“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury is a short story about a husband and wife who buy a “Happylife Home” to do all of their daily chores. It includes a nursery that will respond to whatever a person thinks. In this short story, Bradbury suggests of technology is reaching a point where it is no longer helpful, but harmful. This theme is portrayed through Bradbury’s use of stylistic devices, and character.
Bradbury’s style throughout his story aids in portraying his theme of technology’s harmful effects. Irony is a one of the stylistic devices that he uses. When a person thinks of a nursery, he pictures a safe, happy place where children can play with their siblings and parents. In this story however, Bradbury keeps the idea of the nursery being a place for play, but he has replaced the typical caregivers, parents or a nanny, with an inanimate machine. This change is the catalyst for of all the disastrous events that take place. The children become more attached to the nursery than their own parents and they become rebellious toward them. Peter even said this to his father “I don’t think you’d better consider it any more, Father” (Bradbury).
Peter is talking back to his father and it is a result of this rebellion. It is also ironic that the house that is supposed to make life easier so that you have more time to do other things, has made it so easy that a person has so much free time; they do not know what else to do. This is shown when Lydia says to George, “you smoke a little more every morning, and drink a little more every afternoon, and need a little more sedative every night” (Bradbury). Bradbury also uses foreshadowing in the conversation between George and Lydia when she says “Those screams—they sound familiar.” “Do they?” responds George “Yes, awfully” replies Lydia (Bradbury). The reader becomes uncomfortable because of the suggested violence. This violence is a direct result of the nursery being shut down. Technology has become harmful. These stylistic devices connect to Bradbury’s theme.
Additionally, Bradbury’s characters help convey his theme of technology being more harmful than helpful. George and Lydia feel unnecessary in the house because the house does everything for them. Lydia says, she feels like she does not belong there. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid. Can she give a bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub bath can? She cannot. Technology has made her feel useless. The two children, Peter and Wendy, are two perfect example of how technology can negatively affect children. They spend countless hours inside the nursery and barely any time with their parents. They are pretty much devastated when George said that he is going to shut down the house.
The children do not know what life is like without the house to do everything for them. Peter even says, “Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth, and comb my hair, and give myself a bath? (Bradbury)”. This child does not even know how to comb his own hair because he has had a mechanical house do it for him his entire life. Through the use of advanced technology, Bradbury expresses his theme when he discloses the uselessness of the mother, and the helplessness of the children.
Through the use of stylistic devices and character, Bradbury conveys his theme of the destructiveness of technology. He shows the reader that if technology reaches a point where it is doing daily chores and simple tasks for society, then we will forget how to do these things and will not be able to survive without the technology. Even though Bradbury writes this short story over fifty years ago, he still knows that technology will reach a point that it makes children disconnect from their parents. Peter and Wendy are a symbol of today’s youth and if society does not change, it will not bode well for future generations.