The Veldt Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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What kind of relationship is there between the children and their parents in the story "The Veldt"?

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The relationship between the Hadley children and their parents, or the lack of it, is a core element of this story. The children's lack of emotional maturity, resulting in a stunted relationship with their parents, is directly responsible for their parent's eventual death in the nursery. Although Bradbury himself has said that the juvenile fantasy of killing one's parents was, in his perception, not uncommon, it was the facilitation of this fantasy by the technology of the nursery that allowed it to become the definition of their relationship.

The Hadley children are indirectly characterized by their mother before they appear in the story; she says they are increasingly distant, erratic, and seem to live only for their experiences in the nursery. They come and go as they please, and they treat their parents like children. They are, in short, utterly spoiled.

The children themselves, once they appear in the story, seem shy and deferent to their parents, but it quickly becomes apparent that lying and entitlement are the basis of their relationship with their parents at this point, with the purpose of maximizing their personal satisfaction. 

However, perhaps the most significant element of their relationship is the fact that they are blatantly and habitually fantasizing about their parents dying brutally at the hands of the lions in the nursery simulation. This suggests that the true nature of their relationship is more sinister, with the children masking their emotions and behaviors in order to mislead their parents into a false sense of physical security rather than simply avoid the loss of their privileges.

While it seems unlikely that the children were planning to physically harm their parents in the "real" world, the reality of their deaths inside the nursery call into question exactly where the boundary of that real world began, and whether it became deadly without their realizing it due to the nature of their parenting.

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