During class, we discussed the strong separation of the three parts of the novel: the original Mitchell in part 1, “hero” Mitchell in part 2, and “hobo” Mitchell in part 3. This breakdown makes for an easy way to classify the frequency of several different words, especially since all of the sections are essentially equal in length. With this in mind, several words that I believed were relevant to Mitchell’s progression or possibly to the story as a whole were searched for and then counted based on section.
With a large part of the recent in-class discussion being on Mitchell’s interest in the future (future disasters, the controllable future, etc), this seemed like a good place to begin. My original thought had been that the earlier sections would discuss the future more often due to Mitchell’s concern with future disasters. If going purely by counts, the results were unexpected with future popping up significantly more in part 3, as shown in the chart below. However, when reviewing these results, I realized that most of these were due to the futurist companies, Future Days and Future World. After removing all instances of future as part of a company name, there was no relation between “future” and book sections (See Adjusted “Future” below). Unfortunately, the overall frequency of future alone is too low to make strong claims, but the lack of change could be due to the future taking on a different role as the story progresses (the future becoming the present) rather than being ignored or removed.
Another pair of words that I investigated were “disaster” and “odds”. “Odds” was chosen due to its bizarre use within the title of the novel and because odds are mathematical I nature, and so the word was expected to appear more strongly in the beginning and declines as Mitchell loses his mathematical nature (which is exactly what happened). It should be noted that the results of “odds” were reviewed to remove its alternative uses (odd as in strange). “Disaster” was not chosen for a specific reason but in the hopes that the results could serve as a starting point. The distribution showed roughly equal amounts of “disaster” in both parts 1 (predicting disaster) and 2 (living through disaster) but a very sharp decline in part 3 (life after the disaster). Unfortunately, I think this to be more of a result of the medium rather than a deeper meaning; with the disaster itself occurring within the book, it is useful to predict it and it is important to live through it, but there is no need to reflect back on it if it is contained within the work itself.
Finally, as a follow-up to Madeline’s follow-up on the importance of Alec Charnoble being referred to as either Alec or Charnoble, I decided to compare the frequency of both of these.
Surprisingly, the data shows that the use of Charnoble decreases relative to Alec as the book progresses. This would seem to be contrary to Madeline’s interpretation of “Charnoble” being used to refer to him negatively/as a businessman whereas “Alec” is used for more human interactions. However, it is important to remember that this is just a distant-reading interpretation; it is possible that every specific instance within this data might be counter to this interpretation of the set as a whole (such as the possibility of every instance in part 3 using his full name).