The Veldt Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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What aspects of contemporary family life do the “Happylife Home” and the nursery satirize? What exactly have the Hadleys “purchased” for their $30,000 (plus $15,000 extra for the nursery)? What do the amenities of the “Happylife Home” offer them?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Happylife Home and the nursery are used to satirize the value that people place on material objects and technology. 

Author Ray Bradbury commented not long before his death that he once believed technology would be "mankind's savior, but now I think it may be our doom." This idea is illustrated in "The Veldt," as Lydia and George Hadley hold the belief that technology is the answer to their problems. Sadly, the virtual reality walls of the nursery become their doom instead.

Believing that technology is a boon to their lives, the Hadleys have purchased an expensive house that does a multitude of tasks for them. But what they lose from having technology be the homemaker is the human and loving touch and interaction that their children need. For instance, Mrs. Hadley tells her husband that she no longer feels that she belongs in her home, but she forgets that there is more to a child's bath than just the washing of the body:

"The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid....Can I give a bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can? I cannot."

Wendy and Peter do not receive the nurturing and humanizing that comes from a child's physical, emotional, and intellectual contact with parents. Then, because of their separation from the human touch and interaction, the children seek experiences of emotion from their virtual reality of their nursery. And, since the walls of the nursery cannot provide the deep feelings of love, it substitutes for Wendy and Peter what it can produce—the intensity of violence.

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "The Veldt," the Hadley family have purchased a Happylife home for $30,000. This is a soundproofed house which is completely automated: the house clothes and feeds them, and it even rocks their children to sleep. For an additional $15,000, the Hadleys had a nursery installed in the house for their two children, Wendy and Peter. This nursery creates a variety of interactive and realistic scenes for the children, including one of the African veldt.

Through these automated creations, Bradbury satirizes a number of things. Firstly, he satirizes indulgent parents who strive to give their children everything. On the surface, the nursery seems like the best gift that money can buy, but, in fact, it leads to George and Lydia's death.

Secondly, Bradbury also satirizes society's over-reliance on technology. By calling the house a "Happylife home," for instance, Bradbury employs irony. This house causes anxiety, stress, and violence, which is the very opposite of happiness.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Happylife home satirizes the way people try to use technology to raise their children and, more generally, satirizes the way people use technology to try to make life "easier" for themselves. Written in the 1950s, though projected into the future, the story satirizes using television to raise your children, but the satire is equally, if not more, applicable to the present moment, when children can watch media almost constantly: in cars, at home, on computers or cell phones.

The story illustrates that the easy life is not necessarily the good life, no matter what consumer culture might try to tell us. We need to control technology, not let it control us. Although the story says the house "sang to them ... and was good to them," the Happylife Home leads the Hadleys to misery. Technology in this story tears the family apart, in the parents' case literally. The amenities of the Happylife Home leave Lydia feeling useless and anxious as the home takes over her role, and it leads the children to favor their nursery and its viewscreen as "parent" over their real parents. The $30,000 Happylife home plus $15,000 nursery buys little more than unhappiness and death.

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