The Veldt Characters
The main characters in "The Veldt" are George Hadley, Lydia Hadley, and Peter and Wendy Hadley.
- George Hadley is the patriarch of the family, a man whose desire for status and comfort result in ennui and violence in his family.
- Lydia Hadley has a desire to be useful rather than merely comfortable, but her intuitions about the encroachments of technology go unheard.
- Peter and Wendy Hadley are the ten-year-old children of the Hadleys, whose unchecked immersion in simulated worlds has made them entitled and uncaring.
Last Updated on October 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 916
One of the two adult protagonists of “The Veldt” George Hadley is the husband of Lydia and the father of Peter and Wendy. George is wealthy, status-conscious, and somewhat oblivious to the goings-on in his own family. Although this is not explicitly stated in the text, it can be inferred that he likes playing the role of the provider in his family unit. He tends to dominate Lydia, often dismissing her concerns about the children. George’s biggest flaw is his consumerist streak, which he pursues without considering its long-term consequences. In his quest to provide himself, Lydia, and the children with a convenient and luxurious home, George unwittingly forges a culture of passivity and emptiness in their home. Lydia notes about George that ever since purchasing the HappyLife Home he has begun to smoke and drink more, as if trying to fill the emptiness inside him. Lydia can see that their consumerist lifestyle is costing the family, but George refuses to see the truth. He continues to admire the mechanical genius of the nursery and assure Lydia that everything is fine.
In the second half of the story, George realizes his mistake. Significantly, this realization is spurred by the observation of David, his friend. It is the observation of a man that makes Lydia’s concerns finally real to him. This shows George’s subconscious gender bias. After David’s visit, George decides to deactivate the nursery and the rest of their home. This shows George is willing to change things after all and has a decisive streak. However, this is muddled by his inconsistent parenting style, whereby he alternates between punishing the children and overindulging them to avoid their tantrums. George ends up giving in to the children on Lydia’s request, leading to the family’s tragic fate. If the story is to be viewed as a tragedy, it is George’s fatal flaws that spur events in motion. Thus, George acts as the primary catalyst in the story.
Lydia Hadley is a protagonist in “The Veldt.” George’s wife and Wendy and Peter’s mother, Lydia is observant and intuitive. However, her intuition is obstructed by her deference to her husband and her overindulgence of her children. It is Lydia who first notes the changes in the nursery and alerts George to them. Lydia also first perceives the flaws in their lifestyle—much earlier than David McClean, the psychologist—noting that the lack of work is making her and George passive and dispirited. She wants to return to a productive life, since the HappyLife Home is making her feel “unnecessary”. Her fear of the nursery foreshadows the tragic fate that she and her husband suffer in the end. However, George dismisses her concerns.
Lydia’s chief flaw in the story is her inconsistent parenting style. While it is she who has constantly been alerting George to the changes in the children, at a crucial moment she relents under pressure. Indulging her children, she begs George to turn on the nursery, reversing her previous position. Lydia’s inconsistency leads to a tragic outcome in the story. In a symbolic sense, Lydia represents a natural wisdom which is an alternative to mainstream patriarchal values. When Lydia adheres to her intuition, she is in the right; but when she succumbs to her weaknesses, she makes errors.
Peter and Wendy Hadley
Peter and Wendy Hadley, both ten, are the children of George and Lydia and the chief antagonists of “The Veldt.” The story does not specify if the siblings are twins; however, they are presented as such, given their age. The children are very similar, to the extent...
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that they appear almost mechanical, foreshadowing their identification with technology. The story describes their appearances, unlike that of their parents. They are pink-cheeked and blue-eyed, bursting with health and good looks. Thus, they symbolize a hyperreal perfection not too removed from that of the nursery. It is established from the very onset of the story that the siblings are spoiled and entitled. Their entitlement is a direct result of their parents’ passivity and overindulgence.
Wendy and Peter are a close unit, with even their thoughts being very similar, as the uniform vision of the veldt shows. However, the siblings demonstrate some individuality. It is obvious from their dynamic that Peter directs Wendy, such as when he instructs her to check on the nursery, implying that she should change the setting. Wendy immediately complies with Peter, ignoring her father, George. Thus, Peter, rather than George, is the parental figure for Wendy. Peter is also shown to be more violent and threatening than his sister. When George says he wants to shut down the nursery, Peter responds “I don't think you’d better consider it any more, Father.” Later, Peter tells George, “I wish you were dead!”
Together, Wendy and Peter represent a loss of innocence, their names being an ironic riff on the protagonists of the classic children’s book Peter Pan. The siblings show the negative effects of technology on young people. It is important to note that though Wendy and Peter are antagonists in the story, Bradbury shows that they are not innately villainous. It is the lack of adult supervision which has confused the children’s thoughts and feelings. The siblings have grown used to a life of comfort and overstimulation to the point that they value it above love and empathy. It is their parents who introduced them to this life.