Course Hero. "Ready Player One Study Guide." Course Hero. 14 June 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ready-Player-One/>.
Course Hero. (2017, June 14). Ready Player One Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ready-Player-One/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Ready Player One Study Guide." June 14, 2017. Accessed April 19, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ready-Player-One/.
Course Hero, "Ready Player One Study Guide," June 14, 2017, accessed April 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ready-Player-One/.
Wade Watts, the novel's protagonist, is a resourceful young gunter living in an overcrowded trailer in the stacks outside Oklahoma City. Real estate near large cities has become so expensive that people now live in mobile homes stacked on top of one another. His laptop, which contains "old books, movies, TV show episodes, song files, and nearly every videogame made in the twentieth century" is his escape from his difficult, impoverished life. His father died when he was an infant, and his mother raised him until her own death from a drug overdose when Wade was 11. Since then, he has been living with his Aunt Alice, who took him in because it entitles her to extra food vouchers. Since his childhood, the OASIS has been a bright spot in his otherwise bleak existence. Inside the OASIS, Wade plays an avatar named Parzival. He derives his sense of purpose entirely from his quest for Halliday's Easter egg. To this end, he obsessively studies 1980s pop culture.
Aunt Alice and her boyfriend, Rick, confiscate Wade's laptop so they can sell it to pay the rent. Wade sneaks out the window of the trailer and climbs down the stacks, headed for his hideout. Along the way, he is greeted by his one real-life friend, Mrs. Gilmore, a kindly elderly lady. Wade's hideout, an abandoned van hidden under a pile of wrecked cars, is where he spends most of his time. He reaches his hideout, where he has a spare laptop, dons his haptic gloves and visor, and logs in to the OASIS. There, he attends high school virtually.
Wade's impoverished existence is typical for the times in which he lives, and Wade's home in the stacks and his abandoned van hideout are illustrative of the new America. Scarcity has become the norm because of the worldwide energy crisis. Americans have fled to major cities, desperately searching for a way to make a living. Gas is prohibitively expensive, and people have abandoned their vehicles. Desperate conditions have led to the breakdown of families.
Although he has wrestled with despair, the challenges in Wade's life have made him resourceful, self-reliant, and brave. Unlike Aunt Alice, Wade hasn't become nihilistic, cruel, or resentful. Instead, he has become a problem-solver. Wade's sole ally is a neighbor woman who feeds him and answers his questions about the 1980s, and his study of 1980s pop culture is self-motivated, dedicated, and thorough. His choice to be a gunter gives his life meaning. Wade is mature because his difficult early life has strengthened his character.