In “The Veldt”, Ray Bradbury examines the effects of technology and the resulting dissatisfaction through irony, sentence syntax, and symbolism. Due to a disruption between their family, dissatisfaction is portrayed within the Hadley family with their family bonds and overall happiness. The growing power of technology surrounds the family to seemingly make life easier yet it robs them of a more significant aspect of their lives– purpose. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley represent the dissatisfaction from their boredom and their children reflect the dangers of parental absence when they seek another parental figure. Since introducing technology into their once simple lives, Bradbury reflects the poisonous effects on the family and their collective happiness when they lack human connection. 

The Tree Where the Apples Fell From

This seed of technology was planted in the Hadleys’ lives with the purchase of their new technologically savvy “HappyLife House” in order to simplify their lives, “which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and… was good to them” (1). Ironically, the name of their home is “HappyLife House” which the family welcomes to do all the simple household duties. Little do they know, it would do just the opposite. Also, Bradbury carefully creates repetition of the word “and” which prolongs the sentence, as well as mirrors the run-on sentence with the endless features of the HappyLife Home. The number of excessive qualities in the house creates feelings of exhaustion and overwhelms the reader. In a conversation between the Hadley parents that suggests that they start to feel unease within a house that is so technologically advanced, they begin to discuss their feelings of uselessness. The Hadley’s purpose of buying the smart house was so they “wouldn’t have to do anything…” (3). However, now that they were experiencing their lives with no tasks left to do themselves, their idleness has led to dissatisfaction. Lydia feels empty without having domestic work anymore and notices that George has become so restless with boredom that he started smoking and drinking more than usual. Ray Bradbury depicts that the results of this idleness has led George to commit acts of self-harm. They even began to feel aloof with each other. Not only is their health deteriorating but also their emotional availability. While sitting at the dinner table prepared by a machine, the George and Lydia sit in an awkward conversation with choppy, simple sentence syntax that reflects the waters they wade in emotionally.

Child’s Play

Their children are the next victims of the overdose of technology into their lives. As their parents are alone in the house, they are away at, “a special plastic carnival” (4). To go along with the theme of technology and its false identity of happiness for reality and simple life, the children are away seeking their fun in a theme park of plastic. Plastic, a synthetic substance made to resemble real and organic objects, is connotated negatively and represents the world the children were brought up and currently reside in, but the children’s activities are not the extent of their new world. When the children are absent, Mrs. Hadley pays the children’s nursery a visit. In the nursery, a virtual reality room constantly plays while responding to the inhabitants’ thoughts and imagination. This room displayed scenery, “so startlingly real…dimensional, supperactionary, ” that when Mrs. Hadley finds herself in the room while an African Veldtland was on, she runs out in fright when a lion seemed to closely encounter her (2). The introduction of this new nursery for Peter and Wendy allowed them to spend a majority of their time absorbed in their technology. What once was fascinating is now frightening to Mr. and Mrs. Hadley and with their suspicions, they decide to lock the room up for the time being. However, since the children were so accustomed to being spoiled, they feel defensive and refuse the thought of losing their nursery. In fact, they had grown so attached to the room that the mention of locking it set the children off into a fit and snappy attitudes. Peter begins to snap and tells his father that he “wouldn’t want the nursery locked up… [saying] coldly, ‘Ever.’” (9). Now that the children no longer spend as much time with their parents, they grow distant and Bradbury exemplifies this by adding that, “ he never looked at his father any more, nor at his mother,” (8). Where their eyes do not meet, their hearts do not as well. The emotional disconnection from their lack of interaction is a direct result of their disjuncted lives due to technology. Furthermore, Bradbury explains that they have “… let this room [the nursery] and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father” (9). Where the children did not find proper parental guidance and structure, they turned to their nursery for refuge in search of providing them these needs. Once dissatisfied by their parents’ absence and now dissatisfied by the sudden loss of being spoiled, the children turn against their parents and “wish [they] were dead!” (11). The children do not remember their happiness achieved from something not technological and since accustomed to such conditions, find that a sudden change into a healthier life would be too harsh. 

The story ends with a picture of the children nonchalantly having a picnic while their parents are being devoured in the background as the sun is harsh on their shoulders. In the end, the dissatisfaction and addiction prevails as the children trap their own parents into the growing reality they conceived in the hyperrealistic room, and they allow their negative thoughts to literally consume their parents– except in this way, their fate lies in the African veldt lands within the jaws of lions. For a story written in the 1950’s, Ray Bradbury was incredibly ahead of his time. His social commentary is still relevant today and sadly may only intensify as technology advances. 

 

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