Find the sentences and phrases that at first suggest that Leonard Mead is the only person living in this setting in A.D. 2053.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the words at the end of the first paragraph of "The Pedestrian" and at the beginning of the second paragraph seem intended to create the impression that Leonard Mead is all alone in the world of 2053 A.D., which was approximately one hundred years in the future at the time Ray Bradbury's story was published. These are the pertinent sentences and phrases:

...he was alone in this world of A.D. 2053, or as good as alone, and with a final decision made, a path selected, he would stride off, sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar. Sometimes he would walk for hours and miles and return only at midnight to his house. And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows....

The reader could easily get the initial impression that Mead is the survivor of a great nuclear war, like the few men huddled together in Walter Van Tilburg Clark's short story "The Portable Phonograph." But then it becomes apparent that there are many people living around the solitary pedestrian. He is all alone because everybody else stays inside watching their television sets. They have all become brainwashed, hypnotized, and spellbound  by television. The sidewalks are crumbling because no one ever uses them for walking anymore. This suggests that they use their automobiles for getting to and from their jobs and for getting to and from the supermarkets.

...to put your feet upon that buckling concrete walk, to step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences, that was what Mr. Leonard Mead most dearly loved to do...

Mead appears to be the only person who still wants to experience reality and think for himself, rather than looking at pictures of everything and being told what to think. This makes him a freak in the eyes of the authorities, and it is inevitable that sooner or later he should be stopped by the robot-controlled vehicle and carried off to some laboratory where he will be examined and reconditioned.

Leonard Mead, like his creator Ray Bradbury, is a "writer." But Mead doesn't write anymore because people don't read anymore. They watch pictures and listen to recorded words instead. This has turned the people of 2053 A.D. into passive consumers of entertainment and "information," just as they are consumers of everything else. They have gradually lost the capacity to think for themselves.

Ray Bradbury was always resistant to what he saw as the dehumanization caused by the relentless advance of technology. He never learned to drive a car. A number of his stories, such as "The Veldt," have to do with the threat posed by technological innovation. If he were alive today he would undoubtedly see a new threat in the recent appearance of all kinds of hand-held electronic gadgetry.