Which types of ambiguity, semantic, syntactic, or narrative, are evident in "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury?

Quick answer:

In the short story "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury, narrative ambiguity is evident. The ending of the story is ambiguous, hinting at, but not explicitly spelling out, the idea that the Hadleys have been killed by lions.

Expert Answers

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As a skilled writer, Bradbury knows that it's always more effective to suggest than to be explicit, to imply rather than spell something out in bright, primary colors. And that is precisely the approach he adopts at the ending of "The Veldt."

Using narrative ambiguity, he hints at, rather than spells out, the gruesome death of the Hadleys. It is strongly implied that the Hadleys are attacked and eaten by lions. But this inevitably raises the question as to how virtual lions in the children's nursery can kill real people.

We know from previous events in the story that the lions can indeed have an impact on the real world. When Lydia asked if the lions could escape, for example, the door of the nursery trembled as if something had jumped against it. But as Lydia was safely on the other side of the door when this happened, we cannot be sure that it was a lion that made the door tremble.

It could be the case that the lions remain virtual and yet somehow have the ability to inflict emotional rather than physical damage. Or it may well be that they really are able to come to life and kill the Hadleys in the most gruesome fashion imaginable. The fact that either interpretation of the story's ending is plausible is a testament to Bradbury's innovative use of narrative ambiguity.

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