I See You Never

by Ray Bradbury

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Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 469

A knock at the kitchen door of Mrs. O’Brian’s rooming house is the story’s incipient event. Bradbury has spoken of moments when doors open and the future floods in, and this story certainly illustrates the power of pending events, but the story’s subject is also the pastness of the present.

Bradbury’s style has been traced to the Bible, William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, and motion pictures, and it has been variously described as romantic, poetic, gothic, and realistic. The reason for this motley of characterizations is his penchant for choosing a style to match his subject.

The style of “I See You Never” is clearly realistic throughout, from the soft knock on a door that begins the story to Mrs. O’Brian’s face in her hand that ends it. However, Bradbury’s realism is symbolic, not naturalistic, because he chooses realistic details to point to other meanings. For example, he describes Mrs. O’Brian’s kitchen table as covered with clean white linen, and on this table all is meticulously displayed (even her oranges are precisely cubed and sugared). This is the orderly, affluent setting within which Ramirez has found a new home. On the other hand, when Mexico is described through the consciousness of Mrs. O’Brian, Ramirez’s native country consists of streets covered with dead or dying insects, and the food and drink—spicy sauces and warm beer—stand in stark contrast to her crisp, brown pies, whose color is like Ramirez’s complexion and whose slits are like his eyes.

Many classic writers advised followers to show rather than state the meaning of their stories, and Bradbury’s technique is in line with this advice because he reveals his themes through his characters, their words, thoughts, and feelings, and also through the places they inhabit. Both the landlady and the Mexican reveal through their thoughts, words, and actions that they are basically good and decent people, but their situation is tragic. This tragic situation is suggested at the very start of the story when Ramirez is described as “walled in” between the two police officers. The secondary characters also reinforce this feeling of mutual respect within a dehumanizing context. The officers understand that Ramirez poses no threat of violence or escape. Though he decries his fate, he is reconciled to it. Mrs. O’Brian is genuinely sorry about her tenant’s predicament, but she, too, accepts its inevitable unhappy outcome. Implied in the way Bradbury writes about this quandary for his characters is a critique of the injustice involved in Ramirez’s expulsion from the United States, but it is a gentle protest because the story ends with an acceptance of what cannot be changed. Mrs. O’Brian returns to her children, and Mr. Ramirez returns to his Mexican hometown.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 101

Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury. New York: Chelsea House, 2001.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” New York: Chelsea House, 2001.

Eller, Jonathan R., and William F. Touponce. Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2004.

Reid, Robin Ann. Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Touponce, William F. Naming the Unnameable: Ray Bradbury and the Fantastic After Freud. Mercer Island, Wash.: Starmont House, 1997.

Weist, Jerry, and Donn Albright. Bradbury, an Illustrated Life: A Journey to Far Metaphor. New York: William Morrow, 2002.

Weller, Sam. The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury. New York: William Morrow, 2005.

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