The Pedestrian Theme
What is the theme of "The Pedestrian?"
A writer no longer writes because books and magazines no longer sell. Television has replaced books and any other source of recreation or entertainment. No one even goes out for evening walk and if somebody does it’s thought to be weird.
The world has become technology-driven. Individualism has no place here. One evening a fully automated patrol car discovers the narrator walking all alone and learns that he’s got no wife or friends. The computerized car decides that the narrator’s activities are abnormal. His proper place would be “the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.”
Thus, one of the central themes of Ray’s story is the dehumanization of the human society ensued by the technological development. In this advanced human society, the houses are “tomblike” where people sit before their television sets “like the dead.”
Like machines people work during the day time and once back home, glue themselves to the TV.
During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations open, a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab beetles, a faint incense puttering from their exhausts, skimmed homeward to the far directions.
The citizens of this highly civilized world peep out of their windows and flash lights to express amazement seeing the narrator out on evening walk all alone.
Disdain for individualism and loneliness are other important themes in the story. Individualism actually has no place in this greatly developed human society. It may cause utter loneliness.
The narrator, a man with individual thoughts and opinions, has no wife, family or friends. "Nobody wanted me,” he says. He is a misfit in this society and as because he doesn't belong to this place, he is taken to the laboratory. Research on him may make the writer worthy of at least something...
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Bradbury was predicting some of the ways we live now---a world where we spend most of our time watching television, or passively accepting whatever the media tells us, where real human contact and friendships are becoming things of the past. Technology should be used in our lives so it does not consume human emotions or limit our choices.