Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 4 Chapter 17 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 4, Chapter 17 : The Straylight Run | Summary



Case updates Dixie on Armitage's death and then joins Molly via simstim. After a while, he jacks back in to check in with Dixie. When he does, Wintermute joins them in the persona of the Finn. Case asks Wintermute several questions: Why did the Ashpool man kill himself? What will happen if the run is a success? Will Wintermute still exist, and who will guide Molly out and save Case from the toxins in his system? Wintermute says becoming part of a larger whole is like a biological instinct, but he will still be there as part of this new being. Dixie tells Case, "I wanna be erased."

Case flips back to riding along with Molly. She is still following the drone when she sees a holographic vision projected by Riviera. She passes through it and then passes many more holograms as she reaches the entrance to 3Jane's area.


This chapter develops key aspects of the theme of identity. When Case asks why the old member of the Ashpool clan killed himself, Wintermute (in the persona of the Finn) shrugs and dismisses the question, saying, "Why's anybody kill himself?" He then says he could explain it but it would take 12 hours. This means that Wintermute's insight into human identity and motivation surpasses that of the humans with whom he interacts.

At the same time, Wintermute shows both an amazing degree of self-awareness and knowledge of his own limitations. Many humans like to believe they choose their paths in life. Wintermute, though, knows he is acting out some drive he didn't choose; he uses the analogy of a salmon driven to mate. Wintermute doesn't know why he wants to unite with the other being and form a larger version of himself, but he feels this drive intensely. Case is correct to be concerned at this point. Wintermute has just demonstrated he is at once far more powerful than any human but at the mercy of unknown and unknowable drives.

Dixie's request in this chapter also advances the theme of identity and relates to the idea of the Neuromancer. Dixie wants Case to erase him at the end of this adventure. That would end Dixie. This means there is something greater or more important than existence: identity. Dixie feels this way despite his apparent pride in his skills and despite not having a body to generate emotional responses to things.

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