What is the meaning of the phrase "tomb-like" in the story "The Pedestrian"? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Pedestrian," Bradbury uses the phrase "tomb-like" to describe the houses that the pedestrian walks by. In terms of its literal meaning, Bradbury is suggesting that the houses look like graves or mausoleums; they are dark and quiet and seem empty, as though there is nobody inside.

Looking deeper, the phrase is significant because it implies that the people inside these houses are like ghosts, dead people. Specifically, they are "phantoms" who would rather stay inside and watch television than venture outside and connect with the world. Notice how this idea creates a sharp contrast between these people and the main character, Leonard Mead. Mead is the complete opposite: he enjoys walking around the city and would rather do this than watch television. 

In addition, by using the phrase "tomb-like," Bradbury creates a dark and gloomy atmosphere that hints at the events to come: Meads's encounter with the police. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Mead, the pedestrian in Ray Bradbury’s short story, is describing the houses he passes each night on his walks around town. He describes the houses as dark “tombs” and the streets as being like graveyards as he meanders around the “dead” town. All the citizens, except for Mead, are in their homes watching television. They aren’t enjoying life but have given themselves over to the mindless entertainment provided by the 100 or more channels on television. They have metaphorically sealed themselves off from the world (like in a tomb) and are no longer “living.” Mead also comments that he sometimes sees ghostly shadows go across the walls in the houses created by the reflection of the television in the dark homes. 

Bradbury’s use of a recurring death motif through his descriptions of the homes and streets shows his fear that we are giving our lives over to technology. His predictions in the 1950s were unbelievable in how he foreshadowed the effects of television and the media in our daily lives today. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team