The Veldt a Short Story by Ray Bradbury
The story of “The Veldt”, is a delving into the issue of how modern technology can destroy the nuclear family. The editor of the Encounters book, John A. Rothermich comments that “This story is almost devoid of characterization.”, I agree with this statement and think it is key to the plot of the story.
The story begins with the mother of the family, who has quite a generic name. We are given no information of the characters background and how they came to the point in time they are now. The lines “Happylife Home” and the familiar room settings like the parent’s bedroom and the nursery give you a sense that this is a typical suburban home of the time.
The mother seems alarmed or confused about something, “the nursery is…different now than it was”, this at first might lead you to believethe mother has true individual characteristics. However, when you read on, you see the stereotyped reactions to every situation that comes about, the parents then say “nothing’s too good for our children”.
Later in the story the parents discuss the problems of the incredible house and nursery, “The house is wife, mother, and nursemaid, Can I compete with it?”, and the father has a generic answer “But I thought that’s why we bought this house”. The parents in the story look upon their children’s needs as services instead of ways of expressing any love or care.
In the story we never learn anything about the children except for their obsession with the nursery, “I don’t want to do anything but look and listen and smell; what else is there to do?”. When the parents tell the children the idea of shutting down the computerized house “for a vacation”, the children react shocked and stay with their one, single characteristic given, they act shocked “Who will fry my eggs for me, or darn my socks?”. You see then the children’s primary relationship is to the house and not the parents, the children exclaim “I wish you were dead!”. And sure enough, by the end of the story the children act on their on characteristic.
This short story was published in the early 1950’s, Using a major issue of the time. Ray Bradbury was trying to make a specific point about the dangers of the new directions of our society, Television was becoming a baby sitter to children in many homes. Busy parents were replacing their own affection and time for their children, with the goggle box. The story concentrates on how this relationship can eventually destroy the family, even in a future society. In order to do this, Mr. Bradbury concentrates on his point and reduces the characters into universal “generic people”.