)

The ant society is described or portrayed as one that is very “departmental.” If you are
a mere worker that is what you do. It is not your job to do the work of those above you.
If there is something that needs to be done, but is beyond your level you are to keep on
with your own duties and not get of track by taking care of the matters of those above you
or below you. In addition to the characteristics of the societies in both stories being
similar they are both science fiction stories. “Departmental” is based on a society of
ants and “Repent, Harlequin!” is about a society that takes place in the future.

“’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” illustrates a futuristic society governed by
time. In 2389, when the story takes place, man has become so obsessed with punctuality,
that if one does not posses this quality, he can be punished by death. Those who become
heroes and strive to save the world from destruction by the clock become enemies because
they are non-conformists.

This is the case for Everett C. Marm, or better known as the Harlequin, who tries in vain
to transform the unacceptability of the regulations. There are many ways in which people
respond to society, some follow without question and others do what they feel is right,
despite the consequences. The reader sees that many in society have transformed into
followers of the status quo.

Ellison used imagery to display the Harlequin’s rebellion as well as the societies actions
and thoughts. In illustrating the robot-like lives of his society, Ellison wrote, “He
could hear the metronomic, left-right-left of the 2:47 shift, entering the Timkin

plant in their sneakers… he heard the right-left-right of the 5:00 AM formation, going
home.” (396) This quote shows the punctuality of the people, as well as the organization
of the strict society they live. The shift was not 2:45, but rather exactly 2:47, not
sooner or later. In addition, the workers that were arriving took steps “left-right-left”
whereas the ones going home walked “right-left-right.” This allegorizes exactly how
over-organized society was. There was so much control over the people that they no longer
did what they wanted to, or what they felt was right. They automatically did what law said
to, forgetting their own feelings and opinions on whether or not the laws were morally

When Marshall Delahauty had received his “turn-off message,” he tried to escape. As he ran
away, “his heart stopped, and the blood dried up on its way to his brain, and he was dead
that’s all.” (401) This shows the reader the extreme control of the Ticktockman. He had
the power to end the lives of people as he pleased. Not only that, we are shown the
insignificance of these people in society, which is seen when the author wrote, “and he
was dead that’s all.” (401) His death is portrayed to be insignificant. Society was so
brainwashed that they were dehumanized as well. They no longer cared or felt anything for
another human being. They death of a relative was no longer important.

When Harlequin spilled jellybeans all over the city, the people had a small glimpse of
what the world and their lives could be. “Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples
and yellows and greens…round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside…bouncing
Continues for 4 more pages >>