Struggle of Characters in Ray Bradbury’s Works
Philip K. Dick, an American novelist, once claimed, “It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” Humans, under certain pressures of reality, inevitably succumb to the natural instinct of their minds. The characters of The Long Rain, The Kaleidoscope, No Particular Night or Morning, and The Veldt by Ray Bradbury all exemplify the quote on “appropriate” or natural instinct of their minds. The mens’ reactions to the Venusian land in The Long Rain, Hollis’ cynical state in The Kaleidoscope, Hitcock’s solipsism in No Particular Night or Morning, and the children’s possessiveness over the nursery in The Veldt all support the quote. The characters’ individual situations are different yet they all slowly reach the break of their mental stability. The intensity of the characters’ situations leads to a strong desire for death and a struggle for sanity in insane situations; a desire to become a part of nothingness.
Hollis struggles to face death in outer space with his crew members and develops a cynical side, debating everything before his death was absolutely pointless. However, Hollis accepts his death and acknowledges his life as a failure filled with unattained dreams and goals, avoiding the complex insanity of his thoughts.He sinks into the darkness of space desiring death; becoming a part of nothingness. Similarly, some essential characters of insanity are Pickard and Simmons from Bradbury’s The Long Rain. Pickard, ultimately, goes insane and tries to drown himself in the pouring rain. Simmons is also driven insane and eventually commits suicide. The Venusian land does not provide a moment of peace for the surviving men which causes the men to turn to their natural instinct; hopelessness and insanity. In the midst of their insanity, they are no longer able to withstand the Venusian nature and yearns for death. Hitchcock’s solipsism puts him into a position that knowledge outside his own is unsure to exist. He displays multiple times throughout the story his philosophy claiming things aren’t real because there is “no mental evidence” he “can feel” (No Particular Night or Morning, 110). The external world and other minds might not exist outside the mind; the only thing he becomes sure of is nothingness which is provided by the vast outer space. Hitchcock confesses that he “liked the idea of nothing on top, nothing on bottom, and a lot of nothing in between” and him “in the middle of nothing” (No Particular Night or Morning, 110). Hitchcock succumbs to the desire of nothingness and walks into space alone, murmuring to himself, “Nothing. Only space” (No Particular Night or Morning, 114). In The Veldt, an insane situation is presented when the Hadley children attempt to murder their parents in order to keep precious technology. According to Beth Kattelmen’s critical analysis on The Veldt, “Because the children have shifted their emotional attachments from their parents to the mechanistic nursery, it becomes both caregiver and an instrument of destruction.” Their extreme attachment to technology drives them to manipulate their parents’ affection and trap them inside a room with lions.
In the story, The Long Rain, there is a comparison made about the pouring rain to the slow droplets of water of Chinese water cure. The message is water, even dripping slowly, can drive a man to insanity. The Chinese water cure is an intriguing metaphor to the characters’ descent into insanity. The Kaleidoscope and No Particular Night or Morning focuses more on nothingness spawned by the insanity of their situations.
Although the characters’ situations are different, the outcomes of insanity are all within the same boundaries. Throughout each of the short stories, there is an overall lingering feeling of hopelessness and despair. The fates of each of the characters are all the same; death. Simply put, nothingness created by insanity leads to the death of all the characters in the three short stories.
Each of the characters struggle with the intense situations they are faced. Since they are no longer able to endure the difficulties, it leads to a strong desire for death or nothingness. The different characters all withheld a certain amount of insanity from their situations before driven to the point of insanity. As stated previously in the quote, it actually is an appropriate response to reality to go insane because, as humans, we are only capable of a certain capacity. Ray Bradbury is a captivating writer who presents a new perspective at humanity as they slip into insanity.
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