House of Stairs Setting

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The idea for the novel's setting and title comes from M. C. Escher's print, "House of Stairs," which shows small, segmented, wormlike creatures crawling up and down endless stairways. Sleator takes this image and turns it into a surrealistic nightmare place where five sixteen-year-old orphans find themselves trapped, unaware that the house is actually a testing laboratory and that they are the subjects of an experiment in behavior modification.

In their wanderings the five discover a machine that will feed them, but only if they perform certain gestures and acts.

They make many efforts to please the machine, and they find that the machine will reward them with food if they dance.

But then the machine stops providing them with food, and they seek other methods of pleasing it. Gradually, by trial and error, they discover that acts of cruelty to one another get them food.

Peter and...

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This section contains 207 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy the House of Stairs Short Guide
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House of Stairs from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.