Walden Two | Study Guide

B. F. Skinner

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Walden Two | Chapter 34 | Summary

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Summary

Burris and Frazier descend the hillside and hear the sheep bleating. The commotion is caused by a sheep that has escaped the portable fold, indicating the unelectrified rope boundary is indeed not sufficient to contain the herd. Castle witnesses this and pokes humorous criticism at Frazier that his experience with conditioning the behavior of the sheep evidently failed.

Analysis

Frazier seems little concerned with the sheep's escape and more focused on the process of behavior modification. This is another instance in which Frazier appears lost in his own head. Castle's comment evidently irks Frazier, who walks away quickly after hearing it. This surprises Castle, who thinks Frazier could handle a little self-deprecating humor. This chapter, coming right after Frazier's tirade about his own godlike importance, is an example of situational irony. It undercuts Frazier's importance but also indicates flaws in the scientific method to control behavior. This leaves open the possibility some behavior may remain modified for a time but may eventually revert to its original state.

The metaphorical impact of the beginning of this chapter to the story structure is profound. It is the falling action, our descent to some expected resolution.

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