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What is the theme of "The Pedestrian"?

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The overriding theme of "The Pedestrian" is the danger of technological domination. The society depicted in the story may be technologically advanced, but it is also soulless, with people spending their evenings zoned out in front of mindless TV shows.

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Ray Bradbury was often accused of being a Luddite: that is to say, someone with a knee-jerk hostility towards new technology. But this was always an unfair criticism, as Bradbury was never concerned with criticizing technology, per se, but rather how it is used and abused by humans, especially by those in a position of authority.

The dystopian society depicted in Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian" is technologically advanced, and this in itself is not a problem. However, technology has been utilized by the authorities to impose a mindless conformity on the general population, reinforced by the serving up of mindless dreck on TV, which the masses gleefully consume every night.

In such a technologically driven society, the tail wags the dog; instead of technology serving the needs of humans, humans serve the needs of technology. Among other things, this means that there's no longer any call for books and magazines, which renders writers like Leonard Mead virtually redundant.

In a society like this, technology has crowded out human imagination, the very stuff of which books and magazines are made. As such, individuals like Mead are regarded with suspicion; at best, they are eccentrics, at worst, potential dissidents. Either way, they do not belong in a society in which technology serves as a tool of political repression.

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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 and possibly lead to further human progress.  

The story is about the degeneration of human society in a highly developed and civilized society driven by technology.

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Ray Bradbury was clearly prescient about some of the looming problems of the future. His theme in "The Pedestrian" is that a society in which technology dominates lives leads to conformity, lack of imagination, and individualism. The lone individual, the writer who no longer has an audience, walks the streets alone, isolated from the homes that are dark inside except from the single light of televisions, "a loud yellow [the color of evil]illumination," which mesmerize the viewers into complacent, unthinking lives. Leonard Mead sneaks down sidewalks overgrown with weeds because of disuse, peaking around corners for the inanimate police car that picks up vagrants, asking no one "Are you there?" longing for human communication, the food of the heart of man. 

Instead, he is halted just as he approaches his own house, told to raise his hands as though he is in the act of a crime. When Mead must admit that he has not written anything in some time (since no one reads), he is ordered into the car and the vehicle heads "To the Psychiatric for Research for Regressive Tendencies." 

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To me, the theme of this story is that TV (and I think technology in general) can destroy a society.  I think that this is a fairly typical Bradbury theme and can also be seen in stories like "The Veldt."

In this society, human relations no longer exist and neither does freedom.  Everyone always just stays home watching TV.  Leonard Mead, for example, does not have the freedom to go out and do what he wants to do.  He gets picked up by the police because he is not doing what is expected.

This shows that individuality has been pretty much destroyed by the prevalence of TV in this society.

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What is the overall theme of "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury?

In this story, based on a real incident in which Bradbury was stopped by a policeman because his taking a walk seemed suspicious, Bradbury imagines a future world where nobody takes walks.

This is a highly technological society, a dystopia in which people ride around freeways in high-speed cars or hole up in their houses in the evenings watching mindless television shows. They have lost touch with nature and such simple pleasures as walking. In fact, walking is not only not done anymore, it is, as we find, treated as a symptom of a deviant mental illness. When the police stop Mead, whose name evokes a more pastoral, medieval world where people drank mead, a beverage made of honey and water, they don't simply question him. Instead, they take him to a mental institution.

Bradbury uses an imagined future to comment on his early-1950s society, in which cars, televisions, and other technologies increasingly dominated American life. He feared that people would become isolated from each other and the natural world and that, as a result, technology would exert a negative and destructive power over people's lives. He later expanded this vision into his novel Fahrenheit 451, which more fully explores the effects of living in a technological dystopia.

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What is the overall theme of "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury?

The primary theme of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian" explores the dehumanizing influence of technology. In Bradbury's short story, Leonard Mead is a resident of an unnamed city in the year 2053 and walks the empty streets alone on a quiet November evening. As Leonard walks past homes, families are transfixed on their televisions and Bradbury compares the row of homes to a graveyard, where the only the flickering of light emanating from the televisions can be seen.

The city is like an empty wasteland, and Leonard Mead is the only civilian outside. Eventually, a robotic police cruiser stops Leonard, questions his identity and occupation, and places him under arrest. Once Leonard is inside the unmanned, autonomous police car, he is taken to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.

Bradbury's short story critiques technology's grasp on society and warns readers about its dehumanizing effects. Leonard Mead is depicted as a nature-loving intellectual who enjoys writing and walking outside. However, Bradbury's futuristic dystopian society is only concerned with watching television and consuming mindless entertainment.

The fact that being a writer is not considered an occupation underscores the dehumanizing effect of technology on society and Leonard is considered an outcast. Simply being a pedestrian is viewed as a threat to society and individuals who do not conform are arrested.

Bradbury is also suggesting the human interaction is necessary to cultivate a healthy, tolerant society. The only interaction Leonard Mead has in the story is with a robotic police cruiser. The police cruiser cannot sympathize with Leonard, deems him a threat to society, and arrests him simply for walking outside. Leonard Mead's unfortunate interaction with the police cruiser underscores Bradbury's theme regarding the dehumanizing influence of technology.

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What is the overall theme of "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury?

The themes of the stories relate to the dangers of technology to society and humanity.

The short story “The Pedestrian” traces familiar ground for Ray Bradbury.  It takes place in a futuristic world where people spend more time in front of their television sets than interacting with each other, and a simple activity like taking a walk is against the law.  Like his novel-length Fahrenheit 451, a lone individual slowly taking a walk outside in the street is unusual and cause for concern.  In this case, the pedestrian is arrested and taken to a mental institution for evaluation because of his “regressive tendencies” of taking a walk instead of watching television.

One of the most important themes of the story is that we need to be wary of technology.  Bradbury’s message is that technology, while designed to make our lives easier, actually threatens our humanity.  Advances like television separate humans instead of bringing them together.  As Leonard Mead walks aimlessly, he describes streets lined with houses illuminated only by the lights from their televisions, with the only sounds coming from either the sets or dim-witted reactions to them.

Was that a murmur of laughter from within a moon-white house? .... In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time.

Bradbury warns us that television and the technology it represents can be used to control us, to make us conform.  Our individuality breaks down, and we become vassals.

Another important theme is that our humanity rests in our interaction with people.  As Leonard walks the streets, he notes that no one ever comes out.  No one even looks out.  Their eyes are fixed on the screens.  While the police who stop him ask him if he is married, the marriage seems to exist only for the continuation of the human race, not for human interaction.  Do both spouses interact more with the TV than with each other?  Why do none of them leave their houses?  To truly be happy, people have to be able to communicate and express feelings with each other, not just focus on being entertained by technology.  It is a warning to us all.

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What's the author's message in "The Pedestrian"?

"The Pedestrian," which was the inspiration for Fahrenheit 451, is a cautionary short story warning its readers not to allow technology to run out of control. In the dystopic world depicted in the tale, it is considered a very bizarre act for a person to take a walk in the open air.

When the pedestrian, Leonard Mead, does take walks, he is alone outside, watching the flickering of television screens within houses, which is where the rest of his society stays. His walking spots are not always pleasant. For example, he wanders at night to a "cloverleaf intersection" near where two highways cross his town. During the day, this intersection is thunderous with the noise of speeding traffic, but at night, it is empty, desolate, and deserted.

Mead is arrested and sent to a mental institution simply for walking around outside at night. He is assigned to a "Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies."

Bradbury's message is that too much technology can warp a society's perceptions so much that simple, natural activities, such as taking a walk, are seen as signs of insanity. He wants us to be sure this doesn't happen in our own reality.

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What is the theme of the story "The Pedestrian"?

One of the major themes of “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury is conformity and non-conformity.  This theme is represented by the citizens in this society who spend their lives watching television and Leonard Mead who prefers to walk the city instead of wasting time inside in front of the TV.  In this futuristic society set in 2053, people no longer read or do much of anything besides go to work and sit in front of their televisions each night.  Meade, however, was once a writer who rejects the lifestyle so many of the three million in the city in which he lives adhere to.  He prefers to wander the lonely streets getting fresh air and reflecting on the lives in the dark houses he passes.  He comments that his nightly walks are like walking through a graveyard; he is alone and doesn’t see anyone else outdoors.

Mead is a symbol of non-conformity, and he is arrested for acting “odd” by the robot police car that catches him on his nightly walk.  Mead tells the police car he doesn’t have a job since he used to be a writer, and that he doesn’t have a wife (which could explain why he takes his nightly walks).  It is so strange that Mead walks every night that the police car takes him to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.  Because there are facilities like this research center, and one can get arrested for walking, it is implied by Bradbury that the government is happy with the people who conform in this society.

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What is the theme of "The Pedestrian" by Ray Bradbury?

"The Pedestrian" is a futuristic story about the threat of the then-new medium of television to human consciousness and human society. The protagonist is taking a walk in the evening, which is what people all over the country used to do. They would stop and chat with neighbors who were sitting on their front porches and thereby maintain a sense of community. In the time frame shown in "The Pedestrian" everybody except for the protagonist has become conditioned to stay indoors watching television shows. They never see nature anymore except for pictures of nature on their television screens. They are isolated from the world, except for the members of their own families--and the members of the families are isolated from one another because they are hypnotized by what they are staring at on the television screens. The pedestrian looks very suspicious because he is walking around in the dark. The robot car mistakes him for a possible burglar. After a grilling by a mechanical voice, he is taken off for psychiatric observation. If he isn't a burglar, then he must be some kind of a psycho to be walking around looking at things when he can see plenty of things on television in his own home.

"The Pedestrian" was published in 1951, in the very early days of black-and-white television, but Bradbury set the story about one hundred years ahead to the year 2053. This was what he thought was going to happen. He was wrong. Television, like so many other things, has proved to be a mixed blessing. It has been adopted into American homes and provided information and entertainment without turning people--at least most people--into zombies. It is not a monster. It has been mostly good for children--and children, of course, love it. It is a real blessing for people confined to their homes or to hospital beds.

Ray Bradbury was a freelance writer whose income derived from the print medium, from magazines and books. Naturally he felt threatened by a medium that competed with magazines and books. (Mark Twain once wrote: "Tell me where a man gets his corn pone, and I'll tell you where he gets his 'pions.") Perhaps Bradbury was not being entirely truthful in his vision of the world of 2053. He may have been trying to frighten people for an ulterior motive. He has a strong tendency to exaggerate. Sometimes he seems less imaginative than zany. In another work defending the printed word, Fahrenheit 451, he creates a fire department that spends most of its time burning books! In other words, it is a fire department that sets fires instead of putting them out.

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