Digital Age in “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
The Veldt is a short story composed by Ray Bradbury that depicts a family’s life in a technologically advanced house. The parents are getting continually more frustrated as they lose communication with their children due to the automated operations. The home provides food, bathes children, plays with them, and strips the owners of their daily chores. The author transparently demonstrates the gap between the traditional and automated ways of life, indicating the loss of trust and communication between the parents and the children. As a result, the parents started relying on the highly technologically advanced nursery to entertain their children and gradually disconnected from the upbringing process. Ultimately, the reliance on AI has severed the relationship between parents and their children, indicating the utmost danger of irresponsible use of technology.
The narrative of the story revolves around the rapid technological advancement that allows substituting daily chores with automated operations. To demonstrate the capabilities of AI, Ray Bradbury utilizes vivid imagery, describing the automated house. This literary device is particularly notable in the depiction of the nursery, “the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance <…> and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions” (Bradbury 2). The author also describes smells, sounds, silhouettes of animals, and the vivid reaction of the parents to the scenery. Such a thorough description allows the readers to fully understand the overwhelming capabilities of AI and how dire the consequences of an irresponsible attitude might be.
Traditional and Digital
According to the parents, technological advancement was the primary reason for their disconnection from the children. However, Bradbury transparently shows that the parents are not prepared to deal with this level of technology through characterization techniques. For instance, despite knowing that the African veldt is only an illusion, the mother gets continually scared and wants to disable the nursery. She states, “Did you see? Did you feel? It’s too real” and “Those lions can’t get out of there, can they?” (Bradbury 3). Therefore, Bradbury uses characterization as he depicts the personalities and fears of the parents.
Image of Africa
Lastly, Bradbury utilizes symbolism to demonstrate the consequences of digital advancement and the lack of parental responsibilities. Ultimately, the African veldt is a technologically advanced illusion that mimics the sounds and the smells of a real place. Nevertheless, the ending of the story implied that the parents were eaten by the lions as the children kept playing carelessly. The death of the parents is described as “looked back at the beasts edging slowly forward crouching, tails stiff. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed” (Bradbury 13). The African veldt became real, and the children blocked their parents in the nursery – essentially killing them – and it is an apparent example of symbolism.
The Veldt transparently demonstrates how digital advancement and lack of parental responsibilities may lead to catastrophic outcomes. While it is a heavily exaggerated situation, it is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for parents to rely on automated tasks. Many parents allow their children to watch movies and play games extensively merely because it is easier than a responsible upbringing with open communication. Ray Bradbury utilizes imagery, characterization, and symbolism to demonstrate how dire the consequences of this approach might be. The parents failed to appropriately address the threats and cries of their children, and the communication gap kept growing as they continued to rely on AI. Ultimately, the children utilize technological advancement to their advantage and kill their parents, which is a logical conclusion to the story and the mentioned upbringing approach.
Bradbury, Ray. The Veldt. The Saturday Evening Post, 1950.