What is the overall theme of "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury?

The overall theme of "The Pedestrian" is to beware of technology having too much control over human life.

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In this story, based on a real incident in which Bradbury was stopped by a policeman because his taking a walk seemed suspicious, Bradbury imagines a future world where nobody takes walks.

This is a highly technological society, a dystopia in which people ride around freeways in high-speed cars or hole up in their houses in the evenings watching mindless television shows. They have lost touch with nature and such simple pleasures as walking. In fact, walking is not only not done anymore, it is, as we find, treated as a symptom of a deviant mental illness. When the police stop Mead, whose name evokes a more pastoral, medieval world where people drank mead, a beverage made of honey and water, they don't simply question him. Instead, they take him to a mental institution.

Bradbury uses an imagined future to comment on his early-1950s society, in which cars, televisions, and other technologies increasingly dominated American life. He feared that people would become isolated from each other and the natural world and that, as a result, technology would exert a negative and destructive power over people's lives. He later expanded this vision into his novel Fahrenheit 451, which more fully explores the effects of living in a technological dystopia.

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The primary theme of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian" explores the dehumanizing influence of technology. In Bradbury's short story, Leonard Mead is a resident of an unnamed city in the year 2053 and walks the empty streets alone on a quiet November evening. As Leonard walks past homes, families are transfixed on their televisions and Bradbury compares the row of homes to a graveyard, where the only the flickering of light emanating from the televisions can be seen.

The city is like an empty wasteland, and Leonard Mead is the only civilian outside. Eventually, a robotic police cruiser stops Leonard, questions his identity and occupation, and places him under arrest. Once Leonard is inside the unmanned, autonomous police car, he is taken to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.

Bradbury's short story critiques technology's grasp on society and warns readers about its dehumanizing effects. Leonard Mead is depicted as a nature-loving intellectual who enjoys writing and walking outside. However, Bradbury's futuristic dystopian society is only concerned with watching television and consuming mindless entertainment.

The fact that being a writer is not considered an occupation underscores the dehumanizing effect of technology on society and Leonard is considered an outcast. Simply being a pedestrian is viewed as a threat to society and individuals who do not conform are arrested.

Bradbury is also suggesting the human interaction is necessary to cultivate a healthy, tolerant society. The only interaction Leonard Mead has in the story is with a robotic police cruiser. The police cruiser cannot sympathize with Leonard, deems him a threat to society, and arrests him simply for walking outside. Leonard Mead's unfortunate interaction with the police cruiser underscores Bradbury's theme regarding the dehumanizing influence of technology.

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The themes of the stories relate to the dangers of technology to society and humanity.

The short story “The Pedestrian” traces familiar ground for Ray Bradbury.  It takes place in a futuristic world where people spend more time in front of their television sets than interacting with each other, and a simple activity like taking a walk is against the law.  Like his novel-length Fahrenheit 451, a lone individual slowly taking a walk outside in the street is unusual and cause for concern.  In this case, the pedestrian is arrested and taken to a mental institution for evaluation because of his “regressive tendencies” of taking a walk instead of watching television.

One of the most important themes of the story is that we need to be wary of technology.  Bradbury’s message is that technology, while designed to make our lives easier, actually threatens our humanity.  Advances like television separate humans instead of bringing them together.  As Leonard Mead walks aimlessly, he describes streets lined with houses illuminated only by the lights from their televisions, with the only sounds coming from either the sets or dim-witted reactions to them.

Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon-white house? .... In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time.

Bradbury warns us that television and the technology it represents can be used to control us, to make us conform.  Our individuality breaks down, and we become vassals.

Another important theme is that our humanity rests in our interaction with people.  As Leonard walks the streets, he notes that no one ever comes out.  No one even looks out.  Their eyes are fixed on the screens.  While the police who stop him ask him if he is married, the marriage seems to exist only for the continuation of the human race, not for human interaction.  Do both spouses interact more with the TV than with each other?  Why do none of them leave their houses?  To truly be happy, people have to be able to communicate and express feelings with each other, not just focus on being entertained by technology.  It is a warning to us all.

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