The Representation Of Colonization In The Martian Chronicles By Ray Bradbury
Humans have been colonizing parts of the world for centuries and have been criticized or praised ever since. In Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles history repeats itself when humans colonize Mars the planet, instead of another nation. This due to the fact Mars has become the only escape from major social, political and environmental issues occurring on Earth. When people arrive on Mars as new colonizers, the native population is eradicated and the peculiar geography of the new planet is acquainted by modifying to best suit the colonizer’s demands. Bradbury addresses the concept of colonization by questioning and criticizing it and uses Mars as an analogy for America after being discovered by European colonizers. Many argue that colonization is inevitable as nations are keen to secure more territories and natural resources. However, the novel primarily focuses on how the early settlers colonized mars in a devastating and deceitful way. Bradbury addresses the colonizer’s brash behaviour towards the Martian natives which represents a motif for colonized people. Furthermore, the novel criticizes human nature’s careless behaviour on earth and their capacity to eradicate cultures and nature without any consideration or remorse. Furthermore, Bradbury is able to explore the genre of science fiction by portraying the similarities between the colonization of Mars and America. He is able to show how mankind’s history was ignorant and fierce.
At the start of the novel, the earthmen arrive on the remarkable Martian town that is highly developed. This is able to convey to the reader that societies that are not civilized by humans are not barbaric and belligerent; however, European settlers in the past viewed these societies in this way and ended up executing many natives. In addition to this, it is interesting to see how Bradbury is able to portray the perspective of the people being colonized. He is able to portray the similarities of Earth and Mars from a conversation about Earth, “Our scientists have said there’s far too much oxygen in their atmosphere”. This is able to portray to the reader that Martians too have scientists and are much like humans, even to the extent of denying life outside of their planet. To be even more ironic the Martians were presented in a human-like way in the fashion that they handled the crew from the first expedition, as they ended up killing them without any regard. Bradbury is able to portray the similarities between Mars and Earth, which is beneficial to broaden the perspective of colonization. Although the first mission fails, it is interesting how people on earth persistent to land on Mars without any regard that Martians may not welcome them. Bradbury is able to show the ignorant nature of mankind and their blindness they have towards the perspective of the native people. More specifically Bradbury is able to portray this through the second expedition when they land on Mars and are certain that they have accomplished something significant, as they look for some type of approval or attention from the Martian’s ,“ We’d like someone to give us the key to the city or something like that, and we’d like somebody to shake our hands and say «Hooray»”. However, the Martians do not feel the same way about the abrupt arrival and believe that the astronauts are delusional and execute them. The humans however do not give up on their attempt to arrive at Mars, and by the third expedition the Martians fear losing their homes. Out of this fear the Martians trap the astronauts and kill them consciously. The Martians knowing that they would be in for a violent awaking from the colonizers, they kill only to protect their society. The Martian’s actions are justified when Hinkston says, “Well, I think I’d rearrange the civilization on Mars so it resembled Earth more and more each day. If there was any way of reproducing every plant, every road, and every lake, and even an ocean, I’d do so”. This presents the reader with a sense of sympathy towards the Martians as they only attacked out of fear as opposed to evil, and the arrival of the astronauts are presented as the violent invaders.
Moreover, Bradbury is able to express his insightful thoughts through the astronaut Spender from the fourth expedition. Spender is against the needless exploitation and the unnecessary reshaping of Mars and predicts the destruction of another planet and society. “No matter how we touch Mars, we’ll never touch it. And then we’ll get mad at it, and you know what we’ll do? We’ll rip it up, rip the skin off, and change it to fit ourselves”. In Spender’s eyes, Mars will never be the same as mankind will gouge for every resource available and would not be approached in the same caring manner as the Martians. Bradbury is directly addressing the unrestricted destruction of the environment on Earth, and how mankind has single handedly destroyed nature in the pursuit of resources. The author is able to speak through Spender by saying, “Isn’t it enough they’ve ruined one planet”. With Earth’s destruction already complete, man is going to destroy Mars now. As the fourth expedition gets settled in Spender is upset by the celebratorive behaviour of the crew. The author is again able to speak through Spender, when he is outraged by the disrespectful and ignorant behaviour of Biggs when he liters into a canal. This theme of disrespect and ignorance is one that mankind cannot run from, but should rather be aware of in order to stop themselves in the future from causing such monstrosities.
As aforementioned examples illustrate, the representation of colonization in The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury is able to draw on historical events of Euorpean colonization and imperialism, by using colonized people as a motif for Martians he is able to show the perspective from those who are being colonized. By addressing the situation on earth, Bradbury stands firmly against mankind’s capitalistic ideologies of recklessly exploiting the earth’s resources without any consideration of the hazardous outcomes. For Bradbury the ideal way of being an adequate colonizer would be to understand and respect different societies and cultures in order to preserve the unique way of life.
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