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Death Of The Literate World In Ray Bradbury's The Pedestrian

728 words - 3 pages

Ray Bradbury's short story, "The Pedestrian," shows the not-too-distant future in a very unfavorable light. The thinking world has been eaten away by the convenience that is high technology. This decay is represented by the fate that befalls Leonard Mead. Though only an isolated incident, it foreshadows the end of thinking, literate society.

The world in the year 2053 is populated by people who are more dead than alive. Their technology has made them very lazy. Walking has become obsolete, as the title of the story indicates. Leonard Mead is not a pedestrian; he is, in a city of three million people (105), the pedestrian. Walking had become so uncommon, that the sidewalk was "vanishing under flowers and grass" (104-105). Bradbury further illustrates the lack of foot traffic by stating that Mead had walked for ten years without meeting another person on the street (105). If the process of evolution holds true, the inhabitants of Bradbury's future world will soon be without legs. Bradbury describes vividly the way these people hold their automobiles in a god-like reverence, describing their cars as "scarab-beetles" (105). The scarab-beetle was revered in ancient Egypt as a sacred symbol of the soul.

Complementing the people's lazy bodies are their lazy minds. State of the art viewing screens have reduced the population to couch potatoes. The ease in which they live their lives has turned them from vibrant, thinking people into dull, lifeless zombies. Bradbury describes them in front of their televisions as "[sitting] like the dead, the gray or multi-colored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them" (105). Bradbury's description of the "faintest glimmers of firefly light [appearing] in flickers behind their windows" (104) is a negative allusion to their brain activity. With everyone staring blank-faced at his television set all night, conversation has become a lost art. Leonard Mead hears nothing but "whisperings and murmurs" (104) coming from the open windows he passes. The human voice has become so scarce, Mead hesitates each time he hears one (104). Clearly Mead yearns to have any sort of conversation with a real person. Reading has also become a casualty...

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