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

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished 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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