Carefully reread "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury and write an essay explaining what advice would you would give George and Lydia Hadley on how to become better parents.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt" has a few unsettling morals around leaving children unsupervised and being overly reliant on technology. To craft your essay , think about these morals. Why is it unwise to leave children unsupervised? Why is it unwise to rely too heavily on...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt" has a few unsettling morals around leaving children unsupervised and being overly reliant on technology. To craft your essay, think about these morals. Why is it unwise to leave children unsupervised? Why is it unwise to rely too heavily on technology to fulfill daily functions? And what happens when these two things intersect, and children are left unsupervised by parents who rely on technology to perform their basic parental duties for them?

The Hadleys were thrilled to purchase their Happylife Home and were proud to provide their children with the high-tech nursery, a "miracle of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price." The nursery gives the children hours of entertainment, and the house itself performs all the chores that would otherwise occupy George and Lydia's time. There is no need for a routine, since all the cooking and cleaning are silently taken care of by the house, and there is no need for much personal interaction, either. Even intimate tasks, like bathing and tooth-brushing, are done for the Hadleys by the house, which also rocks them to sleep and comforts them when they're upset. George says to Lydia,

"But I thought that’s why we bought this house, so we wouldn’t have to do anything?"
[Lydia replies,] "That’s just it. I feel like I don’t belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid."

The parents are becoming aware that by abdicating their responsibilities as parents, they are losing an important connection with their children, but they are reluctant to admit to themselves just how bad it has become. They know that they have left the children alone too much, and allowed them too much freedom. As Lydia says,

“We’ve given the children everything they ever wanted. Is this our reward—secrecy, disobedience?”

[George agrees, saying,] “Who was it said, ‘Children are carpets, they should be stepped on occasionally’? We’ve never lifted a hand. They’re insufferable—let’s admit it. They come and go when they like; they treat us as if we were offspring. They’re spoiled and we’re spoiled.”

But attempting to reassert their parental authority over the children by "stepping on" them costs George and Lydia their lives. The parents, reliant on technology, have become weak, while the children, raised by technology, have become feral.

How would you advise the Hadleys to proceed? The psychologist urges George and Lydia to take their children as far away from the house as possible, to effectively "detox" the children from the technology until they remember (or learn for the first time) how to interact normally with their family. This might have worked, if George and Lydia could have held firm in their resolve to switch the house off and then leave. They are not used to parenting, however, and when the children beg for “Just a moment, just one moment, just another moment of nursery,” George and Lydia immediately give in. If they had maintained their authority, they would not have died.

Given that the Hadley family's dysfunction is rooted in overindulgence, resulting in weak-willed adults and aggressive children, the "detox" solution is not a bad one, and coupled with intensive therapy for the children, would probably have worked quite well to dispel Wendy and Peter's homicidal fantasies. The psychologist prescribes this exact approach:

"My advice to you is to have the whole damn room torn down and your children brought to me every day during the next year for treatment."

This would not address George and Lydia's total lack of parenting skills, however. They need to learn how to manage their children in a way that is authoritative, firm, and fair. Intensive therapy for them would probably be as helpful as therapy for Peter and Wendy, along with a great deal of coaching in how to interact with children, particularly their children, who are intelligent and completely indifferent to their parents. George and Lydia need to build a bond with their children that should have existed since birth, and they must do it entirely by themselves, without help from technology to ease the burden. They struggle with the temptation to just "let the house do it," and are as much in need of a "detox" as their children, though for different reasons.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The problem is that George and Lydia have allowed the house to become the children's parent. The nursery, a "virtual" world, has become the only world the children want to live in. Even George and Lydia, themselves, have become addicted to the technological convenience of the automated house. Their children are addicted to the nursery just as some children (in our time) are addicted to video games, iPad, and cell phones. Too much technology and the child will have less experience in the real world and will therefore have less empathy, social skills, etc. 

Speaking about this problem of technology taking over the role of parent, Lydia says to George: 

This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there's hatred here. 

So, the solution of turning off the nursery is too drastic. George and Lydia should wean them off of the nursery. And if they want to reestablish their roles as parents, they need to take the time to do things with the children. The nursery is the only thing that shows the children attention. George and Lydia must start doing this. They need to take an interest in the lives of their children. In order to begin this transition, they might try taking an interest in the nursery itself (but on their terms). Take some time every day to act out something they'd seen in the nursery. This way, they are away from the nursery (technology), they are interacting with the kids, giving time and attention to them, and they are acknowledging something the children are interested in. The key is giving the children time and attention. George and Lydia need to become the nursery. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team