The novel Little Brother by Cary Doctorow tells the story of a teen who takes on the Department of Homeland Security and wins. Marcus Yallow starts his campaign against the DHS after he is arrested, questioned and tortured without good cause for nearly a week in connection with a terrorist attack on San Francisco. Themes such as invasion of privacy, American rights, loyalty and standing up for what one believes in are dealt with in this engrossing story. Marcus learns that he, as an American citizen, is responsible and able to stand up to the leaders and protectors of the country when they do not uphold the rights up which the country was built.In Chapter One, Fred Benson, one of the vice-principals of Cesar Chavez High School, calls senior Marcus Yallow, also known as W1n5t0n, to the office. On the way to the office, Marcus gets a message on his cell phone telling him there has been a new posting on Harajuku Fun Madness.
Benson tries to get Marcus to admit to using the web handle of W1n5t0n. Marcus claims he is not familiar with the name, then tells Benson that if he has evidence this person has been hacking the school’s security system, he should call the police. Benson tells Marcus to go back to class until the police are contacted. When Marcus says he can wait in the office until the police get there, Benson yells at Marcus to get out of his office.
Once he is back in class, Marcus contacts Darryl on his secret instant messaging program. Darryl doesn’t want to skip class because he is in danger of being expelled but Marcus convinces him.In Chapter 2, Marcus and Darryl cook Darryl’s library book in the microwave of the teachers’ lounge to deactivate the arphid in the book. On the way out of the lounge, they almost run into Charles Walker, a student who often snitches on other students.
Marcus jams the signal on Charles’ phone to distract him. Instead of going somewhere private to figure out what is wrong with his phone, Charles stands in the hall and is caught by Mr. Benson. Vanessa, also called Van, spots Marcus and Darryl at their meeting place and they are soon joined by Jose-Luis Torrez, the fourth member of their group. They head toward a section of town known as the Tenderloin.
Once in the Tenderloin, a girl takes their picture and threatens to post it to the web if the group doesn’t allow her to solve the clue first. Their confrontation is disrupted by what they believe is an earthquake. A huge black cloud rises from the area of the bay. Sirens start and announcements warn them to go to the closest shelter immediately. Marcus tells his crew to go to the BART station.