Books Reviews

A Comparison of Ray Bradbury’s Two Short Stories in the Illustrated Man

By Nickolas Yoon

Bradbury frequently presents a situation in his short stories and follows it to a conclusion that seems inevitable to the reader. The beginning may be fantastic in some way, but it will always be consistent with human instinct. In some instances, he provides a plot of its final momentum. However, these shifts in the stories of The Illustrated Man do not typically alter the reader’s perspective and perception of the situation, which is a reasonably average effect in other short stories. Alternatively, perhaps they provide a surprising slight deviation from the situation’s certainty. For instance, it seems appropriate that Ettil Vrye is run over by a car full of screaming children. At that time, he was a victim of Earth’s captivity. “The veldt” and “The man” include the most significant reassessments of the situation since both stories manage the difficult sections of the people and benefit from playing and understanding the complexity of their story.

In the Veldt, Bradbury’s first one out of 19 story collection, the central theme is the misuse of technology. There is a chain of causality, the sluggishness caused by a fully computerized home has destroyed the familial bond, as the parents have stopped child-rearing. With the familial bond shattered, innovation has stepped into the void and become the new parent of the children, providing comfort and care as well as a means to eliminate the old guardians. The theme is associated with the danger of creative energy, as children have summoned the truth that preys on their parents. “Where before they had a Santa Claus now, they have a Scrooge. – – – – – – Why, you’d starve tomorrow if something went wrong in your kitchen. You wouldn’t know how to tap an egg.” (pg. 21) The comparison of Christmas icons is highly telling, as Santa presents, and Scrooge is offered the opportunity to redeem himself. The Scrooges’ parents were not stingy with money, but with time and care, they individually gave their children the attention provided by the nursery’s Santa. The order to modify his life and reconnect with the simpler things of life, away from the pampering of technology, is common in Bradbury and often as overt as in the final section of this piece.

The lions in the virtual reality playroom in the collection’s first tale, “The Veldt,” serve as metaphors for what the kids have turned into. They are adamant that the playroom remains set to show the African veldt, where lions prowl and feast on their prey. They seduce and murder their parents in the playroom like lions, demonstrating the apparent corruption of these kids. The psychologist discovers towards the conclusion of the tale that the lions in the area are currently dining on the remnants of freshly murdered prey. 

The protagonist of “The Man” is believed to be Jesus, who represents happiness and the fulfillment of human life. Consequently, all civilizations touched by this man are cheerful and complete, whereas those without him are egocentric and hopeless. The Man is a symbol of goodness in a universe filled with evil. The irony of it is that the group discovers a prosperous civilization in the aftermath of a figure known as the Man. While the captain departs to find this Man, the lieutenant remains on the planet. In contrast, the lieutenant discovers that the Man is still present on the first planet with individuals who believe in him. The guy who searches cannot find him, whereas the satisfied man finds him without searching. “Sir, when you find him – if you find him,” asked Martin, “what will you ask of him?” “Why -” The captain faltered, – – – – – “Did you ever just try, Captain?” “I don’t understand,” said Hart. “Never mind. So long, Captain.” (pg. 76) He understands what he needs throughout his life – he just doesn’t know what he should give up with a particular end goal in mind to pick it up. This is emphasized by the detail of touching the rocket – what gives him authority and what he believes will finally bring him to the Man, but rather represents his own corruption and separates him from the Man. Martin’s inquiry about simply attempting to relax to give up control and essentially confide to a higher power is completely wasted on the commander. Understanding this, Martin must choose to release the chief, who is severely vision challenged, making it difficult for him to discover its source.

“Where before they had a Santa Claus now they have a Scrooge. Children prefer Santa. You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there’s hatred here. You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun. George, you’ll have to change your life. Like too many others, you’ve built it around creature comforts. Why, you’d starve tomorrow if something went wrong in your kitchen. You wouldn’t know how to tap an egg.” (pg 21)

“Sir, when you find him – if you find him,” asked Martin, “what will you ask of him?” “Why -” The captain faltered, opening his eyes. His hands clenched and unclenched. He puzzled a moment and then broke into a strange smile. “Why, I’ll ask him for a little – peace and quiet.” He touched the rocket. “It’s been a long time, a long, long time since – since I relaxed.” “Did you ever just try, Captain?” “I don’t understand,” said Hart. “Never mind. So long, Captain.” (pg 76)

 Women (Alice) followed the me (maitre d’) for seat. She said “Oh, yes. Come on, Marc, it’ll be like having lunch on a boat on the water… man caught her by passing his arm under hers. So, I assumed that they are the married couple. He said, “We’ll be more comfortable over there.” she replied “There? In the middle of all those people? I’d much rather…” He was very determined, “Alice, please.” He clenched his hand significantly and she turned around. She asked, “What’s the matter?”  He stared at her and spoke softly, leading her to the table in the middle. “Shh…” she asked, “What is it, Marc?” he replied “I’ll tell you, darling. Let me order lunch first. Would you like the shrimp? Or the eggs in aspic?” She agreed and said, “Whatever you like, you know that.” They smiled at one another, wasting my precious overworked time, stricken with a kind of nervous dance, who was standing next to them, perspiring. “The shrimp,” the  husband said, “Then the eggs and bacon. And the cold chicken with a romaine salad. I asked, Fromage blanc? The house specialty? He said, we’ll go with the specialty. Two strong coffees. My chauffeur will be having lunch also, we’ll be leaving again at two o’clock. I asked again, “Some cider?” he was refused, no, I don’t trust it… Dry champagne.” He sighed as if he had moved his armor, and looked at the achromatic midday sea, the pearly white sky, and then at his wife, who found loveliness in her little Mercury hat, which was large and hung veil. He spoke at the weird timing, “You’re looking well, darling. And all this blue water makes your eyes look green, imagine that! And you’ve put on weight since you’ve been traveling… It’s nice up to a point, but only up to a point! “As she leaned over the table, her hard, round breast rose proudly. She asked, “Why did you keep me from taking that place next to the window?” I realized the whole situation after he said, “Because you were about to sit next to someone I know.”  she asked, “Someone I don’t know?” he replied, “My ex-wife.” She seems she couldn’t think of anything to say and opened her blue eyes wider.

Categories: Books Reviews

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