What does the Emperor's machine (the garden of metal and jewels) represent to him, in the story "The Flying Machine" by R. Bradbury?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Ray Bradbury's 1953 short story "The Flying Machine," the Emperor is confronted with the news that someone in his kingdom has learned to fly with bamboo and paper wings. The Emperor demands that the man be brought to him.

When the inventor arrives, conversation ensues, and the Emperor decides to execute the man and destroy his machine, as he does not want progress to interfere with the peace of his world. Even as the inventor argues that the Emperor's invention of the miniature world in a box is a wonderful invention in itself, the Emperor cannot be dissuaded, and the man is killed.

To the Emperor, the garden with trees and birds represents not only peace, but peace of mind that he may avoid change in his world. Change is something he feels threatened by, and he believes that he can control change by simply destroying the inventor and his machine.

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