Ray Bradbury has a point to make in his short story “The Veldt.” It is a rather simple and obvious point—Bradbury does not like machines. But the more interesting part of this story is not his dislike of a mechanical world but rather it is Bradbury’s explanation of why he does not look upon a world run by machines as some kind of utopia in which human beings are free to pursue things other than the mundane chores of every day living. Quite contrary to the notion of a utopia, in Bradbury’s view, machines turn the world upside down, ruining human relationships and destroying the minds of children. Instead of leaving time for people to ponder the higher thoughts of spirituality and philosophy, a world run by machines leaves people open to boredom and thoughts riddled with fear, anger, and vengeance. And it is these results that make Bradbury very unhappy.
Bradbury’s husband and wife protagonists, George and Lydia Hadley, live in what Bradbury calls a Happylife Home, a place any person in their right mind would drool over, or at least that is what the Hadleys thought when they plunked down the cash to convert their normal habitat into one they thought would solve all their problems. The house was energy efficient, turning lights off and on when people entered or left a room. The house was soothing, rocking them and their children to sleep at night. The house was nurturing, fixing their meals, dressing them, and keeping their environment as clean as if they had a twenty-four-hour maid. Who could ask for more from a house?
Well, as some people believe, there is no such thing as utopia. And this concept partially forms the foundation of Bradbury’s story. In the least, Bradbury contends that an existence heavily dependent on machines will cause as much strife as it eases. It might be fun to imagine fantastic realities but attempting to put them into play in a material world causes unforeseen hardships or maybe even fatal catastrophes. Something always seems to go wrong.
In the case of Bradbury’s creation, a lot of things go wrong, and the Hadleys’ world is turned on its head. Something is wrong, they suspect, but they do not quite know what it is. What they do know is the heart of this unnamed flaw is located somewhere in the nursery.
The Hadleys are well intended parents who do not let money stand in the way of their children’s happiness. They have installed something that Bradbury has imagined well before its time, a personal virtual reality room, which in turn would provide them with well-balanced, happy little minds. But the Hadley children’s minds, as it turns out, are only happy at their parents’ expense, and the debt involves a lot more than their parents’ money. It takes a while for the Hadleys to realize that something is amiss in the nursery. When George steps into the room one day he suddenly is overwhelmed by the heat. And the lions! They seem so real. Is it possible that the virtual reality machine has converted itself, has moved up a notch closer to being less virtual and more real? And what has happened to George, once ruler and lord of his household? He seems incapable of doing anything to change the course of the foreshadowed disaster that looms in the nursery. Even though he tries to avert a catastrophe and recapture the power that once was his, his attempts come up short. He locks the room and threatens to shut the machine off, but the children overthrow his rule. George is a king dethroned in his own castle.
The children, the narrator informs the reader, have taken over the parental role, whether or not George and Lydia want to face this. They throw tantrums when George locks them out of the nursery. And George, the misguided parent that he is, wants his children to be happy. After all, this is the reason he bought the Happylife Home in the first place. So the tantrums work. George does not want to see his children cry. Tantrums make no one happy. George backs down yet another degree as the children mastermind a plot to ensure total authority over their parents.
Next, in steps fear. Lydia is afraid of the nursery. Those virtual reality lions look like they are ready to pounce on George and Lydia. But then Lydia thinks this thought out again. Maybe she is just growing paranoid. After all, she has so much time to think now that she has less to do around the house. As a matter of fact, it is not that she has...
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Technology and its Bad Effect on Families
Imagine having so much technology that your kids start to think of it as their mother and father. The story “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury uses many literary elements to show the audience that too much technology can destroy a family. In the story, two kids and their parents live in a Happylife Home that does their everyday tasks for them. The children’s parents, George and Lydia, are going to learn that giving their children too much technology is going to lead to bad events in the future. Through the use of conflict, setting, and characterization Bradbury conveys that too much technology can destroy a family.
By describing the conflicts between the Hadley’s, Bradbury conveys that too much technology can destroy a family. In the story, Peter gets into an argument with his dad who wants to turn off the nursery. It is a good example of the conflict between them two. He says to his father, “I wish you were dead” (Bradbury 7). This shows that Peter has so much technology in his life and now that his dad threatens to turn it off, he wants his dad gone. In addition to this piece of evidence, Bradbury explains the psychologist checking in with the nursery and what he finds out about it. “You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your child’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives then their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there’s hatred here” (Bradbury 6). This shows how Wendy and Peter have so much technology in their lives, that it is replacing their parents and creating a conflict between them. The kids don’t want their parents around anymore since they have this technology. Through the descriptions of the conflicts between the Hadley family, readers see how so much technology impacts them throughout the story.
Through describing the setting of the story, Bradbury conveys that too much technology can destroy a family. In the story, the setting is mostly the Happylife home that the Hadley’s live in and is described by Peter complaining that he may have to do tasks himself. “That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” (Bradbury 5). This shows how the kids are so used to having technology do everything for them that when their parents threaten to turn it off, they are forced to think about what they might have to do and they don’t want it to happen. Furthermore, Bradbury explains the setting of the nursery as being the African Veldt. “He stepped into Africa. How many times in the last year…with murder in the heat” (Bradbury 3). This shows how this technology is expressing the children’s thoughts onto the walls of the nursery which happens to be the African Veldt with hungry lions. Also, the use of the word “murder” in the quote is a sign of what is going to happen to the parents later in the story. By setting the scene of the story with descriptions of the setting, readers can see how Bradbury expresses how too much technology can destroy a family.
Lastly, Bradbury demonstrates that too much technology can destroy a family by describing the character’s personalities. In the story, George shows that he can be serious when needed while in an argument with Peter about turning off the house. “I won’t have any threats from my son” (Bradbury 7). This shows that Peter is so spoiled that when his dad wants to take technology away from Peter, he threatens his dad which is going to lead to more family struggles later on. Additionally, Bradbury explains the psychologist’s visit to check the nursery and figure out what’s wrong. “How come you didn’t sense this before?” (Bradbury). This shows that since the last time the psychologist checked the nursery, the children have gotten more destructive minds and thoughts that create the African Veldt all because of how their parents have been treating them. The psychologist used the technology to figure out how the children have bad thoughts toward their parents, which is going to result in the downfall of their family. Through the descriptions of these characters’ personalities, readers see the negative impact technology has on this family.
Ray Bradbury demonstrates to the reader of “The Veldt” through the use of conflict, setting and characterization that too much technology they had in the nursery and the whole house. In the end, the kids end up killing their parents in a surprise ending. Bradbury makes a great point in writing about the future to not allow too much technology into this world because it could take over and lead to bad events.