What is a theme statement for "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A theme statement encompasses a work of literature's primary theme and forms a discussion regarding the author's main message of the narrative. In Ray Bradbury's celebrated short story "The Veldt ," one of the primary themes he explores concerns how an overreliance on technology can have a dehumanizing...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

A theme statement encompasses a work of literature's primary theme and forms a discussion regarding the author's main message of the narrative. In Ray Bradbury's celebrated short story "The Veldt," one of the primary themes he explores concerns how an overreliance on technology can have a dehumanizing effect on individuals. In the story, George and Lydia purchase a Happylife Home, which is a completely automated, technologically advanced residence that performs seemingly every necessary function to run a home and raise children. Unfortunately, the Happlylife Home begins to replace George and Lydia as parental figures in their children's lives, and Wendy and Peter begin to dismiss, disobey, and resent them.

Wendy and Peter spend the majority of their leisure time in the simulated nursery, which is extremely realistic and reflects their imaginations, feelings, and emotions. George and Lydia begin to regret their decision to purchase the automated Happylife Home, and they invite a psychologist named David McClean to visit their house and analyze the African veldt inside the nursery. After examining the nursery, David McClean tells George and Lydia,

You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.

David's comment reflects Bradbury's primary theme regarding the dehumanizing effect of an overreliance on technology. In the story, the traditional family structure has been compromised by the prevalence of technology, and the Hadley children no longer respect or obey their parents. George and Lydia have also neglected all of their responsibilities by allowing their smart home to complete every necessary task for them. Overall, an appropriate theme statement for Bradbury's short story would concern the dehumanizing effect an overreliance on technology can have on individuals.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” is one of his classic science fiction short stories, published in “The Illustrated Man” and set in a dystopian future where technology has become far too important in everyone’s lives, even in those of children. He expresses fears of the increasing presence of technology, and he delves into the psychological and existential ramifications of its overuse.

A theme statement would encompass one of the selected themes in the work. In this case, a proper thematic statement could be that the prevalence of technology in our daily lives will lead to a breakdown in the traditional family and individual morality. Other themes that could be explored would be about parenting, as the Hadley’s have abandoned their children to be taken care of an entertained by their intelligent house.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An important theme in Ray Bradbury's work as a whole is the danger of unthinkingly bringing too much technology into our lives. This theme is central to the "The Veldt" and could be a fine focus for an essay.

At what point does technology begin to control humans rather than vice versa? That's the question Bradbury poses. The Hadleys have been had: they've purchased a house that has promised to do everything for them, taking away the drudgery of housework and child rearing. The house does what it has promised, but it extracts a heavy price. The children become more loyal to the Nursery and its values, exemplified by the blood-thirsty and Darwinist veldt, then their own parents. A soulless technology robs the children of their souls, so that they feel comfortable acting on their most primitive desires and willing their parents to be murdered.

A theme or thesis statement might be along the lines of:

In "The Veldt," Bradbury illustrates the dire consequences of allowing technology to have too much control over everyday human life."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A theme statement for "The Veldt" is that children who are raised with no parental supervision will never submit to discipline. In Ray Bradbury's short story, George and Lydia Hadley have largely given the tasks of raising their children to their electronic house and, in particular, the nursery. The house does everything for them, and it largely replaces the parents. The nursery can become anything the children imagine, and they have used it to create a realistic African veldt. The children benefit from constant entertainment and have little discipline, and they do not need their parents. As Lydia says, "The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt?" When the parents try to impose discipline on their children, the children refuse to be harnessed in any way--with deadly results.

Another theme statement might be that consumerism can have disastrous consequences. The Hadleys purchase their Happylife Home at great cost, and they believe that it will create, as it promises, a happy life. They want the house to carry out all their tasks, such as cooking and entertaining their children. However, in the end, the house destroys the parents, which is a warning against the dangers of consumerism and of wanting devices to do everything that makes up the normal human routine. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A thematic statement is the theme, or main idea of the story; however, in addition, it tries to comment on humanity as a whole.  The typical structure includes the title, author, genre, then the phrase "suggests that...", then the actual statement; for example, "In the short story The Veldt, Ray Bradbury suggests that...."

The enotes.com link below discusses many of the themes associated with Bradbury's story, so I would recommend first determining which theme from the list you'd like to discuss and defend.

Take consumerism, for instance.  A thematic statement for this topic might be something like "In the short story The Veldt, Ray Bradbury suggests that being overly attached to material things may ultimately result in unhappiness."  Here, the sentence is true of the story, but also can comment on humanity as a whole as well.

Good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team