The story contains different symbols that point to the state of the society that the Swintons live in. The windowless building (l. 221) that the Swintons live in, the holograms they use to obtain the illusion of a perfect home (l. 225), and the tapeworm to avoid obesity (ll. 60-61) are all symbols of the rich people’s lack of concern for the actual state of the world, which is overpopulated, and in which three quarters of the population are suffering from starvation (l. 56). They are deliberately closing their eyes to reality.
The wealthy people’s obsession with keeping thin and the plastic face masks (l. 34) they wear are symbols of conformity and fakeness: In this society, imperfection is discouraged. The creation of synthetic beings to keep people company and ease their loneliness and isolation becomes a symbol for people’s inability to connect with each other in this society.
Teddy is an example of simpler, less advanced technology and serves as a sort of symbol of the limitations of technology. This is shown through his artificial and simplistic responses, and through comparison to David, who shows complex thinking and emotion (ll. 91-93). Monica and David confide in Teddy, but neither of them is fully satisfied by Teddy’s answers, which shows their need for connection and affection.
For Monica and Henry, David symbolizes the real child they wish to conceive. However, they cannot see him as a real human boy, and his symbolic meaning seems to be lost when they learn they are allowed to have a biological child. This is shown at the end, when they speak about David as a simple machine which needs repairs, which could also suggest that they might dispose of him once the baby is born (ll. 267-270).