Bradbury creates a tone of silence, isolation, cold, darkness, alienation, and death in this short story through his use of imagery. The unnatural quiet is conveyed through the repetition of words such as "silences," whispering," "murmurs," and "quiet." Mead's isolation is highlighted through words like "alone," "lone," "empty," and the information that in ten years of walking, he had "never met another person walking, not one in all that time."
A sense of cold is communicated in a simile in which Mead's breath is "sending patterns of frosty air before him like the smoke of a cigar," and through words like chill and snow. The dimness of the outdoors is communicated through words such as "grey" and the image of the
faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows.
Here, alliteration in the repeated "f" sounds draws attention to "faintest," "flickers," and "firefly," all images that emphasize the lack of light on Mead's walks. "Firefly light" is a metaphor that compares the light from the television sets in the houses to the weak, sporadic light of fireflies.
Death imagery emerges in terms such as "graveyard" and "tomb-like."
The driverless police car that stops and arrests Mead is first compared to an insect:
a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab-beetles, a faint incense puttering from their exhausts.
The car is then personified as if it is alive. A sense of alienation emerges during Mead's interaction with the inflexible car and the repetition of the word "walking," which emphasizes the oddness of this act.
All of this adds up to a picture of a dystopian, rather than utopian, society. This is a society that is already dead, its sidewalks and highways like the remains of a lost civilization, one that has died because its citizens have chosen a fantasy world:
But now these highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance.
The final sentence of the story draws together these images:
The car moved down the empty river-bed streets and off away, leaving the empty streets with the empty pavements, and no sound and no motion all the rest of the chill November night.