Whether he is writing fiction or non-fiction, John Hersey is distinguished by a pure and simple moral sense. He seems to know directly where to point the finger and how that blame will soothe the reader's distress over our corrupt society. This futuristic allegory reduces the Problem to something you can love to hate: a disembodied ""thin epicene lawyerish voice"" that dispenses authority from behind a barred opaque window. In a time when overcrowding has eliminated ""selfhood"" and established the principle that Survival is Acceptance, writer Sam Poynter, jammed into a ""waitline"" to present his petition for more sleeping space in his dormitory, is surrounded by ""touchers"" whose wishes seem as trivial to him as his seem subversive to them. Before he reaches that window, he falls for the girl in front of him, realizes that space is really intimacy, relives his childhood and comes to terms with his dead father. Even though his chess game with the mechanical voice ends in a stalemate and a reaffirmation of fragmentation, loss of identity, the death of love, etc., like all of Hersey's right-thinking individuals, Poynter is insufferably pious and out of phase with the times.