Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
On the most obvious level, “The Veldt” is a gruesome fable about the destructive consequences of sparing the rod and spoiling the child. However, it is also a satire on the modern consumer society from a traditional, humanistic viewpoint in the style of several other Ray Bradbury works, such as Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and The Martian Chronicles (1950). In all these stories, technology, backed up by commercialism and a utilitarian philosophy, tries to remove the inconveniences, difficulties, and challenges of being human and, in its efforts to improve the human material condition, impoverishes its spiritual condition.
Technology’s offering in this story is the Happylife Home, which mechanically performs almost every human function, including that of the imagination. The nursery reproduces images of the children’s thoughts, in effect becoming their imagination. This relieves the children of the necessity of developing their imagination by contact with the outside world, so that, despite their high intelligence, the children never grow up; significantly, Wendy and Peter have the same names as the hero and heroine of Peter Pan (1904). Without the chance to mature, the children sink to the level of beasts, demonstrated when Peter says that all he wants to do is see, hear, and smell. Thus, they identify not with characters in traditional children’s literature, such as “Aladdin’s Lamp” or The Wizard of Oz, but...
(The entire section is 428 words.)
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Abandonment occurs on two levels in Bradbury’s story. First, the children are figuratively abandoned by their parents when they are left in the care of a technological baby sitter. As the character of David McClean tells George, “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.” This accidental abdication of parental responsibility sets the children up to become emotionally attached to the nursery. Then, when George threatens to turn off the nursery, the children are terrified because now they are going to be abandoned by their new, surrogate parent, the nursery.
Alienation occurs when one feels cut off or estranged from what used to be comfortable and familiar. A sense of isolation and uneasiness takes over. In “The Veldt,” this theme is embodied in the character of Lydia. She is the first to recognize that there is something unfamiliar happening in the house and urges George to take a look at the nursery because, it “is different now than it was.” Lydia clearly recognizes her own feelings of alienation when she admits very early in the story, “I feel like I don’t belong here. “
George Hadley embodies the theme of consumerism because he believes in providing the best that money can buy for his family. George...
(The entire section is 859 words.)