What mental and emotional effects does the veldt have on the children, the parents, and the psychologist in Bradbury's "The Velt"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt," published in 1951, reflects the concerns of other science fiction writers such as Aldous Huxley who published Brave New World in 1932:  The advancement of technology ahead of the advancement of humanity.  Much as in his other short story "There Will Come Soft Rains," in which the house continues to operate on its own after a nuclear blast kills all the occupants, the playroom of the Hadley children virtually controls the lives of the occupants.  The children "live for the nursery," says George Hadley to his wife.

Thus, there is an uneasiness generated in the parents as they sense the control that the Veldt room holds upon Wendy and Peter, their children.  For, the children have alienated themselves from their parents, expressing no desire to participate in any familial activities such as dinner.  Without their children to care for, Lydia feels unneeded since the house responds to the smallest need, such as ketchup.  For instance, when the diningroom table produces warm dishes of food, George Hadley simply has to ask it for ketchup or anything else and the item appears.

When the Hadley's friend David McClean, who is a psychologist, arrives, they ask him to inspect the African veldtland.  Upon entering this playroom of the children, McClean remarks that it does not "feel good":

"This is very bad.  My advice to you is to have the whole damn room torn down and your chidren brought to me every day during the next year for treatment...In this case the room has become a channel for destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them."

Further, the psychologist tells George Hadley that he has allowed the room to take the place of him and his wife in the children's affections.  But, when George tries to shut down the room, Peter tells his father, "Oh, I hate you...I wish you were dead."  Peter's father replies that he and his wife were dead, but now they are going to live as a family.  The house has become what George Hadley has called "a nightmare."  And, the dramatic irony of George's lines is that he does not realize how nightmarish it is.

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