What is the symbolism behind the nursery in "The Veldt"?
"The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury
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Like Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, Ray Bradbury was concerned with the potential dangers of technology. In his short story, "The Veldt" Bradbury presents a scenario in which technology supersedes its creators. For, the psychologist friend David McClean tells George Hadley that he has a bad feeling about the nursery:
One of the original uses of these nurseries was so that we could study the patterns left on the walls by the child's mind, study at our leisure, and help the child. In this case, however, the room has become a channel toward--destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them."
Further, the psychologist tells George that he has let the house replace him and his wife in the children's affections. Thus, the room, the veldt, without the constraints of parents and human civilization, has become a savage environment of a technology that is outside the realm of human control.
To understand this excellent short story it is vitally important to understand what the nursery represents symbolically to the children and how this is contributing to the sense of animosity in the family between the parents and the children. Interestingly, David McClean himself explains pretty bluntly what the nursery now has come to represent to the children and why it is so important to them:
You've let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children's affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there's hatred here. You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun.
Thus, symbolically, the nursery has become a substitute parent for the children, and now reflects their anger and hatred of their parents for wanting to turn it off and to forcibly separate them from this parent. Bradbury in this short story presents us with a future world where we have become too dependent on technology for everything, and as a result there are horrendous circumstances and social breakdowns, such as the one indicated in this story.
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