The Illustrated Man Analysis

The Plot (Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

This book was published following serial publication of its component stories in a variety of sources. The thread connecting the stories is the narrators tale of meeting a tattooed man while on a walking tour of Wisconsin in the 1950s. The tattoos move and change at night, each telling a different story predicting the future. The narrator befriends the illustrated man and watches the tattoos become the eighteen tales collected in this volume.

Ray Bradbury questions the need for technology in many of the stories. George Hadley buys a Happylife Home (the ultimate virtual reality house) for his family in “The Veldt.” His children, named after Peter Pan characters, seek their own never-never land in a nursery where thoughts materialize. When George threatens to turn off the house, the children revolt by turning the nursery into an African veldt where lions attack and eat their trapped parents.

Another story of technology gone awry is “Marionette, Inc.” A man buys a robot to replace himself in daily life so he can take a vacation, but the robot replaces the man by killing him and running off with his wife. In “The Rocket,” another story of the wish-fulfillment powers of technology, a man spends his life savings to simulate a rocket trip for his family because he cannot afford a real rocket trip.

Space travel is a common theme in science fiction. “The Rocket Man” depicts a husband and father unable to trade the lure of space for a home life. He stays with his family for only three days at a time before he feels compelled to voyage to the stars. In “Kaleidoscope,” men hurtle into space when their rocket blows up. Hollis realizes that his life has been full of dreams rather than memories. As he hits Earth’s atmosphere, he burns like a meteor, and a young boy in Illinois wishes upon him as if he were a falling star. In “No Particular Night or Morning,” a space traveler...

(The entire section is 786 words.)

The Illustrated Man Bibliography (Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury. New York: Chelsea House, 2001.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” New York: Chelsea House, 2001.

Eller, Jonathan R., and William F. Touponce. Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2004.

Reid, Robin Ann. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Touponce, William F. Naming the Unnameable: Ray Bradbury and the Fantastic After Freud. Mercer Island, Wash.: Starmont House, 1997.

Weist, Jerry, and Donn Albright. Bradbury, an Illustrated Life: A Journey to Far Metaphor. New York: William Morrow, 2002.

Weller, Sam. The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: William Morrow, 2005.