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Way In The Middle Of The Air & The Wilderness - What Happened?
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I was reading Bradbury Stories and came across "Way In The Middle Of The Air" and noticed that the publication date was listed as 1950 and that it was included in "The Martian Chronicles." It was not in my hardcover edition but a more recent story, "The Wilderness" was. I found a paperpback edition that did not include "The Wilderness" but "Way In The Middle Of The Air" was. The dates were also listed as a little over 30 years later in my hardback. I'm assuming the use of that ugly racial slur is the reason for chopping up Mr. Bradbury's book - but it was usewd in a context that made racism out to be what it is - ignorant, hateful and ugly - those guys were the antagonists. What is up with this all of the other changes?


Andy
 
Posts: 209 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had always heard that the dates were changed, with Ray's approval, to set the book farther in the future. Since he wrote it over 50 years ago, in the original, we were already catching up with the dates. As to why that chapter was left out, I am sure it was because some person was offended and was trying to be oh so politically correct. I'm quite sure Ray would not approve. When I was teaching this novel, and keep in mind these were seventh graders, I was very careful when introducing this chapter. We had some of our best discussions of the whole novel about why authors use this kind of language, that the author doesn't necessarily share these feelings or use those words himself, that our reading of it doesn't imply we feel that way, why it's good to study such touchy topics, etc. The seventh graders totally got it. I really think it's the adults that get freaked out and forget the context or message. By the way, have you ever read the follow-up chapter to that one? It is called "The Other Foot." It was never part of "Martian Chronicles," but is well worth reading.
 
Posts: 581 | Location: Naperville, IL 60564 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"The Fire Balloons" is also not included in many editions of "The Martian Chronicles," but does appear in some. I don't think it was the racism of the language, but implications in the context of those two stories, which posed the problems. Mr. Bradbury was a great technological predictor but a relatively poor social one--he simply failed to foresee how Civil Rights and Women's Rights would take off starting just a few years after these stories appeared. "Way in the Middle of the Air" and "The Other Foot" portray, at a time supposed to be the turn of the 20th Century and early years of the 21st, droves of illiterate black people preyed upon by redneck whites who have made lynching a regular pastime bordering on sport, whose only escape is a segregated settlement on another planet! His portrayal of women is, if you'll forgive the expression, equally Uncle Tomish. In this future world, decent women are still stay-at-home servants to their families (no doubt wearing June Cleaver dresses while avoiding mention of the "other" sort of women). Somewhere in "The Martian Chronicles" is a quote to the effect of, "These were the first men. Everyone knew who the first women would be." (If you don't know what that means, look up Old West boomtown life or catch a rerun of "Gunsmoke.") With these attitudes it's easy to see why the appearance of Uhura on "Star Trek" caused such a flap in the mid-1960s. I mean, GOD FORBID a black or a woman (and, in
her case, not even an American--THREE strikes!) should hold a responsible position in the exploration of the stars and settlement of other planets! Never mind that there were educated women and accomplished blacks back in the 19th Century and earlier. It's easy to see how the stories were considered dated and it would take a whole lesson on history and attitudes to even explain to kids "why" they were considered offensive. Easier, no matter how wrong, to simply leave them out of the book.
 
Posts: 2694 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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All good points, Dandelion but shouldn't those receive that whole other lesson on history and attitudes? Just a thought. As for changing the dates because we are catching up - I know Mr. Bradbury approved but I just don't get it. Would Orwell have changed the title of his famous novel to 2015? To me it's akin to the special editions of the Star Wars films and E.T. Some of the magic - some of the history - is sacraficed in the unnecessary tweaking of such details.
Imskipper, in what collection can I find, "The Other Foot?" (I'm not at home right now but I'm hoping to go back and find it in, Bradbury Stories.
Thanks Guys (or Gals)


Andy
 
Posts: 209 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Two birds, one stone:

Also, "The Illustrated Man" does not appear in The Illustrated Man collection in all publications. It is the last story of recent editions, just before the epilogue!
Any info on the different versions and when?

Also, consider the F451 Coda and my post of addresses on changing texts: http://www.raybradbury.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000219.html


fpalumbo
 
Posts: 731 | Registered: 29 November 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"The Other Foot" can be found in The Illustrated Man. Hope you enjoy it! Also, I agree with what you said about changing the years in Martian Chronicles. I think a novel should be left alone once it's published, with a few possible exceptions. Details like the years I feel are best left as originally written. They can make an interesting historical lesson when teaching or studying the novel, and I just don't think we always need to update everything to suit the current generation.

[This message has been edited by lmskipper (edited 09-10-2003).]

[This message has been edited by lmskipper (edited 09-10-2003).]
 
Posts: 581 | Location: Naperville, IL 60564 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Kids are immensely smarter than people believe. You don't have to discuss every little piddling thing to them. You cannot make them feel for things they could not give a damn about. I for one could not help chuckling to myself when my teachers went into their serious mode. It was condescending and pathetic of them.
 
Posts: 135 | Registered: 22 July 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I find that rather insulting Ought Not. What is wrong with having a serious and mature discussion about a touchy subject? It needs to be talked about, and no we can't assume everyone understands all the nuances automatically. Some students have done very little reading in their lives and we can't just assume everything is crystal clear to them, particularly on controversial subjects. It's good to study the historical perspective on literature, it's good to discuss themes and motives. What's condescending about that? I enjoy it especially because the students usually generate ideas I had never even thought of, which I love!
 
Posts: 581 | Location: Naperville, IL 60564 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree that these things need to be discussed. Use of the "n" word in this day and age is not understood by our kids as they have not been exposed to it and may not understand if they see it in a book as to why it was used. Explaining that at one time in history, although not OK even then, it was used frequently may help them to understand the use of it. Does that make sense - not sure if I made that very clear...
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Enid, OK, USA | Registered: 02 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, it makes absolute sense to me. I teach seventh grade students of all ethnic groups and many of them look through the book for the first time, see those words and giggle or look very uncomfortable. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't discuss this with them. My perspective may be a bit unique in that our middle school has always taught novels traditionally taught at the high school level such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, Huck Finn, The Crucible, Raisin in the Sun, etc. Our kids, who are of all ability levels, may need a little more background work to set up the novel than if I were teaching high school. With middle school kids, you can't assume they know things like the historical background on the use of the N word, the customs of the time, what was going on in the world at that time, etc. I never just teach the novel. I teach the author, the time period, the dialect, etc.
 
Posts: 581 | Location: Naperville, IL 60564 | Registered: 04 January 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think the context is valuable. I teach at a community college, and students are shocked that I knew people that used the "n" word when I was a kid, and that I was alive when there were still separate drinking fountains and restrooms. The students need to understand the history -- and I think it helps them (and surprises them) -- to understand that much of this garbage was pretty recent. They seem to assume it is ancient history, not recent history.

[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 09-12-2003).]
 
Posts: 1964 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sadly, depending on where you live, it's not so ancient and still happens a lot. I live in Oklahoma, while not as southern as say, Mississippi, we are considered southern and our culture is very rural and southern, even in the big cities. It is not unusual, unfortunately, to hear that word still. It is not acceptable but it's used and in the south it still is, too. So I think our kids may have a better understanding of books such as Huck Finn, etc. because of the area they live in, but for others I would guess it is a completely foreign thought for them. There are several places in the south where you can find segregated cemeteries and other signs of segregation.
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Enid, OK, USA | Registered: 02 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi, Tammy,

I'd noticed several posts ago somewhere that you're from Oklahoma and I'm glad for it. I'm down here in good ol' OKC but couldn't let pass your comment above. I live an admittedly sheltered life but no one I know uses the word y'all are discussing. In fact, the only time I hear it said is in the snippets of rap music I'm unfortunately exposed to. So perhaps we're not as backwards here in Oklahoma as some might think. At least in my 'hood we're not.

Pete
 
Posts: 547 | Location: Oklahoma City, OK | Registered: 30 April 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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i didn't mean to imply that it's used on a regular basis, but i think it's probably used in this part of the country (the southern region) more than the rest. and if you have the chance to hang around a bunch of rednecks very often, you'll hear it almost definitely. also, i think our kids here have more of a grasp on the history of slavery, etc. just because it was common here.
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Enid, OK, USA | Registered: 02 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am deeply saddened when the word still pops out of someones mouth and they assume that it won't offend me AND that I wont say anything about it. I live in a small town in Illinois and - I don't know it just baffles and burns me. Here's a good question for us all. How many of us stop people from telling racist jokes of tell people not to ever use that word (and other racial or sexist slurs) in their presence again?


Andy
 
Posts: 209 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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