Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 2 Chapter 6 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 2, Chapter 6 : The Shopping Expedition | Summary



Now that he is turned back on, Dixie Flatline begins mentoring Case. He guides him to a section of the matrix he calls a "paradise." Once they're there, Case breaks into the data storage on Armitage. He sees a video of the military trial of Colonel Willis Corto. Case recognizes the man's eyes as those of Armitage. Records tell how Corto was part of the Screaming Fist mission. Corto was gravely injured in a helicopter accident. He needed new legs and eyes, a jaw, and cosmetic surgery. He testified in the trials and then went rogue, killing the congressional aide who was trying to manage him after the trials. There were records of him engaged in violent crimes at different sites around the world. Then, Corto said in an interview, everything went gray. He was hospitalized for schizophrenia. He was selected for a program in which patients were given computers, and he was healed. The phone rings, interrupting Case's study. Armitage tells him they are going to Istanbul that night.


Many militaries give their missions code names, and "Screaming Fist" works well as that sort of tag. It is violent but mysterious. It also does something else: it signals Gibson's ties to the punk movement. In the 1970s the Toronto punk group The Viletones recorded a song titled "Screaming Fist," and Gibson is referring to it here. The song refers to killers carrying "dart guns," much like the advanced weapons Molly carries.

Case's investigation into Armitage's background develops many of the novel's core themes. Gibson foreshadows contemporary concerns about how insecure data is in the digital realm by having Case access these records almost casually. Corto's reconstruction dramatizes the theme of humanity's relationship with technology. The accident literally fragmented him. Corto was missing parts of his body before he was rebuilt. His name signals his nature: in Spanish corto means "short," and in English curt means "abrupt, or using few words." Corto is both.

Wintermute's reconstruction of Corto into Armitage also develops the theme of identity. Identity is not static in Neuromancer. Nor is it completely self-contained. Instead, identity changes, and outside forces can change identities. Because a computer rebuilds Corto into Armitage, this also sends the message that technology changes human identity.

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