What kind of mood or atmosphere does the setting suggest?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story, “The Pedestrian” takes place in November of 2053 in a large city at night.  From the very beginning, Bradbury sets the mood of the story through his descriptions of the houses and environment as Leonard Mead is taking his nightly walk alone in the city.  First of all, the evening is “misty” and eerily “silent."   Mead walks on a “buckled sidewalk” (showing lack of use and repair) and notices the dark windows of the homes he walks by.  He feels as if he is walking through a “graveyard.”  He says, “Sudden gray phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomb-like building was still open.”  The homes are dark, and the light from the television casts shadows of those watching it on the walls. These descriptions set up a creepy, suspenseful mood, as we know that Mead is outside and alone in the city.  The “death” motif carried throughout the story also adds to the mood of the story. In addition, Bradbury repeats the words “silent” and “empty” throughout the story to again create a mood.

In the end, Mead is picked up by the robot police car for walking at night and was taken to The Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies where he will be reprogrammed to fit into the society whose obsession with television controls their lives. Bradbury ends the story with a mood that shows the anxiety (note how many times he uses the word, “empty” in the last paragraph) of what happens when technology takes over our lives.   

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of "The Pedestrian" is eerie. Bradbury places the reader in the setting by using the second person perspective and the word "you." He writes that you "step over grassy seams and make your way, hands in pockets, through the silences." The reader immediately senses the vacancy and silence of the world Bradbury has created.

The setting of the story is a seemingly vacant city in 2053. The lone character, Leonard Mead, makes his way through the streets as he looks at the dark houses that resemble a graveyard. The only sounds are the sounds of the TV coming from the houses and his whistling and footsteps. He has never met another pedestrian in all his years of walking. He imagines hearing laughter or other sounds, but the people he imagines making these noises never materialize. The setting creates a sense of paranoia, despondency, and alienation in the reader as Leonard walks alone through the city, imagining human companions who do not appear, only hearing the noises of machines. 

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