In "The Veldt," why do Wendy and Peter focus on the African veldt?

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In "The Veldt," Wendy and Peter Hadley focus their attention on the African veldt because it is an environment where animals act without regard for the feelings of others. Wendy and Peter have essentially been raised by their Happylife Home instead of by their actual parents. They have not learned to feel empathy or love or loyalty, and they see their parents as obstacles to their freedom. The veldt offers a way to escape their parents' rules.

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The Hadley children are named after Wendy Darling and Peter Pan, children who live, for some time, quite happily and freely without parents. Peter Pan, especially, never wants to grow up, and Wendy Darling also chafes against the idea of leaving the nursery she shares with her two younger brothers....

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To an extent, both would like to remain as children forever but without the influence of parents, as this position would certainly award them the most freedom.This is, evidently, what Peter and Wendy Hadley desire as well: they want to do what they want when they want, and their parents, George and Lydia, stand in their way when they limit the children's access to the nursery. Because the Hadley children have, essentially, been parented by the house itself via its various functions—rather than by people—they have not learned empathy or love, and they feel no loyalty toward the adults who do little to parent them and only serve as obstacles.In the African veldt, the children observe a world where animals feel no empathy but, instead, act to satisfy their wants and needs without concern for the feelings of others. It is brutal, certainly, but so are the children as a result of their parentage. Perhaps they feel a sort of kinship with this environment because they want to be rid of their parents, and they want to be free to act like the animals do.

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The text of Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story entitled "The Veldt" provides many clues as to why Wendy and Peter focus their attention on the African veldt.

Bradbury's story is futuristic, imagining a time when houses do everything for the inhabitants. In this case, the HappyLife Home cooks, cleans, bathes, entertains, and takes care of every aspect of daily living. The children have a nursery that reads their thoughts and brings their imaginations to life, complete with three-dimensional visuals, smells, and sounds. Lydia and George Hadley have catered to their children's whims in every way. When they become concerned about the nursery, they divulge the children's obsession with it to the reader. Consider this exchange between George and Lydia, in which George is asking his wife to lock the nursery:

“And lock the nursery for a few days until I get my nerves settled.”

“You know how difficult Peter is about that. When I punished him a month ago by locking the nursery for even a few hours — the tantrum be threw! And Wendy too. They live for the nursery.”

“It’s got to be locked, that’s all there is to it.”

“All right.”

Later, George is reflecting on his decision to purchase the HappyLife Home system and thinking about how it works. He hints as to why Wendy and Peter would be conjuring an African veldt—they are thinking about revenge and death.

"Remarkable how the nursery caught the telepathic emanations of the children’s minds and created life to fill their every desire. The children thought lions, and there were lions. The children thought zebras, and there were zebras. Sun — sun. Giraffes — giraffes. Death and death. That last. He chewed tastelessly on the meat that the table had cut for him. Death thoughts. They were awfully young, Wendy and Peter, for death thoughts. Or, no, you were never too young, really. Long before you knew what death was you were wishing it on someone else. When you were two years old you were shooting people with cap pistols."

George and Lydia begin reflecting on the things that have gone wrong. George repeats a proverb that says children are like carpets—they must be stepped on occasionally. He reflects that he and his wife have never lifted a finger to correct their children. He admits to his wife that the children have become insufferable, and points to several examples in which they as parents had to say no for safety reasons. Their children's requests have become more and more outrageous. The parents call in a psychologist who explains that the purpose of the room is to analyze children's neuroses and then provide treatment. His recommendation is to immediately close the nursery and bring the children to him every day for treatment.

But Wendy and Peter have become addicted to the nursery, and virtually estranged from their parents. They know that their parents are the only thing that stands between them and the nursery. They have set a trap to dispose of their parents in the nursery, in an African veldt.

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For Wendy and Peter, the nursery is the center of their lives in their Happylife home. The home does everything for the family, leaving the family, especially, Mrs. Hadley, at loose ends. The Happylife nursery "parents" the children, indulging their desire to watch films of the African veldt. According to the psychologist, David McClean, who comes to evaluate the children after the parents become concerned about their obsessive interest in the veldt and its harsh "law of the jungle" ethos, including the screams of people being eaten by lions, the psychologist advises that they turn off the view screens in the nursery. The veldt dehumanizes the children and allows them to indulge the natural aggressions children feel toward their parents to an unnatural level.

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Of all the worlds, both real and imaginary, that would appeal to children, why do you suppose Wendy and Peter chose to focus their attention on the African veldt in "The Veldt"?

The classic science fiction short story "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury tells of some parents who have invested in a technologically advanced home and have installed a virtual nursery for their children. The nursery can create imaginary landscapes for the users. When the story opens, the children have an African veldt in the nursery, complete with lions and vultures. Their parents wonder if it's good for the children, and they threaten to shut down the nursery. The children, in turn, lock their parents within the African landscape and let the lions devour them.

In answer to the question, it is important to understand the timeframe in which the story takes place. The children have already been playing with the nursery for some time. In the beginning, as their father recalls, they created Alice's wonderland, Aladdin's kingdom, Oz, and other worlds from fairy tales and legends. The African veldt is a recent occurrence. As the psychologist who visits explains, the room has "become a channel towards destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them." The psychologist says that after the father, George, took away the room from the children for a few days as a punishment, he became a Scrooge instead of a Santa Claus. In other words, he has become to them someone who takes things away, instead of giving.

The children create the violent landscape of the African veldt not so much as a play area for themselves, but as a means to get back at their parents and win their independence from them, so they can live in their virtual worlds without opposition. In the end, they get what they want in the destruction of their parents.

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Of all the worlds, both real and imaginary, that would appeal to children, why do you suppose Wendy and Peter chose to focus their attention on the African veldt in "The Veldt"?

Wendy and Peter have had everything done for them and, as a result, have developed a sense of entitlement. They have been protected, sheltered, never having to face or endure consequences for their behavior. They have been parented, essentially, by their Happylife Home, which "clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them." In choosing the African veldt, the children have constructed a place "so real, so feverishly and startlingly real that you could feel the prickling fur on our hand, and your mouth was stuffed with the dusty upholstery smell of their heated pelts." This scene seems even more real than the lives which the children lead day-to-day. I think the children's fascination with this setting happens because they are entitled and have never been made to understand the consequences of their actions or the authority of their parents. This brutal and violent setting seems like only a play-place for them, because it is as real-life as anything else they've experienced in their sheltered, coddled existence. It is exciting in a way that nothing ever has been before. They do not respect their parents; they respect the house, because the house has raised them. When their parents threaten to come between them and the house, the children exploit the setting they've created to eliminate the threat their parents pose.

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Of all the worlds, both real and imaginary, that would appeal to children, why do you suppose Wendy and Peter chose to focus their attention on the African veldt in "The Veldt"?

As the Hadley parents comes to understand, the Happylife house they have purchased has taken over as the parent of the children. As Mrs. Hadley puts it,

The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt?

The nursery with giant view screens that the parents built for the children at extra cost has especially become their surrogate parent. Wendy and Peter delight in focusing on the African veldt because it is an exciting place. Most importantly, it brings all their fantasies to life. Rather than putting boundaries around the children, as a normal parent would, the nursery lets them indulge their aggressions. It is only natural that the children gravitate to a place that allows their dreams to come true. The veldt says "yes" to them when their parents say "no" to them. The veldt is especially appealing to them because of its relentlessly, ruthlessly aggressive nature, which frees their ids to enact their repressed violent fantasies. This is far more satisfying to them than, say, a gentle bunny scene. It even allows them to enact their fantasy of killing their parents.

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