Guided Notes for “User Friendly”
By T. Ernesto Bethancourt


Summary
This story explores the relationship between a lonely boy and his computer. Kevin, the narrator, a 14-year-old computer whiz, starts to see surprising messages on the screen of his new computer (named “Louis”), which has been designed by his father to include the latest components. That afternoon, Kevin’s feeling are hurt by Ginny Linke, a girl he has a crush on; he confides in the computer, which sympathetically promises to “take care of Ginny.” They computer sets into motion a number of actions affecting Ginny’s family. Kevin decides to disconnect Louis in order to end the mischief-making. But his father tells him that he has reprogrammed the computer to be more conventional. He hands Kevin a surprising message the computer printed out as its programs were being erased, and Kevin at last understands the reason for the computer’s odd behavior.

Comprehension Points
  1. 1. Kevin is worried about his reputation as a nerd, Chuck’s threats to beat him up and the fact that Louis is operating independently.
  2. 2. Louis’s personality can best be described as loving but overly protective.
  3. 3. The printout that Kevin’s father shows him at the end of the story probably expresses Louis’s affection for Kevin.
  4. 4. After Kevin’s father returns home and works on the computer, he is puzzled by Louis’s final message.
  5. 5. Louis’s acts of revenge affect Ginny and Chuck’s entire family.
  6. 6. By patching Louis’s new modem, Louis can access and learn from computers all over the world.
  7. 7. Louis’s acts of revenge are caused by the computer’s misinterpretation of Kevin’s problems.
  8. 8. Kevin can be described as shy, intelligent and sensitive.
  9. 9. The computer’s character is revealed by its messages and actions.

Essay Question
How are Louis’s and Kevin’s characters similar? How are they different? Write a paragraph in which you compare and contrast their personalities. Support your ideas with at least two details from the story.