In "The Veldt," what does the house do for the family?
The Hadley family, in the Ray Bradbury short story "The Veldt," lives in a "Happylife Home," which they say they bought so that they wouldn't have to do anything anymore. This home provides for all of their basic needs: it washes and fixes their clothes, and cooks their meals, sure; but, the story says, it also plays and sings. One feature George is particularly keen on is the fact that the walls and ceilings of the rooms are crystal screens which can display 360-degree images of landscapes to the room's inhabitants. To make this even more realistic, the experience even includes climate control, smells, and sound. The experience feels positively real! So real, in fact, that Lydia has to uneasily laugh off her fear that the lions shown on the nursery walls will actually eat her one day.
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The house is fully automated, and helps the family with many household chores and functions.
The house is a special HappyLife Home, and it is a very unique house. It is a technological marvel, actually. The house was expensive, for sure, and it is supposed to take care of their every need.
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.
The most significant part of the house is the nursery. It cost “half again as much as the rest of the house” and is huge, “forty feet across by forty feet long and thirty feet high.” The nursery is more technologically advanced than the rest of the house, because it can read minds. It projects what is in the minds of the children onto the walls.
A miracle of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price. Every home should have one.
Oh, occasionally they frightened you with their clinical accuracy, they startled you, gave you a twinge, but most of the time what fun for everyone …
George Hadley does not think the nursery is so much fun when he realizes it is basically a psychological test. It shows what is in the minds of his child. He feels disturbed when he realizes that his children are focusing too much on death.
The children thought lions, and there were lions. The children thought zebras, and there were zebras. Sun—sun. Giraffes—giraffes. Death and death.
What the children’s mother is concerned about is that the house is replacing them. If the house can give the children a bath, what is she needed for? The nursery entertains them. It is their bedtime story. She has been outsourced as a mother.
"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."
The house seems to be efficient, but it also is unemotional. As a result, the children have become as much automatons as the robots who are taking care of them. They have no emotions either. They think nothing of killing their parents. Parents are expendable when the house will do their laundry and cook them dinner.
On the surface, a house that takes care of our every needs sounds fabulous. We would not need to cook or clean, or do any basic chores. This is why we have invented robots to mop and vacuum the floors, and we will probably keep inventing robots. However, we might want to be careful how many more robots we invent. We have to remember that the more automated we become, the less connected we may be to each other.
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