Asimov's Green Patches

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A crucial portion of Asimov's analysis of human vulnerability is the supposed chaos of normal life. In Asimov's eyes, unity and cooperation function much better than the effort of any given individual towards a specific goal. In Green Patches a group of astronauts lands on Saybrook's planet. The planet is fascinating in that all of the organisms work in conjunction in order to maintain homeostasis. There exists no competition for food, for space, or for sex. In a sense, "all life on Saybrook's planet is a single organism"(371). Strangely enough the main sensory tissue/organ of all organisms on Saybrook's planet is not eyes, but rather "furry green patches"(364). More importantly however the green patches act as "super-sensory organs" (364) which are able to sense not only presence but thought as well. Lastly all organisms on Saybrook's planet have the ability of transmitting their own characteristic green patches onto other organisms. Within this ability lies Asimov's true purpose for the story. Captain Weiss, the narrator of the story clearly states, "compared to life on Saybrook's planet, Earth's growth is one big cancer"(374) in such "every species, every individual [does] its best to thrive at the expense of every other species and individual" (381). Asimov explains that the chaos of human society leads not to unified harmony but rather, "a fighting dependence, a dog-eat-dog dependence" (371). Asimov furthers his obvious "desire for an impetus for change by giving the creatures on Saybrook's planet an ever-present and omnipotent quality" (Marshall Cuthers- Isaac Asimov: Origins and Growth). In the story, a creature from Saybrook's planet has snuck in to the ship. The crew tries very careful to prevent such an occurrence but through disguise the creature becomes able to hide until the landing on Earth. The goal of the creature is also quite clear. It wishes to provide "completeness for the keen-thinkers" and that "they would be saved despite themselves"(387). The astronauts on-board understand that if exposed to Earth, the creature will be able to transmit its traits onto all organisms and alter the reproductive cycle so that all subsequent generations will have the same traits and Earth will become equivalent to the unified Saybrook's planet. Captain Weiss understands this and is stuck in a moral dilemma. If released, Earth will "become void of so many flaws"(392) and "there would be no more overpopulation, no more disease and no more crime and violence" (392).

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