The Veldt Analysis
by Ray Bradbury

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The Veldt Analysis

  • "The Veldt" features two distinct settings: the Hadley's Home and the African veldt. These disparate environments converge in the Hadley's nursery, where Wendy and Peter recreate the veldt, which represents freedom and offers an outlet for their resentment.
  • The lions are an embodiment of Wendy and Peter's hatred of their parents. At first, the lions are just fantasies. Gradually, as Wendy and Peter's hostility grows, the lions become more real.
  • The Happylife Homes are marketed as everything a modern consumer could want. However, the automation of day-to-day tasks leaves children with nothing to do but foster hostility for their parents.

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Analysis

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Style and Technique

Bradbury’s style is marked by lyricism and a profusion of metaphors. In “The Veldt,” these create an illusion of reality that brilliantly mirrors the deceptions that the characters in the story undergo. His description of the electronically produced African veldt contains such exact sensory details that it almost seems to be real, and indeed it is by the story’s end. Moreover, his description of the veldt also conveys an atmosphere of menace and hostility mirroring the psychological state of the Hadley family. In a similar fashion, Bradbury employs active verbs and personifications, describing the workings of the house’s mechanical devices in a way that suggests the living, human quality that the house is acquiring. When the devices are turned off, the house is a “mechanical cemetery,” reinforcing the idea that the house is a living thing.

Characteristically, Bradbury’s poetic style transports the reader out of the everyday world and into a fantasy world, often reminiscent of the unchecked imagination of childhood. The world of “The Veldt” is one in which childhood fantasies are made concrete. Hence, the story has an air of unreality about it as if it were simply a child’s daydream of a world in which children have the power and competence given to adults and adults have the helplessness of children.

This dreamlike quality is counterbalanced by the use of clichés and advertising language, which levels a satiric thrust against modern society. Phrases such as “nothing’s too good for our children” and “every home should have one” direct attention to the permissiveness, commercialism, and worship of material comforts that dominate American life. These serve to anchor the bizarre events of the story in an objective framework and give the child’s daydream an adult moral.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Nuclear Proliferation and the Cold War
World War II ended in 1945 when Germany and Japan surrendered to the Allied forces but, unfortunately, the war’s end set the stage for a major struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. These countries had very different goals for the post–World War II world. The United States supported free market capitalism while the Soviet Union believed in a communist society in which property and resources are owned by the nation as a whole, and production is controlled by the national government. Each country’s people thought that their own political and economic system was the best, and they were very suspicious of outsiders. The Soviet Union was particularly worried because the United States had used nuclear bombs during the war. The Soviets were also concerned about the United States being the only superpower to have nuclear capabilities, so they quickly began to develop their own nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb in 1949, long before the United States expected the Soviets to have the capability of creating such a device. The United States also learned that the Soviets had stolen state secrets in order to accelerate their nuclear weapons program. A state of deep paranoia developed in both countries and this feeling of competition and threat began what came to be known as the cold war. The war gained this name because even though there was a struggle between the two superpowers,...

(The entire section is 2,630 words.)