Teenagers in Black Hole are portrayed somewhat similar to one another: they have same haircut, same facial features, same register in their speech, and almost all of them are attracted to sex and drug. They only become distinctly distinguishable later in the book after they have contracted the disease and undergone physical transformation that makes them look, frankly, weird. The disease is perhaps a metaphor for adolescence, and its contagion through sexual intercourse is just Burns’ way to portray sex and puberty as the gate into teenage world. Their bodily transformation, which manifests itself differently to different people, also seems to be a metaphor for formation of identity as the first stage into adulthood. After all, this disease is not lethal in any way. It just allows wild and permanent body growth that these teenagers will have to bear for the rest of their lives.
However, the above inference poses a question on the nature of the contagion: if the disease is indeed adolescence, then why does it affect only certain teenagers? Isn’t everyone supposed to go through adolescence anyway? The second question carries a subtle supposition that everyone goes through the same experience through their teenage years. Yet perhaps this very supposition is what the book wants to challenge: some teenagers can be exempted from the dilemma and the desire to be different that is so unique to adolescence. Sure, they encounter puberty, as they should, but they seem to be impervious to teenage impulsiveness. However, are they really sterile from any contagion that adolescence brings? Not necessarily. The healthy teenagers in the book clearly embody human ignorance, for they always reduce people who have the bug into an object of ridicule. The way these healthy teenagers are portrayed in groups also shows that they seem to share a common habit of always banishing people who do not fit in or meet their social standards. Yes, perhaps these teenagers can avoid the bug, but they are not totally immune to the contagion of ignorance, which seems to be infused into their mind once they step into adolescence (for kids are heavily characterized by their caring and loving innocence)