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...
(The entire section is 741 words.)
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Lydia and George Hadley live in a Happy-life Home, a technological marvel that automatically tends to their every need. It dresses them, cooks the food, brushes their teeth, and even rocks them to sleep. The house also contains a high-tech nursery. Lydia tells George that she thinks something might be wrong with the nursery, and she wants him to take a look at it. They go to the nursery, and as they stand in the center of the room, the nursery’s previously blank walls and ceiling come to life. The room is transformed into a genuine African veldt, complete with a blazing hot sun and all the authentic sensory experiences that would accompany such a setting. The couple stands and watches the antelopes and vultures that roam the plains. There are also lions off in the distance that seem to be feeding upon a recent kill. Suddenly the lions turn and run toward George and Lydia. The two run out of the nursery and slam the door.
Lydia is still terrified that something has gone wrong and that the nursery settings are becoming too real. George assures her, however, that it is just the machinery of the room creating a realistic environment. The machine works through telepathy. It reads a person’s thoughts and then projects them onto the walls to create the environment. George tells Lydia that the children have been reading a lot about Africa and that is why they have created the veldt. Lydia is still not convinced, and she insists that George lock the nursery...
(The entire section is 1105 words.)