Under the Skin Summary & Study Guide

Michel Faber
This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Under the Skin.
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Under the Skin Summary & Study Guide Description

Under the Skin Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Under the Skin by Michel Faber .

NOTE: All citations in this Study Guide refer to the Kindle version of Under the Skin, published July 16, 2001.

Isserley knew what it was like to look different from the others of her species in the novel Under the Skin by Michael Faber. She considered the surgery she underwent to make her body look like that of a vodsel a small price to pay to keep her from going to work in the underground New Estates. Isserley rethought her career when she met Amlis Vess, an elite who was staunchly against killing vodsels for meat. She additionally had an experience where a hitchhiker tried to rape her, an incident that made her realize she suffered more during her job than her victims did. The novel addresses the idea that it is language that separates the humans from the animals and that injustice can come in a variety of forms. The barriers to relationships between males and females are also discussed.

Isserley’s job required her to bring back well-muscled, well-formed men for the meat processing plant at Vess Incorporated’s Ablach Farm. She preyed on hitchhikers and weeded out men who would not be missed by getting to know them as well as possible in their short time in the car together. When she decided she had an ideal specimen, she activated drug injectors in the passenger seat of her car. This drug sedated the men until she could get them to Ablach Farms, where they would be processed.

In order to do her job, Isserley had to undergo surgery to make her look less like a human being and more like a vodsel. In this novel, human begins are four-legged furred creatures while vodsels are two-legged creatures. Even though she had been promised by several male members of elite society that she would not have to go work in the New Estates, an underground world, Isserley found herself there anyway. She was given the choice to stay there or be surgically manipulated so she could look and walk like a vodsel. By choosing to live above ground and be manipulated, Isserley had to work as a lure for the vodsels. She was even given and enormous pair of breasts that the other humans knew would attract vodsels to her.

Isserley began to realize how cruel her job was when she met the elite Amlis Vess, the son of her boss. Although he was heir to Vess Incorporated Amils believed it was cruel to kill the vodsels for meat. Isserley was attracted to Amlis first because of his beauty and then because of his acceptance of her.

Even before she began to take seriously what Amlis had to say about the cruelty of the production at Ablach Farm, Isserley had an experience that had already begun to make her question if she wanted to continue her job. A hitchhiker she picked up tried to rape her and did force her to perform oral sex on him. Isserley felt violated and realized how her victims must feel as a result of this experience.

While Isserley was trying to decide what she wanted to do since she left Ablach Farm, she unwillingly picked up her final hitchhiker. He stopped her by stepping in front of her car because his girlfriend was having a baby and he needed a ride to the hospital. During the ride he talked to Isserley about the awe he felt concerning the impending birth of his baby. He also shared with her that he thought death was not the end of one’s life but that a creature might come back in another, better, form. As she drove, Isserley’s car malfunctioned and she ran into a tree.

Because she was trapped in the car and badly injured, Isserley set off a bomb that had been specially put into her car in case she ever needed to dispose of herself. She told herself that by destroying herself, she would become part of the universe and all of the things that she thought were so beautiful.

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