Mine is either The Veldt, The Long Rain, or The City.
Definitely The Veldt, which I am excited to be teaching again next week.
So hard to pick favorites. But "The Rocket Man", "The Last Night of the World", "Zero Hour" all stayed with me a long time after I finished the book.
Wait, you don't have to be a teacher to be on this site, do you? Because I'm only 11 years old.
[This message has been edited by Monkey (edited 04-01-2003).]
This is an all-ages site where all are welcomed.
All right . . . No fair to just make a list. WHY is a given story your favorite? No need for a thesis, but a couple sentences.
I like the man verses technology dynamic. As humans leave more and more up to the house, the father feels useless and the mother feels she doesn't belong any more. The children (Peter articulates it, but speaks for both children) say they don't want to do anything but look, listen and smell. It is a totally passive existence (do we see parallels to that today?).
I also like the discussion between the father and psychologist. The father wants to solve the problem with "facts" but the psychologist recognizes that the problem and cause is the "feelings". Man, no matter how technologically advanced, is driven by feelings. Those without feelings are called psychopaths or sociopaths. Without feeling, we are not fully human. Bradbury's writing reflects that over and over again -- the preoccupation with human feeling.
This story (like the Matrix, coming along later) wrestles with the question of what is real and what is perceived. Where do we draw those boundaries? Can they be drawn? Again, in writing, many of Bradbury's stories have an unreal storyline, but deal with real feelings (see "Tomorrow's Child," for example). What is reality and can we define it correctly?
The story also deals with the question of the innocence verses the potential for evil that exists in children (like "The Small Assassin). If children are inherently good and pure, how do they cause so corruption in the virtual room? Where does this evil in the children come from? Anger? Selfishness?
Then there is the pure joy of the story-telling. This has a very high readability level.
This story is great and multifaceted.
Deals with the random nature of life. The rocket blew up simply because "rockets blow up". Sometimes things that happen in life are random. It goes to the Chaos Theory of life being talked about a lot today. How much control do we really have of our lives . . . of what happens to us, or what others do to us?
As each person dies, they have to determine how they'll die. Will they squabble? Will they be petty? Will they wonder about thier lives? Will they have serious regrets? Will they be able to put things in perspective and get some sense of peace? Will they feel relief? Forgiveness? As each of them has to choose the manner of their death, we each choose how we will live, also. Dignity? Pettiness? Greed? Selfishness? Kindness? Who do we choose to be?
The story, without a lot of descriptive text, provides very strong imagery as you read it. The repeated name of Kaleidoscope conjured up images as you read through the story.
The question of the fear of death and the nature of death comes up. Is it simply the end of everything to do with us?
In the end, even a dying man impacts others. The Kaleidoscope imagery seems to show that life is a pattern -- like the Kaleidoscope, and we each contribute and interact with others. We move life and we are moved by it.
This one examines values and the role and nature of religion. What do we worship? Is it something we can control? How do we find truth? There is the question of epistemology in that we need to understand the nature of truth. The captain doesn't understand it, so he misses truth and pursues it beyond what it is.
Shows religion as both a quest and a resting place. We seek satisfaction and fullness, and try to find peace.
I love the conflict between the rocket man's love of family (when he's in space) and his love of space (when he's on earth). The fact that he is torn between these two loves makes him very real. The struggle is never finally resolved for him except, we presume, in death. Do we always seek something that is beyond what we should seek, and does that hunger and seeking just keep us in perennial unhappiness and frustration?
I also like the image of the garden. He is only grounded when his hands are in the earth itself. But even then, space calls to him after a short period of time.
I like that each person in the family has to cope with his lifestyle and the risk of death in their own way. The son needs as many facts as possible so he can make it real. Facts are something you can "control" and he needs the facts to give reassurance. The mother lives in such fear of his death, she essentially assumes he is dead, so that when it happens it will not be a shock to her. But she lives in a certain amount of deadness before it actually comes.
I like that the focus here is not the technology of space travel, but its impact on the dynamics of this little family.
I'm breaking my own rule in the interest of not boring anyone too much.
Other favorites of mine in here include: "The Long Rain," "Zero Hour," and "The Exiles".
It is no mere surface resemblance that the children in "The Veldt" are named Peter and Wendy, as parallels between "The Veldt" and the immortal classic "Peter Pan" go more than skin deep. Psychologists have long pondered over the role of the Darling children's father in "Peter Pan," concerned that he seems an outside figure somewhat hostile to the nursery world, and that Captain Hook is always played by the same actor who plays the father. Peter is a Pied Piper, leading children into a fantasy world lovely only on first appearance, with hostility and bloodshed just below the surface. The mother is a redeeming figure tying the children to the civilized world, but in "The Veldt" her role has been so compromised as to be rendered ineffective. There's a term paper waiting to be written here, folks!
How could I forget to list "Kaleidoscope"?
This is one of the most solid metaphors I think Bradbury has ever written. The rocket men are "born" into space from the rip in their ship, they live a brief time, and die. Aren't we all falling to our deaths?
As for one of my other favs, "Rocket Man", Mr. Dark hits it right on the nose--it's the family dynamic and the inner struggles that give this story such impact.
I'll never forget thinking what a jerk the father was because he wouldn't bring his son souvenirs from space--and then realizing how much he loved his son and wanted to spare him from suffering the same existence, always torn between space and home.
Kaleidoscope is probably my favorite in this collection. The sudden shift in the end to the child mistaking the astronauts burning descent for a shooting star always hits me strongly, no matter how many times I read it.
I also really like Zero Hour. A while back I got some people together and we did a series of old time radio reenactments, and an adaptation of Zero Hour was one of them. While reset in the present rather than the future, it was still a great script, and the story worked very well in the radio format.
If you guys care to check out the script, here's the site:
there's also an adaption of one of the Martian Chronicles stories there, under the title "Mars is Heaven".
Dandelion, my conception of Peter Pan was never really so... dark. It's probably a bit over-Disneyfied. Maybe it's time for Dan to strike a little closer to the roots...
"The Veldt", because it is so eerie. If there would be a movie adaptation of one of his short stories and I could choose wich, I would pick this one.
Just read "Kaleidoskope"... verry disturbing!
BTW, the ending of "The long Rain"... is it real or imaginarry? It reminded me of "Child of tomorrow" they both end good... but I somehow felt like this was just imaginarry.
Regarding "Peter Pan," there's a lot of fascinating reading online about origins and interpretations, and yes, it entered full public domain a few years ago. J. M. Barrie is said to have invented the name Wendy due to a little girl's mispronunciation of her nickname for him, "my friendy." I can hardly believe there was no one named Wendy prior to "Peter Pan" and that it wasn't a diminutive of "Gwendolyn" long before that. Anyone know of a way to verify any use of the name Wendy prior to 1904?
The Social Security Administration has data on the most popular 1000 children's names by decade back to 1900.
The name Wendy doesn't show up on the list until the 1940's.
Now, that's not to say that it wasn't used before, or that it wasn't used as a short name for Gwendolyn before or after that time.
But it doesn't rule it out. And it does seem reasonalbe to assume that the name Wendy was at least popularized by J.M. Barrie -- at least in America, and probably post-war, though the SSA doesn't give a breakdown by year.
Statistical details: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/1999/top1000of40s.html
I also checked the Oxford English Dictionary on the off chance it would be included. It wasn't, but the term "Wendy house" was. A Wendy house is a play-house for children, directly attributed to Barrie's play.
[This message has been edited by WritingReptile (edited 04-11-2003).]
Wow, thanks, that's interesting.
So far Kaleidoscope.
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