The Veldt by Ray Bradbury
The story of The Veldt, is a delving into the issue of how modern
technology can destroy the nuclear family. The editor of the Encounters
book, John A. Rothermich comments that “This story is almost devoid of
characterization.”, I agree with this statement and think it is key to the
plot of the story.
The story begins with the mother of the family, who has quite a
generic name. We are given no information of the characters background and
how they came to the point in time they are now. The lines “Happylife
Home” and the familiar room settings like the parent’s bedroom and the
nursery give you a sense that this is a typical suburban home of the time.
The mother seems alarmed or confused about something, “the nursery
is…different now than it was”, this at first might lead you to believe
the mother has true individual characteristics. However, when you read on,
you see the stereotyped reactions to every situation that comes about, the
parents then say “nothing’s too good for our children”.
Later in the story the parents discuss the problems of the incredible
house and nursery, “The house is wife, mother, and nursemaid, Can I compete
with it?”, and the father has a generic answer “But I thought that’s why we
bought this house”. The parents in the story look upon their children’s
needs as services instead of ways of expressing any love or care.
In the story we never learn anything about the children except for
their obsession with the nursery, “I don’t want to do anything but look and
listen and smell; what else is there to do?”. When the parents tell the
children the idea of shutting down the computerized house “for a vacation”,
the children react shocked and stay with their one, single characteristic
given, they act shocked “Who will fry my eggs for me, or darn my socks?”.
You see then the children’s primary relationship is to the house and not
the parents, the children exclaim “I wish you were dead!”. And sure
enough, by the end of the story the children act on their on
This short story was published in the early 1950’s, Using a major
issue of the time. Ray Bradbury was trying to make a specific point about
the dangers of the new directions of our society, Television was becoming a
baby sitter to children in many homes. Busy parents were replacing their
own affection and time for their children, with the goggle box. The story
concentrates on how this relationship can eventually destroy the family,
even in a future society. In order to do this, Mr. Bradbury concentrates
on his point and reduces the characters into universal “generic people”.