Ray Bradbury’s Short Story Collection and Its Message
Ray Bradbury wrote many short story’s, most of them take place in the future and have similar themes such as time travel or companionship. One of the themes that stood out the most is Technological innovation. “The Pedestrian”, “there will come soft rains” and “Harrison Bergeron” all relate to this theme. Technology can be good in some ways but it can be bad in others. Medical technology gives us longer, healthier lives. Technology such as the internet and phones that help us stay in touch with people we love. It makes us think differently, feel differently, even dream differently. Technologies can mess with our brains and distract us. It is the reason people might not be as outgoing as they used to be or takes special moments away from us because we do not pay enough attention to what is happening in the real world. Ray Bradbury makes it seem like technology is controlling the real world and tries to warn us of the horrible things that technology might be doing to us in the future if we keep ignoring the bad aspects of it. In “The Pedestrian”, he describes the life of a man who loves walking outside in the dark by himself. He has been doing it everyday for the past couple years. The story explains that he has never seen anyone other than him walking around at night because everyone is too distracted by watching the television. The city is always lonely and there is nothing going on, it is lifeless.
‘And on his way he would see, the cottages and homes with their dark windows, and it was not unlike walking through a graveyard,’ explains Bradbury. Since no one is going out, there is not a crime. The city decided to only have a single police car. One day, the police car stops him and asks him a couple questions about what he is doing. It was so unusual for the police to see someone outside because everyone is always locked inside their houses. When they try to take him in the car, he realizes no one is even driving and that the car controls itself. This story is giving out a very important message. The people in the story are lonely without knowing it. Normally, people should be living their lives by going out and having fun. They should also meet new people who they can build friendships with and have endless memories. In this story they are lonely because they do not get to do any of it. Watching tv is everyone’s main priority, they sit on their couches for hours and watch things that are supposed to entertain them even though the real entertainment is in the outside world that they don’t get to experience it.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” narrates a day in the life of a home whose automated artificially-intelligent functions, such as making meals and cleaning, continues to work after the family who lived in it passed in a nuclear explosion. In this house, there are multiple types of robots such as mice who will clean up every single little mess. The house also has humanlike form in that it has voices such as a voice that tells the weather, a voice that will tell what time it is, and even a voice that reads poetry aloud. Bradbury’s deep conflation of technology with human and animal life especially through his unattributed sentience to the house, shows the extent to which Bradbury sees humans and machines as having merged in some crucial way. A very significant moment is when the dog who dies is unceremoniously washed away by the mechanical cleaning mice. “The front door recognized the dog voice and opened. The dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores, moved in and through the house, tracking mud. Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at inconvenience”. His death seems very painful and lonely. No one is there to mourn him which makes this part of the story very sad. Ones again Bradbury shows how lonely life is when everything is controlled by technology. The family died and were left without being mourned, no one probably even noticed that they had disappeared.
In “Harrison Bergeron” technology is applied to control and torture humanity. In this story the government uses radio transmissions of deafening noises into earpieces smart citizens are forced to wear, crippling their ability to think. The entire narrative takes place as George and Hazel sit in front of the TV. Television functions as a sedative for the masses. Hazel’s cheeks are wet with tears, but because she is distracted by the ballerinas on the screen, she doesn’t remember why she is crying. The government uses televisions to send out messages to people when people that are “dangerous” to society like Harrison Bergeron are on the loose. In this story, the government wants everyone to be completely equal. Harrison does not agree with that and tries to overthrow the government and calls himself the emperor. People now thing of him as dangerous. By the end of the story, he takes off all his tools that make him equal to everyone else and encourages the people he is with to do the same. Television further turns into a means of terrorizing the citizens when Diana Moon Glampers shoots Harrison while he has his handicapping tools on. The live execution is an effective way of showing viewers what will happen to those who dare to disobey the law.
All three story’s show many very important aspects of technology. It shows how technology can completely change another person and make people do things they might not be intended to do. Many of the characters in Bradbury’s story’s are either fleeing technology, destroyed by it, or have taken a role in destroying technology. Bradbury is trying to warn us from the technology of the future. We already have very advances technology but scientists are going to keep making technology a greater impact of our lives. Meanwhile technology is helping humanity a lot it can also destroy many things which is why we need to be able to control ourselves. Technology can have a large impact on users’ mental and physical health. Being overly connected can cause psychological issues such as distraction, narcissism and many other things. Beside affecting users’ mental health, use of technology can also have negative repercussions on physical health causing vision problems or hearing loss, there are steps that can be taken to help alleviate these health issues.
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