In his introduction to The Stories of Ray Bradbury, the author discusses how childhood memories have shaped his writing and describes himself as “the man with the child inside.” Many of Bradbury’s stories feature child protagonists, but even those centered on adult experiences display his youthful outlook on life through their exuberant prose and emphasis on the basic lessons that life teaches. Big events take place in these tales—first contact with alien species, time travel to the prehistoric age, and even the end of the world—but it is always in the quiet moments of self-discovery on the periphery of these events that characters learn what is important about life. “The Homecoming” is set during the bustle of a large family reunion of supernatural beings. Timothy, a young family member who was born mortal, spends most of the story failing miserably to imitate the behaviors of his relatives in the hope of earning their respect. At the story’s end, Timothy’s mother comforts him with the assurance “We all love you. No matter how different you are.” In trying to be someone he is not in order to fit in with the larger world, Timothy discovers the importance of being true to himself.
“Life was full of symbols and omens,” thinks a character in “The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind.” In Bradbury’s stories, the richness of life is defined by the symbolic value of its individual moments. The simplest of experiences always proves pregnant with a deeper meaning that ensures that no moment in life is superfluous or insignificant. In “The Night,” family worries over an older brother’s late return home result in the younger brother’s first intimations of mortality. The mere changing of seasons in “The End of Summer” teaches its young protagonist the meaning of death.
(The entire section is 749 words.)