In "The Veldt," how do Mr. and Mrs. Hadley feel about the house, and why?

In Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story "The Veldt," George and Lydia Hadley are having concerns about their home, particularly the nursery. The opening lines of the story consist of Lydia asking George to look into the disturbing sounds and scenes in the nursery. Throughout the text, it is clear that George and Lydia are proud of their technically advanced home and want to provide the best for their children. They have little understanding of what will happen as a result.

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Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt" was originally published in the magazine Saturday Evening Post on September 23, 1950. This is important to the story's context. In 1950, people were prospering (for the most part). Homes and cars were affordable, and there was a fascination with the future, innovation, and material goods.

Bradbury describes the Hadleys' home in this passage:

They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them. Their approach sensitized a switch somewhere and the nursery light flicked on when they came within ten feet of it. Similarly, behind them, in the halls, lights went on and off as they left them behind, with a soft automaticity.

"Well," said George Hadley.

They stood on the thatched floor of the nursery. It was forty feet across by forty feet long and thirty feet high; it had cost half again as much as the rest of the house. "But nothing's too good for our children," George had said.

Bradbury uses personification to reveal the Hadleys' feelings about the house. He portrays the house like a nurturing grandparent who tends to the family's every need. The nursery's dimensions are enormous, and Bradbury notes that the nursery was half the cost of the entire home. George and Lydia express their love for their children by giving them everything that money can buy. This philosophy has unfortunate consequences for the pair.

Lydia is the first to sense that something is not right in the nursery, and the story opens with her asking George to take a look at it. She thinks that something may be wrong with the mechanics, because it seems to be stuck on an African savannah, centering on lions who are feasting on their prey.

George is slower to come to the realization that trouble is brewing. He is clearly very proud of the house and fascinated by the technology in it. Here is a quote demonstrating this:

The lions were coming. And again George Hadley was filled with admiration for the mechanical genius who had conceived this room. A miracle of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price. Every home should have one.

Lydia is more intuitive about the dangers the house brings. She is nervous about how much time the children are spending in the nursery and asks George to lock it. She even suggests to him that they turn off all the technological aspects of the house for a while and go somewhere else, presumably in order to reconnect as a family. She expresses her concerns to George in this passage:

"I don't know—I don't know," she said, blowing her nose, sitting down in a chair that immediately began to rock and comfort her. "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?"

While George is fascinated by and proud of the house, Lydia feels replaced by it. She expresses her discontent by telling George that she can't do anything as efficiently as the house does and certainly can't compete for the children's attention and affection, not when up against something as amazing as the nursery's African Veldt.

By the time the Hadleys realize that their children are spoiled and they've given over raising them to the house, it is too late for them.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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