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When writing a response essay, the student will want to have a conversation about "The Veldt." In other words, this essay is the student's personal reaction and interaction with the text. Here are three things to consider in writing a personal response to this story:
- What values, meanings, and messages is Bradbury examining?
- How do I feel about what Bradbury expresses?
- In what ways has reading this text and reflecting upon it affected my own life experience?
For one thing, Ray Bradbury's stories point to his vision of a contemporary social ill that can worsen in the future. For example, in "The Veldt," the children become so alienated from their parents because of their absorption in the virtual reality of the playroom that they come to perceive their parents as merely obsolete and an interference to their pleasure. In a response, the student could ask, " Do I see this lack of interaction with family in my life? If so, what has happened? Are phones and other devices absorbing too much of my time or others' time? Am I developing a relationship with my parents and friends that is wholesome and worthwhile? Do I see this as a problem? What solutions are there for me in this time that I live in?
In "The Veldt," there are at least two problems to which you can respond:
- Technology has become so advanced that it dominates the children's world and seems more "real" than real life.
"Perhaps Lydia was right. Perhaps they [the children] needed a little vacation from the fantasy which was growing a bit too real for ten-year-old children."
- There is little interaction between the parents and the children, and they are becoming dehumanized. When the parents suggest that they turn the house off for a month and all live "sort of a carefree one-for-all existence," Peter replies, "I don't want to do anything but look and listen and smell; what else is there to do?" (Lives are passive.)
I'm not sure what your response essay needs to focus on. Tone? Themes? I'll assume that you are trying to focus on main idea themes from "The Veldt." You could focus on how technology plays a central role throughout the story. Technology has made life incredibly easy in Bradbury's world—according to George, perhaps a bit too easy. You could spend time analyzing when and why he feels this way. You also might be able to discuss whether or not you think this is a realistic possibility for the future of technology.
Technology also plays a role in the dynamics of "family." Is Bradbury hinting that technology is causing damage to standard family dynamics? In addition to the family angle, you could make a case that most of the characters are unhappy and dissatisfied people. Why is that? Is it that the technology is doing so much for these people that they have nothing left to do and therefore feel their lives have no purpose or meaning?
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