Breaking the Binary in Spiderhead

Of the many binaries in Escape from Spiderhead, the one that has the most impact on Jeff’s self-sacrifice at the end of the story is the experimenter/prisoner binary. This binary is already complicated since usually it is implied that the prisoners are bad people and scientists/law enforcement is good, but the roles of this other binary are already switched. Because of this, as a “good person”, Jeff does not want to flip the binary and become the one in power. For him to take over the role of dominator would make him a killer within the context of the present in Spiderhead, which he is terrified of doing. Therefore instead of feeding into the power structure, he breaks out of it completely through noble sacrifice. In his thought process of trying to figure out a way to “leave” Spiderhead, he comes to his conclusion: “How could I make it so I wouldn’t be here? I could leave. How could I leave?…. Some Darkenfloxx. Jesus. That was one way to leave” (78). Though his apprehension about death is evident, he decides on this because it is the only way he can think of to break free of the binary entirely.

2 thoughts on “Breaking the Binary in Spiderhead

  1. Evelyn R

    Your connection to the power structure is clear and precise, and I agree that he did what he had to too break out. But another truth that can be taken from this power structure is the inherit connotation of good and evil. Yet as we get to know each ‘prisoner’ more in depth these good kids although have done bad things are innocent. As Jeff doesn’t want to give anyone the darkenfloxx, since humans don’t want to harm other human being that innocent. Even though these kids made some bad decisions it can down to they are human and make mistakes.


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