Ray Bradbury's The Veldt: How Technology Can Electrify or Short-circuit Life

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A key message from Bradbury is that advances in technology have a terrible control on humanity. Technology has taken over the parents role, performing it better than the actual parents apparently could. Technology has engendered laziness among the parents and prevented from learning good practices in raising the family. Bradbury employs the nursery to symbolize how a surrogate figure has taken the responsibility for caring for the kids, and when we consider that the house has adopted technology in doing almost everything, the parents seems useless to the children. Technological progress causes family breakdown in a manner similar to Ellers (159) exposition of how the great depression caused the disintegration of cohesive families. Bradbury builds a happy life home that lays bare the consumerist culture forming the basis of this pseudo paradise. However, when it emerges that the home needs a psychologist, it becomes apparent that it is not as glamorous as it seems.

Technology and the Death of the Family

By illustrating how costly the nursery is, the author shows the lengths George and Lydia have gone in their quest to pamper their progenies. Eller (119) posits that the great depression denied Bradbury the opportunity to attend college contrasting this to the pampering that Georges children enjoy, it emerges that social transformation can significantly improve peoples lives. While one would expect a nursery to be a simple establishment, the author upends this expectation by the thrilling veldt that the nursery represents in reality. In addition, the veldt seems real, which exemplifies how manufactured reality can be alluring, making it more spellbinding than actual reality is. At the same time, it is interesting that the children have built a primordial scene, although one would expect that the children create something that borders on cartoonish imagination.

If one ever wanted evidence of the epitome of human power and the marvel of technological progress, they should look no further than how George gets amazed at the virtual reality of the nursery. In what resembles a commercial advertisement for a theme park or movie theater, Bradbury describes the nursery as a place that can satisfy everyones desire for fun. That the nursery seems too real is testament to how the consumerism culture has made people overrate the value of mass entertainment. To the author, the nursery serves as a proxy for an extension of the television (Bradbury, 268). When the lions charge at George and Lydia during their visit to the nursery, Lydias reaction suggests that, to her, the line separating reality and virtual reality has grown thinner.

Lydias experience prompts her to tell George to lock up the nursery for a while so their children could change, to which George responds by suggesting a rest for Lydia as a relief for the hard work she has been engaged in. However, the Hadley parents are unhappy not because hard work is overwhelming them, but because technology has left them idle with nothing meaningful to do. In the happy life home, the parents do not have daily tasks to perform, making them feel useless and unnecessary in that home. Lydia, responding to George, says she desires to perform the tasks that technology has taken over from them tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and mending clothes (Bradbury, 279). She convincingly argues that their home has rendered them unnecessary and exacted a physical and psychological toll on their health. Lydias desire to regain the tasks taken away by technological progress exemplifies how machines can fulfill every human whim, but they cannot create true joy.

George and Lydia do not have a sense of purpose they have this feeling of belonging in the world, and since belonging in the world means one must feel that they matter, they must be engaged in some work. The parents eat dinner as their kids are at a carnival. While watching the dining table prepare food, it occurs to George that there would be some benefit in keeping the children away from the nursery for some period. Flynn (19) argues that Georges reflection on the benefit of restricting the kids from accessing the nursery attests to how Wendy and Peter could have become technology addicts. George eventually appreciates the danger that the nursery poses the nursery does appropriate the kids as much responsibility as it bestows them power.

The reality that the veldt expresses the kids wildest imaginations strikes George, which makes some of his fears apparent. George fears that, while in the nursery, the kids could play out what they think of death, which could result in an undesirable reinforcement of the kids natural predisposition to wish other people death. Specifically, playing out thoughts on death could reinforce the childrens perceptions of death in a way that leads them to violent behavior. George walks to the nursery while in deep thought, and a lions roar and scream validate his concerns.

As George enters the nursery, he thinks of how unbearable the heat and cruelty of the childrens new fantasy world is the kids are in this world after transiting from Aladdin scenes to the African veldt. The childrens transition shows that they have lost their innocence, and nothing demonstrates their loss of innocence better than one fact does - the fact that the nursery empowers them without giving them responsibility (Flynn, 24). In addition, George is unable to change the nurserys walls, which suggests that he can no longer control the situation. While in the veldt in no ones company, George can look behind and see through the nurserys open entrance, through which he sees his framed-picture-like wife having dinner. Right in his front, the lions eat their dinner as they watch him. Georges pleas to the lions to go away are unsuccessful.

The nurserys entrance that depicts Lydia as a framed picture is an image that attempts to examine reality within the context of virtual reality the authors description of this depiction creates an implication of artifice, where one presents reality as they would present paintings or movies. Bradburys description makes it more difficult to differentiate reality from the artificial reality in the nursery. In addition, the image of the nurserys entrance neatly juxtaposes a human having a meal and the lions feeding, which points to the fundamental savagery of human desires and instincts.

The author advances the theme of the death of the family when, upon the childrens return home, they pretend to be ignorant when their father asks them to tell him of Africa. Caldwell (3) succinctly observes that Wendy and Peter feign ignorance shows that they have no scrapples manipulating their parents. Bradbury also describes the children in way that gives them a near-robotic appearance. What the children do and say seems intertwined, which creates the perception that speak together without showing emotions. The family seems to have a perfect life, but in reality, the parents do not feel useful and the children are devoid of feelings.

When George goes back to the nursery moments after the whole family was there, he comes across an old, bloodstained and chewed-up wallet that provides traces of what the children have been doing. He seems to have a partial appreciation of the childrens recent activities when he locks the nursery. We further see the death of the family when George and Lydia cannot get sleep after it dawns on them that Wendy intended to fool them when she changed the nursery to a forest. The couple does not know what motivated the kids to fool them, and George does not plan to open the nursery before they figure the kids motivation.

According to George and Lydia, the nursery should be a means of helping the children in expressing and curing their neurotic desires, but it has failed to deliver the intended effect. The couple decides it would be good to punish their spoiled kids after agreeing that the kids are no longer respectful and obedient. Although the couple assesses the children accurately, they do not seem to recognize how deep the issue goes (Caldwell, 4). Just after the couple decides to discipline the children, they hear screams from the nursery, and the sound of roaring lions follows. George thought locking the nursery would keep the children from accessing it, but they have managed to break into it.

It is surprising that George and Lydia do nothing after it becomes apparent that the kids have broken into the nursery, but on further introspection, it emerges that the couples inaction should be hardly surprising. Earlier in the story, the children had no qualms manipulating their parents, which showed that George and Wendy did not have much power over their children. The remotely familiar screams from the nursery during the kids break-in seem to haunt the couple, but since technology has infantilized George and Lydia, they safely ignore those screams. Therefore, technologys impact seems ambivalent as it creates problems and cures them the couple has lost control of the kids because of technology, but technology seems to save them from dealing with the trouble of losing that control (Kelly, 33).


After the children break into the nursery, Peter happens to have a conversation with his father, and during the conversation, he does not make eye contact with his dad. Peter admits that with Wendy, they created a veldt in the nursery, and he asks his father not to shut the nursery. Peter seems upset when George tells him of his intention to take the family out of their home for a month, and he goes as far as threatening consequences to his father should he close the home. Peters failure to keep eye contact with his father shows how technology can estrange children from their parents besides impairing their capabilities in human interaction. In addition, that Peter can threaten his dad with consequences shows that he neither loves nor cares for his father, which exemplifies the extent of the kids estrangement from their parents. The nursery has been stimulated so much it makes Peter concerned of nothing but the continued stimulation of his senses. In Peter, we see the downside of technology that Kelly (63) talks about it reduces humans into objects that abhor thinking, loving and sharing, and are only interested in technology that seems to provide instant gratification.


Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. "The Veldt.1951." American Gothic Tales: 264-77.

Caldwell, Tracy M. "The Negative Effects of Parent and Child Conflict." Literary Theme: The Negative Effects of Parent & Child Conflict, Mar. 2006, pp. 1-5.

Eller, Jonathan R. Becoming Ray Bradbury. Urban; Chicago; Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2011. Print.

Flynn, Daniel. "Revenge Of The Nerd." The American Conservative LLC 11.1 (2012): Jan 2012, Vol. 11 Issue 1, 5-38. Print.

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Viking, 2010. Print.


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