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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mystery and Dread in "The Children's World"

Catherine Rivera
English – Gothic Lit
Blog 1, Option #5

            In Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt,” a sense of mystery and dread evolves into an almost certain fate for the victims.  Bradbury reminds us that technology can grow out of control.  In the story a seemingly normal family lives in an automated house.  The house quickly becomes a haunted house as the story progresses.  In the beginning the parents are confused by the children’s’ fascination with their nursery.  The house contains a large nursery that can portray any environment the children want to see.  The children become so enthralled with the nursery that it becomes a way of life for them. When the father, George Hadley, tells his technology-crazed son that house might be turned off the son goes crazy.  He is furious and says, “I don’t want to do anything but look, listen, and smell; what else is there to do?” (Bradbury 272).  Peter is obsessed with all the technology in his house especially the nursery. 
            Peter and his sister Wendy develop a strange bond with their house.  The house becomes almost human to them.  It takes on a life of its own and sense of mystery and dread builds.  Peter is a very intelligent child and his dad says; “He’s wise for a ten year old. That I.Q. of his” (Bradbury 269).  It is entirely possible that Peter could learn to control the nursery and is controlling the nursery when his dad tries to change the scene in the nursery.  The children have developed a fascination with lions in Africa.  George goes into the nursery clearly upset that the children are watching blood and gore in a nursery meant for cartoons.  He tells the lions to “go away” but they refuse. (269).  The lions instead stand their ground and stare at George.  A sense of mystery and dread builds in this scene because the father is loosing control and the house is gaining control.  It is uncanny that the house which is not suppose to be alive seems to take on a life of its own and challenge the man of the house.   
            The parents call a psychologist in to observe the nursery because the nursery is a reflection of the mental state of their children.  By observing it the doctor can understand what the children are thinking.  Again a sense of mystery and dread grows as the doctor and George discuss the nursery.  “The lions look real, don’t they?” said George Hadley. “I don’t suppose there’s any way-” (Bradbury 274).  George goes on to say, “—that they could become real.”  Then George questions the doctor, “some flaw in the machinery, a tampering or something?” (Bradbury 274).  As the discussion goes on the theory that Peter is controlling the nursery grows more plausible.  The suspense increases until the end when the nursery consumes the parents, and the children are the only ones who know what really happened.  The story line in “The Veldt” plays out amazingly well and the creativity of the setting is exceptional.  

Bradbury, Ray. “The Veldt”. American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Plume, 1996. 264-77. Print.

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