What incidents trigger the plot in "The Veldt"?

The incident that immediately triggers the plot can be found in the beginning of "The Veldt" when George and Lydia go into the nursery. However, the conflicts and interactions within this story are themselves shaped by deeper influences stretching further back in time, originating with the Hadleys' purchase of the Happy-life Home itself.

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The tricky thing about questions such as this one is that, in the vast majority of cases, writers will not begin their stories at the very beginning. Rather, in the act of reading, what you will usually observe is a far larger web of influences and cause-and-effect referring backwards into an earlier and unseen history. Such is the case in "The Veldt."

If you're looking for the story's inciting incident, it would be found in the beginning of the story, when Lydia and George go into the nursery and find this depiction of Africa and the lions. This experience shakes Lydia especially, who has become disillusioned to the modern technology represented by the house. This discovery will shape the later events in the story and the conflict between parents and children.

However, as is almost always the case in fictional writing, these events are themselves building off of earlier events and interactions that have preceded the events of the narrative entirely (events we have not seen but whose effect looms over the action of the story regardless). In this case, the truly foundational events would lie in the Hadleys' decision to purchase this Happy-life Home and (moreover) to surrender so much of their parental responsibilities to the nursery. In the process, children and parents gradually become estranged from one another, with the children seeing the nursery as their primary caretaker. This dysfunction will prove fatal at the story's end.

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