How does Ray Bradbury use sensory details to show isolation in "The Pedestrian"?

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All the sensory aspects of the story, in their cumulative detail, give a sense of isolation, since one only notices the external world in this sort of detail when one is alone with it. First there is the silence, then the moonlight on the long, empty sidewalk. In the second...

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All the sensory aspects of the story, in their cumulative detail, give a sense of isolation, since one only notices the external world in this sort of detail when one is alone with it. First there is the silence, then the moonlight on the long, empty sidewalk. In the second paragraph, the houses Leonard Mead can see are described as being like tombs in a graveyard.

The main senses at play are sight and sound. Mead wears sneakers so he cannot even hear his own footsteps. The silence means that the slightest sound, like that of his feet pushing through autumn leaves, is clearly audible, just as dim light is visible. There is also the feeling of cold, however, described in visual terms as making "the lungs blaze like a Christmas tree inside." There is, of course, no street so cold as an empty street, bereft of body heat or buffers against the wind. The visual image makes the darkness seem even more profound: the only bright light is figurative and unseeable.

Mead's solitude is described poetically. Just before he is picked up by the police car, the empty highways are "like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance." This simile links the experience of seeing the artificially empty city with that of the countryside, where one expects such emptiness as a matter of course.

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The darkness into which the city has been plunged stands as a metaphor for the ignorance of the general population in this dystopian world. At a certain time each evening everyone sits down in virtual darkness in front of their TV screens, excitedly anticipating the televisual delights about to be served up to them by the authoritarian government.

Leonard Mead is different. Because he doesn't watch TV his senses are much more attuned to the world around him than those of his square-eyed neighbors. Numerous examples of this abound in the text. But there's one particular paragraph in which Leonard feels the gentle push of his soft shoes against the autumn leaves, whistles a cold, quiet whistle between his teeth, and occasionally stops to pick up and sniff a leaf, savoring its rusty smell. Leonard can also feel the cold, biting air bury deep into his lungs, making them blaze away inside like a Christmas tree.

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Sensory details, as the term implies, convey information using the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. 

"Silence" is repeated twice in the first paragraph. As he walks, Mr. Mead sees "dark windows" in the houses and cottages. If silence indicates that no one is out on the streets, dark windows are a desolate sign that nobody is at home—or, as we find out later, people are watching their viewscreens, cut off from other people. 

Bradbury pictures Mr. Mead as a "lone figure" walking down the street. 

A particularly vivid sensory image describes the deserted highways, comparing them to dried streams:

But now these highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance.

The police car that takes Mr. Mead away is empty. Mr. Mead's house is the only one lit up, emphasizing its isolation from its gray neighbors. In the last paragraph, Bradbury repeats the word "empty," describing empty streets and sidewalks once again, and uses the word "chill" in the last sentence, meaning both the chill of November weather and the chilly emotion one can feel when all alone.

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Good question.

The first detail is in the first sentence. The city is silent. Since people make noise, that means that there's essentially no one out. This is reinforced a few lines later when readers are told that Mead is "as good as alone" in the world.

That means that he is the only person alive--or at least, the only person outside of a house--who sees/feels the mist of the evening, feels the uneven sidewalk "buckling," feels the frost of the air, etc.

Look at how specific these details are. That too creates a sense of isolation: Mead sees the world more vividly than anyone else in the story (which would be anyone else in the world, functionally).

In the second paragraph, you see that Mead's habits are uncommon, and the details reinforce this. He goes to the graveyard, and sees "phantoms." They are "sudden" and "gray." That's rare, and he's the only one who sees them. That's true isolation.

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