The Veldt Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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Where does the author use punctuation and sentence structure effectively?

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One key way Bradbury uses sentence structure effectively is in using dialogue to drive much of "The Veldt." Much of the dialogue is tense and urgent. The responses George and Lydia give each other are clipped, punctuated by dashes and half-statements. This reinforces their confusion, uncertainty, and growing anxiety at the mysterious menace their home is becoming.

Another way Bradbury effectively constructs his sentences is to, at times, ignore proper conventions in order to create the effect he desires. The Happylife Home is an automatic, constant sensorial experience. Stimulation is so omnipresent the family has grown numb to its presence. Bradbury uses lists of colors and smells in sentence fragments and run-ons to immerse the reader in the surrounding sensory experience the Happylife Home provides.

For example,

The hot straw smell of lion grass, the cool green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty smell of animals, the smell of dust like a red paprika in the hot air. And now the sounds: the thump of distant antelope feet on grassy sod, the papery rustling of vultures. A shadow passed through the sky. The shadow flickered on George Hadley’s upturned, sweating face.

Another one of these vivid sensory passages is as follows:

And here were the lions now, fifteen feet away, so real, so feverishly and startlingly real that you could feel the prickling fur on your hand, and your mouth was stuffed with the dusty upholstery smell of their heated pelts, and the yellow of them was in your eyes like the yellow of an exquisite French tapestry, the yellows of lions and summer grass, and the sound of the matted lion lungs exhaling on the silent noontide, and the smell of meat from the panting, dripping mouths.

Toward the end, when George and Lydia feel secure in their plan to return their family life to normal, the dialogue becomes less frenzied. Bradbury indicates this structurally by having the characters speak in less frenzied, more complete and developed dialogue. Take, for instance, this final exchange between George and Lydia:

“I’ll be glad when we get away,” she sighed.

“Did you leave them in the nursery?”

“I wanted to dress too. Oh, that horrid Africa. What can they see in it?”

“Well, in five minutes we’ll be on our way to Iowa. Lord, how did we ever get in this house? What prompted us to buy a nightmare?”

Lydia's sigh is the luxury of a person who has time to think. She is being reflective, rather than reactive. George and Lydia have fallen prey (pun intended) to the false sense of security, believing their plan to restore their family to normal will be successful. However, that moment of relaxed resolve is just enough to catch George, Lydia, and the reader unaware of their impending death.

Echoing Bradbury's eerie repetition of the word "death" earlier in the story, the reader learns that this (George and Lydia's death) is a scenario that has played out in the nursery many times before. George and Lydia grew so desensitized to the omnipresent stimulation they didn't even realize they had been hearing their own deaths dozens of times.

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