In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt ,” George Hadley is the father to two ten-year old children, Peter and Wendy – almost certainly named for the characters from “Peter Pan” who would rather not grow up – and whose history of spoiling his children has brought his...
In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt,” George Hadley is the father to two ten-year old children, Peter and Wendy – almost certainly named for the characters from “Peter Pan” who would rather not grow up – and whose history of spoiling his children has brought his family to a dreadful conclusion. George and his wife Lydia are doting parents who begin to regret over-indulging Peter and Wendy to such extremes. Those extremes include the construction of an expensive nursery -- “. . .it had cost half again as much as the rest of the house. ‘But nothing's too good for our children,’ George had said” – as part of their Happylife Home, a marvel of technological sophistication that performs every conceivable task, leaving the human occupants to their leisure. For Peter and Wendy, that leisure involves constant use of the nursery, which magically transforms into whatever location or fantasy the children envision. As Bradbury describes George’s contemplation of this technological marvel:
“Remarkable how the nursery caught the telepathic emanations of the children's minds and created life to fill their every desire.”
Lately, however, the children’s vision has been of the African veldt, populated by ravenous lions perpetually feeding on some manner of captured prey. While increasingly concerned about his children’s obsession with Africa, however, George is in a state of denial regarding the dangers the nursery poses in the hands (or minds) of resentful, vindictive children. Escaping a close call with the lions following an examination of the nursery, with Lydia terrified of what might have happened, George laughs off the incident and attempts to calm his wife:
"Walls, Lydia, remember; crystal walls, that's all they are. Oh, they look real, I must admit - Africa in your parlor - but it's all dimensional, superreactionary, supersensitive color film and mental tape film behind glass screens. It's all odorophonics and sonics, Lydia."
As George begins to see the nursery for what it is, though, his demeanor changes; he becomes increasingly wary of his children’s obsession with the African images, but it is too late.
Bradbury provides minimal information on George Hadley. We know he is a devoted father and husband. We know he has tried to do what he thought was best for his children. Unfortunately for him and Lydia, however, the children’s anger over George’s minimal punishments, like shutting down the nursery for a few days, has stoked a murderous resentment. The Hadley’s spoiled their children rotten, and they pay a very serious price.