Neglecting Family And Irresponsibility In Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Veldt’
The Psychological View
Many psychologists will tell you that family neglect can lead to psychological problems within the children. Set in the future, two parents spoil their kids with mind-blowing technologies instead of spoiling them with their time. The lack of responsibility and family time is demonstrated in Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”’s theme that it is important to always have family time or there’ll be disastrous consequences.
In the beginning, George gives everything to his kids, spoiling them beyond belief. As George explains to Lydia, his wife, why he spoils their kids as he does, he says “‘… nothing’s too good for our children.’” George blatantly states that nothing is too good for their kids. He gives them more than they could ever want, or need for that matter. George and Lydia initially buy a house that performs the duties of the parents. “They [George and Lydia] walked down the hall of their soundproofed HappyLife Home… which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them.” The Happy Home basically takes care of everyone and replaces the parents in the simple tasks that they should be doing. Instead of spending time with their kids, George and Lydia just leave them to their own devices. George and Lydia give their kids everything and spoil them with technology, but fail to realize the consequences.
Peter and Wendy openly lie to their parents, which causes George and Lydia to acknowledge the fact that they really have no control over their kids. George and Lydia ask Peter and Wendy to explain the African veldt. Peter says, ‘“There’s no Africa in the nursery.’” Confused because George knows what he saw, he responds with “‘Oh, come now, Peter we know better.’” Peter then turns and says to Wendy “‘I don’t remember any Africa, do you?’” Wendy says, “‘No.’” George and Lydia realize that their kids lied to them. They finally start to understand that maybe they do spoil their kids too much and give them too much freedom. As George talks to Lydia he realizes they have allowed their kids to “‘… come and go when they like;’” He understands that Wendy and Peter treat them as if him and Lydia were the kids. It finally dawns on him that “‘They’re [Wendy and Peter] are spoiled and we’re [Lydia and George] are spoiled.’” George finally understands that he and Lydia have spoiled their kids too much. He now realizes that they’ve let them do whatever they want without repercussions. George starts to see the consequences of spoiling their kids with technology instead of with quality family time.
George understands that the house has replaced him and Lydia as parents, so he decides to shut the house off and take his family on a vacation. After observing the nursery David McClean, the psychologists, explains to George that “‘This room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, more important in their lives than their real parents.’” David explains how George and Lydia have lost the role as parents to the house. He explains to George that the house, specifically the nursery, means more to their kids than they do. Finally understanding what he must do. George and david head to the fusebox where George “… threw the switch that killed the nursery.” This is the climax of the story. This is the point when George irrevocably makes a decision that changes the end of the story. After talking with David, George finally decides that he must shut off the house if he wants his family to be family again.
George notices the mistakes he and Lydia made that led to their children’s hatred for them. Upon finding out that his father was shutting the house off, Peter exclaims “‘Oh, I hate you.’” and “‘I wish you were dead.’” to his father. Peter expresses his hatred towards George. Which shows that Peter has grown attached to the house, almost as if it were his parent. He’s grown emotionally attached to the nursery and the house and emotionally detached from his own parents. George realizes that the house has become something like parents to Wendy and Peter, so he starts to question why he originally brought the house. He comes to the conclusion while talking to Lydia, that what prompted him to buy the house was “‘Pride, money, and foolishness.’” George realizes that instead of buying the house because of family reasons, he bought is just because he could. He bought it to fuel his ego. George understands that because he didn’t put his family first and spend time with his kids, that they now hate him and no longer view him and Lydia as their parents.
George and Lydia finally realize why the screams they had heard earlier had sounded so familiar. After being locked in the nursery by Peter and Wendy, “Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed. And then suddenly realized why those other screams had sounded familiar.” Earlier in the story Lydia had remarked on how the screams they heard in the nursery sounded strangely familiar. It’s a perfect portrayal of a story being ironic because, the screams they had heard were their own screams as they were being killed. When Mr. McClean comes to help the family pack he walks into the nursery and “… a shadow flickered over Mr. McCleans hot face. Many shadows flickered.” David McClean finally understands what has happened. Initially, he believe that the nursery couldn’t physically harm anyone. Now, he knows better. He knows that because Peter and Wendy wanted their parents dead, it happened. Basically, what they imagined happening to their parents happened. George and Lydia finally realize that along with losing their family, they also lost their life.
The important message that Bradbury is trying to leave the reader with is that family neglect can harm the child mentally, and having quality family time makes the family stronger. Without that there will be disastrous effects. “The Veldt” has been about the parents overly spoiling their kids with technologies, and have their kids lie to them about what they had changed their nursery veldt to. Which leads to George and Lydia finally understanding that they must shut the house down if they want their family back. This leads to the parents realizing just how much their children hate them. Which ultimately leads to the very ironic ending of the parents death. Having a family is one of the most important things anyone could have. Never take any of it for granted, or there’ll be horrible consequences and you could lose your family.