There’s a common refrain that, if Jesus re-graced the Earth with his presence today, instead of igniting the firestorm of controversy that greeted his first foray and that of other self-proclaimed prophets (Joan of Arc anyone? Joseph Smith? Etc.), present-day humanity would completely ignore him, too distracted by contemporary life’s endless cornucopia of nonstop bells-and-whistles to properly appreciate the Messiah in our midst.
!!! SPOILERS AHOY !!!
One of the novel’s primary themes is about what it means to be human, explored through the story of a human-created robot observing, experiencing, and sharing her takes on what it means to be human.
And yet, the apparent deus ex machina of the climax seems to transcend the human realm, when the sun appears to cure Josie and her presumed-incurable illness, courtesy of Klara’s sun-directed prayers.
The argument could be made — in fact, it’s probably the predominant reader interpretation — that Josie’s miraculous recovery has nothing to do with Klara nor the Sun. Like her creators, Klara confuses correlation with causation in a miasma of confirmation bias; all she knows for sure is that she prayed to the Sun to heal Josie, and then it happened, so of course she assumes it was the Sun’s supernatural doing and not merely due to natural causes that science will eventually discover.
It’s a valid theory, one that’s true to the aforementioned theme, shedding light on the relationship between the suspect cognition and firmly-held beliefs of humanity.
But what if Klara’s right? What if her unique combination of man and machine allowed her to tap into powers governing our world that science has yet to uncover? She could’ve been our technological breakthrough…if we had properly valued her, instead of discarding her into the scrapheap of history.
In the final chapter — more of an epilogue than a climax, one that strips the climax of being a deus ex machina, at least for Klara — we find her alone and abandoned in a garbage dump. Her corporeal form is not the only thing left behind to rot in desolation; so too is her ability to harness the sun’s life-saving skills, which could’ve radically improved humanity’s future…if only someone had cared enough to care for her.
We use science to further understand the world and ourselves, but how many of us truly listen to science when it upends our established worldview (…need I explicate the climate change / Covid parallels here)? Refusing to shift our paradigms might spell doom for the likes of Klara, and for the entire human race.
A 2021 movie that’s also about a potential mystic lost in the meaningless suburbs of modern malaise: Never Gonna Snow Again.