In Ray Bradbury
's short story "The Veldt
," George and Lydia Hadley purchase an expensive Happylife Home, which is a completely automated smart home that performs virtually every necessary function to maintain the household. The Happylife Home also comes equipped with a three-dimensional nursery that reproduces anything the Hadley children can imagine. Despite their technologically advanced Happylife Home, George and Lydia are not content and feel that their home is replacing them as parents. From the beginning of the story, it becomes clear that George and Lydia are not happy with their home when Lydia requests that George call a psychologist to look at the nursery. She is evidently concerned about the nursery, and the ominous African veldt frightens her. Shortly after entering the nursery, Lydia and George sprint out when several lions run towards them.
After running out of the nursery, Lydia asks George to lock it and begins to lament about their lifestyle. Lydia expresses her displeasure by telling George,
I don’t know—I don’t know...Maybe I don’t have enough to do. Maybe I have time to think too much. Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation? (4)
Lydia's request to lock the nursery, shut down the house, and take a vacation is evidence that she is not content. Lydia continues to elaborate on her negative feelings by saying,
I feel like I don’t belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt? Can I give a bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can? I cannot. And it isn’t just me. It’s you. You’ve been awfully nervous lately (4).
Lydia recognizes that technology is making her feel obsolete and George agrees that the home has replaced them as parents. He also realizes that Wendy and Peter have become unbearable and refuse to obey or respect them. George tells his wife,
They come and go when they like; they treat us as if we were offspring. They’re spoiled and we’re spoiled (8).
Eventually, George and Lydia decide to shut the house down, but their children manage to lock them inside the nursery, where the lions consume them in the African veldt. Bradbury's primary message concerns the dangers of becoming over-reliant on technology. Essentially, the short story is a warning that advanced technology has the potential to significantly upset family dynamics and negatively influence relationships between parents and children.