The Veldt Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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What message is Ray Bradbury giving in his short story "The Veldt"?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The primary message of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt" concerns the dangers of overreliance on technology. Bradbury presents a cautionary tale of how technology can completely consume a household and drive a significant wedge between parents and children. In the story, George and Lydia Hadley purchase a completely automated Happylife Home. It takes care of necessary household chores, cooks dinner, and provides endless entertainment to the family members. Despite the smart home's convenience, George and Lydia gradually become irrelevant and their children no longer view or treat them as parents. The functions of the Happylife Home completely replace Lydia's job as a mother; she begins feeling inadequate. In addition to Lydia's feelings of inadequacy, George loses influence and control over his children. They spend the majority of their time in the home's interactive, futuristic nursery.

The nursery is depicted as an advanced entertainment system. It is equipped with sensory technology and can recreate any environment. The technologically advanced nursery also reproduces the children's thoughts. Lately, Wendy and Peter's thoughts have focused on the threatening African veldt, to the point that menacing lions roam throughout the nursery. Wendy and Peter's emotions reflect the hostility they feel towards their parents when George and Lydia attempt to lock the nursery and shut the house down.

The conflict between George and Lydia and their children is directly associated with the family's dangerous reliance on technology. The automated smart home and its technologically advanced nursery have undermined a healthy social environment between the Hadley parents and children. As a result, the the dynamics of their family are completely transformed.

By the end of the story, Wendy and Peter manage to lock their parents in the nursery. It comes to life and the lions eat them. Overall, Bradbury's primary message concerns the dangers of becoming over-reliant on technology. It can destroy healthy relationships and ruin a wholesome family environment.

Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Ray Bradbury’s story, the parents, George and Lydia, have tried to be good parents but have been seduced by materialism. Combined with the supposed technological advantages of the artificial environment they install in their home, the professional advice they seek only serves to further distance them from their children, Peter and Wendy. Through “The Veldt,” Bradbury reminds the reader that parental involvement is an ongoing, constant process. The parents are disconnected from their children, who in turn have lost interest in the emotional connections at the heart of family relationships. The children are undeniably intelligent and creative, but they have taken on the role of adults and reprogrammed the virtual veldt. Left too much to their own devices, they have interpreted their parents’ seeming lack of genuine concern for them as antagonism. Buying things and services is no substitute for close involvement, as these parents learn too late.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The message is that you should be careful of depending too much on technology.  A secondary message is that you should form relationships with your children, rather than distancing yourself from them.

The short story “The Veldt” describes a couple who got more than they bargained for when they bought fancy technology for their nursery.  Like many Bradbury stories, it can be interpreted as a cautionary tale about over-reliance on technology.  In this case, the nursery goes horribly wrong when the children become too attached to it and program it to eat their parents.

The technological marvel of the nursery, which “cost half again as much as the rest of the house” can be programmed to look like different places.  In this case, the children program it to become an African safari.  It seems a little too real.

The father comments that he bought the house so that his wife wouldn’t have to do anything, but the wife is upset because she feels like she has been replaced.  She has no emotional connection with her children, who “live for” the nursery.

"I feel like I don't belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt?  Can I give a bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can?...”

The parents are unnerved by the nursery, and feel it is not good for their children.  They are also a little afraid of their children though.  They cannot seem to be able to say no to them.  When the children deny that the nursery is Africa, the parents seem worried.  Their fear of the nursery’s lions and the unidentified animal foreshadows what eventually happens to them, especially when the children say the nursery is not Africa.

Mr. Hadley looked at his wife and they turned and looked back at the beasts edging slowly forward crouching, tails stiff.

Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed.

And suddenly they realized why those other screams had sounded familiar.

 While not all technology results in children murdering their parents, you can see where this is going.

The two lessons here are that you should not trust technology, or turn over your life to it, and that you should keep relationships with your children.  Too many people today raise their children by handing over smartphones and tablets or sticking them in front of video games or TV.  While this is not quite the same thing, and Bradbury could not have predicted the iPad perhaps, the concept is the same.  Children and parents need to talk to each other, and parents need to know their children and not pawn them off on technology as a babysitter.

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