In "The Veldt," what happens to George and Lydia? Why?

Expert Answers

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

The climax of Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt " is George and Lydia's death in the simulated African veldt within the nursery.  However, before they are trapped and killed by the machinations within the room, their conversations reveal that there are a lot of other things happening to them,...

Unlock
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

The climax of Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt" is George and Lydia's death in the simulated African veldt within the nursery.  However, before they are trapped and killed by the machinations within the room, their conversations reveal that there are a lot of other things happening to them, and between them. 

The house that the family lives in is a state-of-the-art marvel.  There are motion-censor lights and doors, and the entire home is technologically advanced, even beyond our current time.  However, while the house is on the cutting edge, George and Lydia feel as if they are not.

Early in the short story, the parents have a conversation regarding the progress of society and technology and begin to open up to one another regarding Lydia's growing discontent.  She confides her belief that she isn't doing enough, and wishes to go back to a more domestic role within the family, as is shown in her conversation with George:

"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?"
"You mean you want to fry my eggs for me?"
"Yes." She nodded.
"And dam my socks?"
"Yes." A frantic, watery-eyed nodding.
"And sweep the house?"
"Yes, yes - oh, yes!'' "But I thought that's why we bought this house, so we wouldn't have to do anything?"
"That's just it. 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."
"I suppose I have been smoking too much."
"You look as if you didn't know what to do with yourself in this house, either. You smoke a little more every morning and drink a little more every afternoon and need a little more sedative every night. You're beginning to feel unnecessary too."
"Am I?" He paused and tried to feel into himself to see what was really there.


Before their deaths, both parents experience feelings of inadequacy.  Because the house is so intelligent, they begin to believe that they are obsolete.  They do very little, because the house itself is capable of taking care of their children's needs.  Their relationship with the kids has become contentious; their own feelings of inadequacy are quickly reinforced by the fact that their own children want to be rid of them, which leads to their deaths near the end of the story.

 

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

In Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt," the children in the story—Peter and Wendy—lure their parents into the nursery where they are eaten by lions conjured from the children's minds. In the story, the nursery wasn't supposed to be more than a room that transports the children to whatever their imaginations will take them, simulating these worlds through "crystal walls," temperature controls and "odorphonics and sonics." However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the room has morphed into something "too real."

Wendy and Peter are upset because their parents have threatened to turn off the computer-controlled house and, by extension, the nursery. They've locked the nursery before and "the tantrum [Peter] threw! And Wendy too. They live for the nursery." George, the children's father, is very concerned about the "death thoughts" that seemed to emanate from the children's minds and show up in the nursery. Unfortunately for George and his wife Lydia, the children's death thoughts centered on them. There is foreshadowing present throughout, particularly the screams that "sound familiar." It turns out that these screams belong to George and Lydia.

Like he does with much of his science fiction, Bradbury uses "The Veldt" to explore what happens when humans give too much control away to non-human devices. In this story, the house and the nursery have replaced the parents and, as a result, when George and Lydia attempt to take away the house and the nursery, the children act in a protective, albeit violent, way.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team