Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
George and Lydia Hadley are the proud owners of a “Happylife Home which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them.” This is the dream home of the story’s futuristic world, and its most elaborate feature is a nursery, which can reproduce any scene in complete aural, visual, or olfactory detail in response to the occupants’ thought waves. The Hadleys’ children, Wendy and Peter, have used the nursery to conjure up such fantasies as Oz, Wonderland, or Doctor Doolittle, but lately the children have used it to re-create an African veldt. The Hadleys, investigating the nursery, are frightened by the image of charging lions.
Indeed, the incident so unnerves them that Lydia suggests locking the nursery for a few days even though she knows that the children almost live for the nursery. She begs George to turn off all the labor-saving devices in the house so that they can have a vacation and do things for themselves. At dinner, George thinks of how the children have become obsessed with the African veldt, with its hot sun, vultures, and feeding lions. The nursery shows that thoughts of death have become prominent in his children’s minds. Returning to the nursery, he orders it to remove the veldt and bring forth an image that he thinks is more healthy for his children, but the room does not respond. The nursery’s apparatus will not alter the veldt either because of a malfunction caused by excessive use or because someone, possibly Peter, has tampered with the machinery.
When the children arrive home from a carnival, George questions them about the nursery, but the children deny all knowledge of the veldt. Going to the nursery again, the Hadleys find a different scene in it, which must...
(The entire section is 741 words.)
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