What point of view is used in Bradbury's "The Veldt", and how is it important?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them. Their approach sensitized a switch somewhere and the nursery light flicked on when they came within ten feet of it.

This is an interesting question. The story starts out with dialogue between Lydia and George Hadley:

"George, I wish you'd look at the nursery."
"What's wrong with it?"

This plunge into dialogue gives a sense of immediacy and an impression of direct address. In other words, having the opening sentences in dialogue conjures the illusion of first-person point of view. Nonetheless, the true point of view is made quite clear after the ten lines of dialogue when the narrator first comments:

They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home.

It is here that the third-person narrator intervenes in the story and directs the reader's attention to setting and characterization, two important elements to the story.

The third-person point of view is outside the story but looks in and discloses what is observed by describing it, interpreting it, or commenting on it. This narrator is a distant narrator who does not enter into Lydia's or George's thought or feelings. The narrator has a limited point of view that reports only what is done, said, heard, seen etc; the point of view is limited to sensory observations. This is interesting because the nursery's actions can also be reported with the same detail.

Ironically this limited point of view--limited to a rare glimpse inside George's perceptions--equates the humans and the room in two ways.

  • First, the nursery's observable sensory experience is reported with as much details as is that of George and Lydia, thus making the nursery, Lydia, and George equally "human."
  • Second, The room's sensory experience is reported with more detail than that of Wendy and Peter thus making the room more "human" than Wendy and Peter.

In fact, their entrance corroborates this impression of Wendy's and Peter's reduced humanity; they come in such a distanced manner:

"Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad."
The Hadleys turned. Wendy and Peter were coming in the front door, cheeks like peppermint candy, eyes like bright blue agate marbles, ...

Therefore the point of view (limited third person) is important because sensory perceptions are emphasized and heightened. It is appropriate because the HappyLife Home is attune to only sensory measures, to only observable and quantifiable sensory data, which in the end triumphs over the nobility of inner human impulses.