Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
2 types of lists
There are two kinds of lists:
• closed lists
• open lists.
Difference between denotation connotation.
1 Identify or quote the simile you are dealing with.
2 Show how the literal and the figurative come together to create an effect.
3 Say what the effect is.
1 Identify or quote the metaphor you are dealing with.
2 Show how the literal and the figurative come together to create an effect.
3 Say what the effect is.
1 Identify or quote the personification you are dealing with.
2 Show how the literal and the figurative meanings merge to create an effect.
3 Say what the effect is.
1 You identify and quote the phrase.
2 You look at the difference between the literal and the figurative meanings.
3 You comment on its effect.
1 First words in paragraphs can act as signposts.
2 The topic sentences of the paragraphs will help you through the argument of the passage.
3 The links between paragraphs (which might be first words or topic sentences) are also helpful.
1 Punctuation and lists
1 Identify the list.
2 Say what effect that list has on the reader.
3 The effect will often be created by the cumulative nature, or the monotony, or the shape of the list.
2 Length of sentence
3 Use of climax or anticlimax
• repetition in sentence structure
• repetition of expressions or words
• repetition of sounds.
5 Word order
Monday, 22 March 2010
Friday, 19 March 2010
"The strongest element in the case against Lee Harvey Oswald was the Warren Commission's conclusion that his rifle had been found on the 6th floor of the Book Depository building. Yet Oswald never owned a 7.65 Mauser. When the FBI later reported that Oswald had purchased only a 6.5 Italian Manlicher-Carcano, the weapon at police headquarters in Dallas miraculously changed its (caliber), its make and its nationality. The Warren Commission concluded that a 6.5 Manlicher-Carcano, not a 7.65 German Mauser, had been discovered by the Dallas deputies." Mark Lane – assassination expert.
"Let me tell you what we did at Quantico," Hathcock said. "We reconstructed the whole thing: the angle, the range, the moving target, the time limit, the obstacles, everything. I don’t know how many times we tried it, but we couldn’t duplicate what the Warren Commission said Oswald did. Now if I can’t do it, how in the world could a guy who was a non-qual on the rifle range and later only qualified 'marksman' do it?" Former U.S. Marine sniper Craig Roberts
Kennedy's death certificate located the bullet at the third thoracic vertebra — which is too low to have exited his throat. Moreover, the bullet was traveling downward, since the shooter was by a sixth floor window. The autopsy cover sheet had a diagram of a body showing this same low placement at the third thoracic vertebra. The hole in back of Kennedy's shirt and jacket are also claimed to support a wound too low to be consistent with the Single Bullet Theory. Debra Conway, Assassination expert.
Friday, 12 March 2010
1. Write down all the words you do not know and look them up in the dictionary.
2. List all the words that the foetus/baby uses to describe itself. Choose three of these words and explain why they have been used. What type of image do they create?
3. ‘Each part of me was saying/A silent “wait for me/I will bring you love!” ‘ Why is this sentence described as ‘silent’?
4. In your own words explain what the foetus/baby means by saying “There was no Queens Counsel/To take my brief”?
5. In your own words explain the image (metaphor) “I hung in my pulsing cave”.
Why is this image effective?
6. “…dropped on the sterile floor/Of a foot operated plastic waste basket.”
Suggest two reasons why this image is effective.
What is your reaction to it?
7. What is your overall reaction to the effectiveness of the language used by the poet?
2. What is his/her point of view?
3. What is the poem about
4. There are clues in this poem about the parents.
What kind of people are they?
Give reasons for your answers.
5. It is not possible for the foetus/baby to write the poem. The poet has chosen a persona – he is writing as if he is the foetus/baby. Why do you think he has done this?
6. Choose four adjectives to describe the narrator’s attitude in the first half of the poem (until line 16). Give an example from the text to back each one up. Independent, forceful, dependent, hopeful, vibrant, frustrated, trusting, ambitious.
7. In the second half the tone changes. What is it like now?
8. Is the narrator meaning what he says when he writes about someone ‘whose good name/was graven on a brass plate’? How would you describe this tone? Complimentary, ironic, bitter, praising.
9. Look through the second half of the poem and write down any other examples of this type of tone.
Somewhere at sometime
They committed themselves to me
And so, I was!
Small, but I WAS!
Tiny in shape
Lusting to live
I hung in my pulsing cave.
Soon they knew of me
My mother – my father
I had no say in my being
I lived on trust
Tho’ I couldn’t think
Each part of me was saying
A silent, “Wait for me
I will bring you love!”
I was taken
Blind, naked defenceless
By the hand of one
Whose good name
Was graven on a brass plate
In Wimpole Street,
And dropped on the sterile floor
Of a foot operated plastic waste bucket.
There was no Queens Counsel
To take my brief.
The cot I might have warmed
Stood in Harrods shop window.
When my passing was told
My father smiled
No grief filled my empty space
My death was celebrated
With two tickets to see Danny La Rue
Who was pretending to be a woman
Like my mother was.
by Spike Milligan
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Short story exemplar "The Veldt"
Task: Choose a short story with a dramatic or shocking ending.
Show how the writer creates the effect and discuss to what extent it added to your appreciation of the text as a whole.
In your answer you must refer to at least two of: structure, theme, language, characterisation, or any other appropriate feature.
Ray Bradbury's futuristic short story "TheVeldt" is in my opinion a perfect example of a short story with a shocking ending. Set in a believable future it depicts a day in the life of the Hadleys; father George, mother Lydia and ten year old twins Peter and Wendy. "Their soundproofed Happy-Life Home", which cost $30,000, has a nursery, capable of creating real life scenes from the children's imagination.
However, rather than being a benefit to free the children from neuroses, the nursery is now firmly fixed on the African veldt and under the children's control. Here the lions rule, with "their terrible green-yellow eyes." Too late the parents realise their mistake in spoiling their children and they want to switch off the nursery. At this point the children shockingly prove they love the nursery more then their parents, whom they trick there to be killed then eaten by the lions.
In my opinion the structure of the story develops a strong sense of doom and foreboding from the very start. On his return from work, George is asked by Lydia to contact a psychologist to look at the nursery. Instinctively she realises it is "different now" and fears that Peter "with that LQ. of his" has programmed it to remain in the baking heat of the African veldt. Symbolically only adults seem physically uncomfortable in this landscape and our attention is drawn to George's "sweating face" here, which foreshadows how McClean, the psychologist, will also begin to perspire there at the end.
Bradbury cleverly builds up this sense of something not quite right by a variety of techniques. He focuses on the colour yellow for the sun and the colour of the lions . The hidden "odorophonics" in the nursery let us imagine the smell of the fresh meat coming from "the panting, dripping mouths of the lions". Vultures cast shadows on the landscape, both literally and metaphorically, a device which is used to great effect both at the start and the end of the story to create its circular structure. These are obviously associated with death, normally of animals, but at the shocking end of the story the deaths are those of George and Lydia.
Another interesting technique used by Bradbury is the recurring scream heard by the Hadleys and coming from the nursery. These screams are heard on two occasions, followed by the roar of the lions. The third time George says of the screams, "they sound familiar" but he can't think why. Only once both parents have been locked into the nursery by their children do the parents realise it was their own voices they had heard in advance of being attacked by the lions.
As well as the motif of these screams, Bradbury also introduces real, personal objects of the parents into the nursery. The first is an old wallet of George's, now chewed "with blood smears on both sides". He is shocked by this but more alarmed by
McClean finding "a bloody scarf' of Lydia's in the nursery. It is this discovery which prompts both men to throw "the switch that killed the nursery".
The language used here exemplifies Bradbury's fear for the future of mankind if machines take over. :His new word "automaticity" sums this up. In their ironically named "Happy-life Home" the Hadleys do nothing. Machines cook, clean, wash, clean their teeth, shine their shoes, take them up stairs and even rock them to sleep. When ketchup is not on the dining table "a small voice within the table" apologises and it appears. The results of such a life of ease and luxury are apparent. Lydia is bored and very importantly realises that "The house is wife and mother and house maid." She knows she cannot compete with an African veldt. George is smoking and drinking too much and needs more sedative each night to help him sleep.
Alarmingly only the children seem content in their own "Never Never Land". Symbolically Bradbury names them Peter and Wendy, main characters in J.M.Barry's "Peter Pan", who lived in a land free from adult control where they never grew up. On the surface these children seem innocent and beautiful with their "cheeks like peppermint candy" and "eyes like bright blue agate" but in reality they are spoiled and manipulative, the clear result of getting everything they want apart from a "rocket trip to New York".
Ironically and too late, George realises that "children are carpets, they should be stepped on occasionally" and decides to turn off the nursery. Both children are upset but Peter's choice of language coupled with his body language is most revealing. He avoids all eye contact with his father and ultimately threatens him not to turn off the nursery. He seems to be speaking to the nursery directly as to a person, as it has now become both mother and father to the children. Normal parent - child relationships have been replaced by mechanism and wish fulfilment.
Indeed it is this wish fulfilment that concludes the story. Peter shouts at his father 'Oh, I hate you! ... I wish you were dead!" and so it comes to pass.
At the end the children symbolically eat a "picnic lunch" in the "open glade" of the veldt. All appears innocent and childlike. Only the sweating reaction of the • psychologist when he comes in to look for George and Lydia reminds us of the harsh truth of this brutal murder. Wendy is already replacing her mother as she offers a cup of tea but overhead vultures are "dropping down a blazing sky."
In conclusion, I believe Bradbury has created both a dramatic and a shocking ending to the "The Veldt." Beyond this, he has allowed us into his worrying vision of how our obsession with automation and artificial intelligence may end.
Writing a well-crafted short story is not easy. To be a good short story writer, the writer must know how to use many literary devices. Because the finished piece will not be very long, each word must be carefully chosen to deliver the maximum impact. Edgar Allen Poe, master of the short story, believed that a good short story must provide a "single effect." In other words, the action of a short story should be concentrated to deliver one strong emotional jolt, especially if that story is dealing with horror, suspense, or terror. Ray Bradbury openly acknowledges that he as a young writer was influenced by Poe, and he always strives to create the single, concentrated effect suggested by Poe. Bradbury masterfully uses similes, metaphors, dialogue, point of view, tone, and many other literary devices to draw the reader in and to heighten the emotional experience. In his story "The Veldt," for instance, there are many fine examples of how Bradbury uses these literary devices to create a story that is engaging, clever, and shocking.
Bradbury always has a very strong start to his stories, and this is true of "The Veldt" as well. The story opens with the following bit of dialogue:
George, I wish you'd look at the nursery.
What's wrong with it?
I don't know.
I just want you to look at it, is all, or call a psychologist in to look at it.
From these five brief lines the reader learns several things. First, he/she learns that there is a problem with the nursery and that one of the characters is concerned enough about it to ask for a second opinion. Also, through the somewhat unusual request for a psychologist, the reader gets the idea that the problem with the nursery is somehow connected with the human mind, thus raising the possibility that the story is taking place on another planet or during another time far in the future. The opening definitely lets the reader know that something strange is going on here. By dropping bits of provocative information right at the beginning, Bradbury piques the reader's interest and propels the reader into the story. This opening exchange also clues the reader in to what will become the central problem in the story — the nursery. From these few lines of dialogue, one immediately knows that the nursery is going to somehow be important, and now that Bradbury has accomplished this set-up, he can slowly reveal the strange world of the story bit by bit.
Bradbury often builds his themes around things that should be familiar but that are slightly altered in some way. He uses this idea in "The Veldt." Many people have an idea of what a nursery is, and they usually picture it as a safe, happy place in which children can play and interact with their caregivers. In this story, however, Bradbury has injected a twist. He has kept the idea of the nursery being a place for play and interaction, but he has replaced the typical caregivers — parents or a nanny — with an inanimate, unfeeling machine. This change becomes the catalyst for all of the disastrous events that take place in "The Veldt." Because the children have shifted their emotional attachments from their parents to the mechanistic nursery, it becomes both caregiver and an instrument of destruction. The nursery remains a safe, happy place for the children, but it becomes something entirely different for the parents. It becomes a mechanized beast. This technique of taking something very familiar and altering it in some way is one that is used by Bradbury consistently. In the volume Voices for the Future, Willis E. McNelly comments upon how Bradbury's use of this technique provides not only an interesting story, but adds an element of social commentary as well.
He pivots upon an individual, a specific object, or particular act, and then shows it from a different perspective or a new viewpoint. The result can become a striking insight into the ordinary, sometimes an ironic comment on our limited vision.
The atmosphere or ambience in a short story helps to build a reader's expectations and to set him or her up for the "single effect" that Poe lists as a short story's desired result. Two literary devices that Bradbury employs to help create a strong atmosphere in his stories, and thus to achieve his desired effect, are similes and metaphors. In his essay "When I was in Kneepants: Ray Bradbury," Damon Knight calls these similes and metaphors Bradbury's "trademarks," and he remarks that the use of these devices is one of the primary features that sets Bradbury apart from other, more traditional science fiction writers. Throughout "The Veldt" there are excellent examples of how Bradbury uses similes and metaphors to help create the ambience in the story. For example, when George is eating dinner and thinking about his recent experience in the nursery, Bradbury uses the phrases, "That sun. He could feel it on his neck, still, like a hot paw." This simile serves two purposes. Not only does it heighten the description of George's sensation by making the sun's heat seem much more tangible, it also foreshadows the ending of the story when George and Lydia are attacked by lions. Bradbury also uses a metaphor effectively near the end of the piece when he has George ask, "Lord, how did we ever get in this house? What prompted us to buy a nightmare?" By using the metaphor of house as nightmare, Bradbury not only conveys the fact that George has become very concerned but also that he still believes everything will turn out all right. After all, a nightmare is only an illusion. Or, at least that's what George believes.
While reading "The Veldt," one may notice that there are no very long passages describing what the characters are thinking. Bradbury sometimes provides brief phrases to let the reader know what is going on in a character's mind, but never more than a few carefully chosen words. This is typical of a well-written short story. Since there is no time for extended descriptions or long discussions, the author's choice of words must convey as much information as possible quickly and succinctly. As Robin Anne Reid comments in her Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion, in short stories "more character development occurs through dialogue and description of actions than through in-depth descriptions of characters' thoughts and emotions." Bradbury is a master at this technique. He is always economizing and making his descriptive passages and dialogue serve a dual purpose. One fine example of this occurs in the following exchange between George and his son, Peter:
Will you shut off the house sometime soon?
We're considering it.
I don't think you'd better consider it any more, Father.
I won't have any threats from my son!
"Very well." And Peter strolled off to the nursery.
Here, the reader should notice that, rather than whining or crying when his father says the house might be shut off, Peter very calmly says, "I don't think you'd better consider it any more, Father." This well-spoken sentence, coming from a little boy who is upset, clues the reader into the fact that Peter is not your average ten-year-old. The measured, almost overly-subdued tone also conveys a coldness about the child. The reader gets the idea that Peter is a very calculating boy who is well in control of his own emotions. Even the fact that Peter replies with the phrase, "Very well," rather than saying "okay" provides a clue that this young boy is different than other boys of his age. The word choices convey a subtle creepiness about the boy. Another instance of effective dialogue occurs in the following exchange between George and Lydia:
Those screams — they sound familiar.
This is a wonderful instance of foreshadowing, as well as a subtle pun. The phrase, "awfully familiar" usually means extremely familiar. By breaking it up and inserting it into the dialogue in the manner above, however, Bradbury subtly evokes another meaning. Now the screams are not only awfully familiar, but they are also familiar as well as awful.
Bradbury is indeed a skilled writer, who brings together many important literary elements in "The Veldt." This ability to manipulate and combine words for maximum effect is what has set Bradbury apart from many other short story writers. It is what has cemented Bradbury's reputation as an important and influential American writer. It is this skill that has also sustained Bradbury's popularity throughout his long and varied career. In her essay, "Ray Bradbury and the Gothic Tradition," Hazel Pierce explains the ultimate appeal that Bradbury has had for fans throughout the years. She notes that, while readers admire his imagination and creativity, they also appreciate his artistry. "Devoted readers of Bradbury have long recognized him as a poet in the fullest sense of the word — a maker and doer with words." Critics and fans alike recognize that Bradbury is a gifted artist who is constantly striving to write the very best story he can. His short stories continue to provide that "single effect" for readers, and they also stand as a fine example for other writers of what can be accomplished if you know how to use the tools correctly. As Damon Knight notes in the essay collection titled Ray Bradbury, "He is a superb craftsman, a man who has a great gift and has spent fifteen years laboriously and with love teaching himself to use it."
Source: Beth Kattelman, Critical Essay on "The Veldt," in Short Stories for Students, Gale, 2005.
Ray Bradbury has a point to make in his short story "The Veldt." It is a rather simple and obvious point-Bradbury does not like machines. But the more interesting part of this story is not his dislike of a mechanical world but rather it is Bradbury's explanation of why he does not look upon a world run by machines as some kind of utopia in which human beings are free to pursue things other than the mundane chores of every day living. Quite contrary to the notion of a utopia, in Bradbury's view, machines tum the world upside down, ruining human relationships and destroying the minds of children. Instead of leaving time for people to ponder the higher thoughts of spirituality and philosophy, a world run by machines leaves people open to boredom and thoughts riddled with fear, anger, and vengeance. And it is these results that make Bradbury very unhappy.
Bradbury's husband and wife protagonists, George and Lydia Hadley, live in what Bradbury calls a Happylife Home, a place any person in their right mind would drool over, or at least that is what the Hadleys thought when they plunked down the cash to convert their normal habitat into one they thought would solve all their problems. The house was energy efficient, turning lights off and on when people entered or left a room. The house was soothing, rocking them and their children to sleep at night. The house was nurturing, fixing their meals, dressing them, and keeping their environment as clean as if they had a twenty-four-hour maid. Who could ask for more from a house?
Well, as some people believe, there is no such thing as utopia. And this concept partially forms the foundation of Bradbury's story. In the least, Bradbury contends that an existence heavily dependent on machines will cause as much strife as it eases. It might be fun to imagine fantastic realities but attempting to put them into play in a material world causes unforeseen hardships or maybe even fatal catastrophes. Something always seems to go wrong.
In the case of Bradbury's creation, a lot of things go wrong, and the Hadleys' world is turned on its head. Something is wrong, they suspect, but they do not quite know what it is. What they do know is the heart of this unnamed flaw is located somewhere in the nursery.
The Hadleys are well intended parents who do not let money stand in the way of their children's happiness. They have installed something that Bradbury has imagined well before its time, a personal virtual reality room, which in tum would provide them with well-balanced, happy little minds. But the Hadley children's minds, as it turns out, are only happy at their parents' expense, and the debt involves a lot more than their parents' money. It takes a while for the Hadleys to realize that something is amiss in the nursery. When George steps into the room one day he suddenly is overwhelmed by the heat. And the lions! They seem so real. Is it possible that the virtual reality machine has converted itself, has moved up a notch closer to being less virtual and more real? And what has happened to George, once ruler and lord of his household? He seems incapable of doing anything to change the course of the foreshadowed disaster that looms in the nursery. Even though he tries to avert a catastrophe and recapture the power that once was his, his attempts come up short. He locks the room and threatens to shut the machine off, but the children overthrow his rule. George is a king dethroned in his own castle.
The children, the narrator informs the reader, have taken over the parental role, whether or not George and Lydia want to face this. They throw tantrums when George locks them out of the nursery. And George, the misguided parent that he is, wants his children to be happy. After all, this is the reason he bought the Happylife Home in the first place. So the tantrums work. George does not want to see his children cry. Tantrums make no one happy. George backs down yet another degree as the children mastermind a plot to ensure total authority over their parents.
Next, in steps fear. Lydia is afraid of the nursery. Those virtual reality lions look like they are ready to pounce on George and Lydia. But then Lydia thinks this thought out again. Maybe she is just growing paranoid. After all, she has so much time to think now that she has less to do around the house. As a matter of fact, it is not that she has less to do, rather she has nothing to do at all. And that is another problem. The Happylife Home has left her with too much leisure. The mechanisms of her Happylife Home were supposed to give Lydia time to relax and have fun. So why does George examine his wife and tell her she looks tired? And why does Lydia say that maybe they need a vacation from this perfect little home? What has happened to their initial concept that this house will alleviate all their burdens?
This house that does everything for them is obviously making their life worse. Surely the Happylife Home keeps their house clean, feeds and cares for them in every way a full range of maids and butlers would, but the Happylife Home has also robbed George and Lydia of something very precious to them-their roles. It has taken away Lydia's need to be a wife, mother, and nursemaid. This is what her dream was. With the Happylife Home having rid Lydia of these chores, in Lydia's mind, she has no other reason to exist. The house has also corrupted George's role as head of household and makes George feel superfluous. This makes George very nervous. He smokes and drinks more than he should and is confused about how to handle his children. Whereas he thought the house would make his son and daughter happy and therefore grateful, they have instead turned into vile and spoiled children. This so-called utopian invention is giving them the opposite of what they want.
On top of this, everyone in the Hadley household appears to be stuck in a rut. Lydia wants the family to run away from the home, but the children will not hear of it. George wants to change the course of their lives, but as soon as the children complain, he reverses his intent. The children, too, seem to be stuck. Or at least, their parents think so. George and Lydia have never known their children to become so involved in one nursery theme for such a long time. Why are they so interested in Africa? And worse yet, why are they so fascinated with death?
In an act of desperation, the parents consult David McClean, the psychologist who understands the virtual reality machine and uses it to evaluate the health of children's minds. The mechanisms are suppose to clean (as in David's last name) all the bad parts of a child's psyche by allowing them to play out their neuroses.
But when David walks into the nursery, he immediately senses that something is not right. The room has evolved into something unintended by the psychologists. Instead of alleviating negativity, it has drawn the Hadley children toward destructive thoughts. It has encouraged them to run amuck in childhood alienation. As the Hadleys will soon find out, the children's anger has actually developed more fully with the help of the virtual reality room, and the Hadley kids have become preoccupied with getting rid of their parents. The good doctor, although he suggests that George and Lydia immediately get rid of the mechanisms in the children's nursery, points his finger of blame not at the virtual reality diagnostic tool but rather at the parents. They have spoiled their children, he tells them, more than most parents would do. And in many ways, as the Hadleys attempt to rein their children in, they are now disappointing them. The children, David tells them, have replaced their parents with their room. The children believe that their parents are disposable. They have everything they need. As a matter of fact, they could quite easily function much better without mom and dad, or so they think.
Turn it all off, the doctor suggests. And George follows his orders. It is not too late, David says, to save the children. But everyone must go through retraining. It appears that George is finally learning a very important lesson. But Lydia is lagging behind him. The children throw tantrums again, and Lydia suggests that they give the children one more trip to the nursery. George gives in. Anything to keep the children happy. Of course, this is just what the children want. They set the trap, and the parents walk right into it and disappear.
But the story does not end here. The doctor returns to make a visit. He engages the children in their room. They seem content, but not everything looks well. That sun, which represents the children's anger, is still visible and very hot. And now it is the psychologist's turn to sweat. In addition, George and Lydia are nowhere to be found. But there is even more going on, things that Bradbury just leaves to the reader's imagination. Although the children believe that things have once more gone topsy-turvy in their favour as they relish what they imagine to be a new-found freedom, readers might question just how free they are in allowing the nursery to replace their parents. The children sit there in their room in apparent calm, acting as adults as they entertain the doctor and offer him some tea. But what is really to become of them? How long can they pull off this charade? Just how much of a benefactor is this Happylife Home? Will it provide the children with food forever? What is the source of its energy? And more importantly, who will pay the bills? The children may be smart, but it is easy to conclude that they have not thought out all the consequences of their actions. They are, after all, just children. So by the end of Bradbury's story, the factual reality sets in. Despite all the promises of the mechanical world, Bradbury seems to be saying, machines will never fully replace humans. And in the process of humans making machines to improve the world, people should, unlike the Hadleys, think through their choices and the consequences of those choices.
Source: Joyce Hart, Critical Essay on "The Veldt," in Short Stories for Students, Gale, 2005.
Bradbury followed this success with the publication of The Illustrated Man, another book that showcased his talent for writing in the short story format. The Illustrated Man was popular with critics and casual readers alike and has continued to be one of Bradbury's most influential works. As Robin Anne Reid notes in her book Ray Bradbury: A Critical Companion, The Illustrated Man "is widely considered one of Bradbury's strongest works." "The Veldt" has been a particularly popular story from the collection as evidenced by the fact that it was chosen for inclusion in the 1969 feature film and the stage play that Bradbury himself adapted from the book.
Though Bradbury is usually known as a science fiction writer, this label has been in dispute throughout his entire career. For purists, the definition of a science fiction story is one that uses present scientific knowledge to create events that are plausible. Plausibility is the key here, and it is this element that has caused disagreement about how to classify Bradbury's work. Because Bradbury sometimes creates implausible situations, some critics argue that he is a fantasy writer. As Damon Knight notes in his essay, "The purists are right in saying he does not write science fiction, and never has." Donald A. Wollheim also comments in The Universe Makers that "Ray Bradbury is not really a science-fiction writer at all."
Labels notwithstanding, over the years Bradbury's reputation has continued to grow, and he has been recognized as one of the most important American writers of the past fifty years. In his introduction to a collection of critical essays on Bradbury, Harold Bloom calls him, "one of the masters of science fiction and fantasy," and Wollheim praises him as "a mainstream fantasist of great brilliance." The fact that The Illustrated Man remained in print for over fifty years since it was first published in 1951 is evidence that the themes contained in these stories continued to hold a fascination for readers through the decades. It is also a testament to Bradbury's talent. The stories contained in The Illustrated Man have found an audience for over five decades, and they continue to delight a new generation of readers in the early 2000s.
Nuclear Proliferation and the Cold War
World War II ended in 1945 when Germany and Japan surrendered to the Allied forces but, unfortunately, the war's end set the stage for a major struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. These countries had very different goals for the post-World War II world. The United States supported free market capitalism while the Soviet Union believed in a communist society in which property and resources are owned by the nation as a whole, and production is controlled by the national government. Each country's people thought that their own political and economic system was the best, and they were very suspicious of outsiders. The Soviet Union was particularly wonied because the United States had used nuclear bombs during the war. The Soviets were also concerned about the United States being the only superpower to have nuclear capabilities, so they quickly began to develop their own nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb in 1949, long before the United States expected the Soviets to have the capability of creating such a device. The United States also learned that the Soviets had stolen state secrets in order to accelerate their nuclear weapons program. A state of deep paranoia developed in both countries and this feeling of competition and threat began what came to be known as the cold war. The war gained this name because even though there was a struggle between the two superpowers, their armies never fired a shot at each other. The Cold War lasted for more than forty years.
The Red Scare
During the cold war, many Americans were afraid that the Communists were infiltrating the country, and they began to try and seek out and punish Communist sympathizers. This fear of Communism became known as the "Red Scare" and it pervaded all areas of American life. In 1947 the United States government formed the House Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC) to investigate whether Communists had infiltrated Hollywood. A series of hearings were led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in which he questioned artists who were suspected of being Communist sympathizers. Many careers were ruined during these hearings. The United States also became concerned that the government itself had been infiltrated. In 1950, Alger Hiss, a State Department employee, was accused of selling state secrets to the Soviets. He was tried and convicted of lying to Congress.
The Korean War
One country in which the Cold War played out very specifically was Korea. After World War II ended, the Soviets controlled the northern part of the country, while the United States controlled the south. On June 24, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. President Harry Truman immediately ordered American troops to aid South Korea. Soon after that, the Chinese sent troops to help North Korea. The two pushed each other back and forth until they finally ended with a face-off at the 38th parallel of latitude, where the war had originally begun. An uneasy truce was in place for the next eighteen months. In July, 1953, the two sides came to an agreement that they would consider the whole thing a draw.
The Move to the Suburbs
After World War II, suburban housing developments began to spread across the United States. Many families now could afford an automobile, which allowed them to live further from the city. People could now own a home in a quiet suburban community and commute to work downtown.
Pulps were popular magazines that were printed on cheap gray wood pulp paper. They were inexpensive and were extremely popular among young readers. Each pulp fiction magazine grouped stories by genre. There were western pulps, sports pulps, romance pulps, horror pulps and science fiction pulps, among others. They were usually very sensationalistic and had titles such as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. The proliferation of the pulp fiction magazines throughout the 1940s gave many writers their first chance to publish their work. Numerous writers began their careers by selling stories to these publications.
Television became an important force in American life during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Through the medium of television, viewers could see sights from around the world that they were never able to see before. In 1951 the program See It Now broadcast simultaneous live images of the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges. At this time, approximately one-fourth of American households owned a television set. Television quickly became a major force in popular culture across the country. In 1951 I Love Lucy debuted and established Lucille Ball as a national television star.
Ambience is the emotional tone that pervades a work of fiction. In "The Veldt" Bradbury sets up a tense, oppressive ambience in the story through his use of description and dialogue. He conveys the hot, oppressiveness of the African veldt through specific descriptive passages such as "The hot straw smell of lion grass, the cool green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty smell of animals, the smell of dust like a red paprika in the hot air." These descriptive passages create a sensory atmosphere and add to the sense of dread that pervades the story. The ambience lets the reader know that this is not a cheerful, happy comedy and that there is a good possibility that something terrible might happen.
Foreshadowing is a technique in which a writer drops hints about what is to happen later in a story. Bradbury uses this technique to hint at the fate of George and Lydia Hadley. While the two are lying in bed, they hear screams coming from the nursery, and Lydia comments, "Those screams-they sound familiar." Later, the reader realizes that the screams sound familiar to Lydia because they are actually her screams and those of her husband.
Science fiction deals with the impact of imagined science upon society or individuals. Science fiction stories are often set in the future, but they do not have to be. One of the generally accepted rules of science fiction is that the events which occur in a science fiction story must be plausible based upon current scientific understanding. Bradbury follows these principles in "The Veldt." At the time the story was written, television was becoming a major force in American family life. Bradbury postulated what might happen if the items on these screens could eventually cross over from the world of simulated reality to the world of reality.
A simile is a comparison of two objects using the term "like" or "as." Bradbury uses similes throughout "The Veldt" to heighten his descriptive passages. When Wendy and Peter return home Bradbury describes them as having "cheeks like peppermint candy, eyes like bright blue agate marbles." The similes here serve to emphasize the fact that these are two cute, energetic children who might be found in any typical middle-American family. Bradbury also uses similes to heighten the tension of the short story. For example, after George Hadley turns off the house, he writes, "It felt like a mechanical cemetery." This description provides a clear mental image for the reader and also underscores the themes of technology and death.
The technique of personification involves attributing human characteristics to things that are not human. Bradbury uses this technique to great effect throughout "The Veldt." He personifies the nursery and the house itself by attributing emotions to these inanimate objects, '''I don't imagine the room will like being turned off,' said the father. 'Nothing likes to die-even a room. I wonder if it hates me for wanting to switch it off?'" By turning the house into a living, breathing entity through personification, Bradbury heightens the tension and the threat. Now the parents are not only fighting their children, they are also pitted against a technological monster that is working to destroy them.
Point of View
The story is told from a third-person point of view which means the narrator does not directly take part in the story but reports the events to the reader. The narrator is closely aligned with the character of George Hadley, however. He follows George's movements throughout the house and does not usually break away to report on scenes in which George is not involved. The story only breaks this pattern at the end, when George and Lydia are already dead and the narrator continues to report on the scene between Wendy, Peter and David McClean.
Abandonment occurs on two levels in Bradbury's story. First, the children are figuratively abandoned by their parents when they are left in the care of a technological baby sitter. As the character of David McClean tells George, "You've let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children's affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents." This accidental abdication of parental responsibility sets the children up to become emotionally attached to the nursery. Then, when George threatens to turn off the nursery, the children are terrified because now they are going to be abandoned by their new, surrogate parent, the nursery.
Alienation occurs when one feels cut off or estranged from what used to be comfortable and familiar. A sense of isolation and uneasiness takes over. In "The Veldt," this theme is embodied in the character of Lydia. She is the first to recognize that there is something unfamiliar happening in the house and urges George to take a look at the nursery because, it "is different now than it was." Lydia clearly recognizes her own feelings of alienation when she admits very early in the story, "I feel like I don't belong here. "
George Hadley embodies the theme of consumerism because he believes in providing the best that money can buy for his family. George believes that he can show his family love by buying them things. Allowing material possessions to stand in for direct human interaction and expressions of love, however, is what ultimately sets George up as the enemy to his children. The theme is succinctly summed up near the end of the story when George asks Lydia, "What prompted us to buy a nightmare?" and she replies, "Pride, money, foolishness."
A dystopia is a place in which people lead fearful, dehumanized lives. It is the opposite of a utopia. Dystopias often serve as warnings of potential dangers that can be brought on through the misuse of technology or power. In "The Veldt," Bradbury turns the Hadley's Happy-life Home into a dystopia that gradually dehumanizes the children and destroys the parents. The dangers are revealed slowly through the story as George begins to realize that the wonderful home that he has provided for his family might not be so wonderful at all. His dream home actually turns into a nightmare.
Illusion versus Reality
The ability to distinguish illusion from reality and the co-mingling of the two is a key theme in "The Veldt." George ultimately agrees to tum on the nursery one more time, thus putting himself and his wife in jeopardy, because he believes that there is a definite distinction between illusion and reality. Something that is an illusion can never become truly "real." This is why George believes that the lions pose no real threat. They are only part of a machine that creates wonderful illusions, "Walls, Lydia, remember; crystal walls, that's all they are. Oh, they look real, I must admit-Africa in your parlor-but it's all dimensional superactionary, supersensitive color film and mental tape film behind glass screens." What George fails to understand is, in the world of this short story, illusion and reality are transposable. One can become the other at any moment.
Man versus Machine
One of the major conflicts in Bradbury's story is that of man versus machine. The story is built around the struggle to control and direct the destructive power of the nursery's technology. Whoever controls the machine will have the ultimate power. In this story man is destroyed by the machines in two ways: not only are George and Lydia murdered by the nursery's technology, but the children's humanity is also destroyed. By identifying so closely with the nursery, the children have become less than human. They feel no guilt, remorse or regret when their parents die, and it is clear that they have become as cold and emotionless as the machinery that controls the nursery.
"The Veldt" can be read as the ultimate children's revenge story. Children often feel powerless against adults and create elaborate fantasies in which they have the power to conquer any adult who refuses to give them what they want. George triggers these fantasies in Peter and Wendy when he forbids them to take the rocket to New York. The children are used to getting their own way, and they become very angry when they cannot have what they want. Thus the cycle of revenge is set in motion.
Telepathy plays an important role in "The Veldt" as it provides the medium through which the weapons are deployed. The room manifests thought patterns on its walls, thus creating the possibility for evil thoughts to conjure up evil things. The children are able to use their telepathy to direct their destructive powers into the nursery images, thus creating a deadly setting for their parents. In the scientifically advanced world of this short story, thoughts have now become weapons, and children can kill their parents just by wishing them dead.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Referring in detail to the opening, discuss to what extent it provides a successful introduction to the text as a whole.
Title, author, date
Gist of story – dehmanised family and effect
Essay intention = Effect of opening on whole story
Problem with technology – explain the nursery
Increased neuroses of all
Killed by lions
5 lines of dialogue that highlight some of the main concerns
Line one = “I wish you’d take a look at the nursery”
Problem with a scene that is usually idyllic – sets up the fall of idealized visions that pervade the story.
Nursery – close connection with children – likely problems with children.
“What’s wrong with it?” “I don’t know.” “Well, then.”
George is satisfied that nothing is wrong
Not interested in difficult or challenging scenarios
Develops later in conflict with his children
Cannot bring himself to admonish his spoiled progeny
Ultimately, this causes his death
“…or call a psychologist.”
Links mechanical problems to problems in thought/ psychology.
Indicates that the story is set in a future or alternative world where these two are linked.
Later developed by the role of the children – able to communicate with tech.
Shows that Lydia feels there is a problem in thought.
Reveals her own neuroses
Irony – the nursery was supposed to quell neuroses
Economy of writing – a lot revealed in five lines
These form the main themes he develops
A dramatic, thought-provoking start
Bradbury’s use of simile/ metaphor
Link the opening to his ideas concerning conflict between man and machine
The tension is created at the start and does not let up until the foreshadowed events come to fruition
Explain that the opening is key to establishing themes, tones, characters, hooks and plot.
It quickly, succinctly, puts the reader in the centre of the story.
Makes the story effective in delivering its larger messages about man/ machine and parents/ children.
Below are a variety of quotations from some important figures involved in the circumstances around JFK's assassination:
"We took care of Kennedy . . . The hit in Dallas was just like any other operation we’d worked on in the past."—Sam Giancana to his brother
"The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy." —Final Report, House Select Committee of Assassinations (HSCA), 1979
"We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle. No one has been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand." —Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry, quoted by United Press International, November 5, 1969
"He was quite a mysterious fellow, and he did have a connection . . . The extent of the influence of those connections on him I think history will deal with more than we're able to now." —President Lyndon Baines Johnson on Lee Harvey Oswald
"We have not been told the truth about Oswald." —Hale Boggs, Warren Commission member
"I now fully realize that only the powers of the Presidency will reveal the secrets of my brother's death." —Robert Kennedy, June 3, 1968, two days before he was assassinated
". . . [I]t is the most bizarre conspiracy in the history of the world. It'll come out at a future date." —Jack Ruby
". . . we might have ridden into an ambush." —JFK aide David Powers
"I didn't shoot anybody, no sir . . . I'm just a patsy." —Lee Harvey Oswald
“I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations.....There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position, and I feel that we need to correct it." - Harry Truman – Former President of the United States
"He looked far ahead and he wanted to change a great deal. Perhaps it is this that is the key to the mystery of the death of President John F. Kennedy." – Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union
“...the most curious discovery of all took place when they rolled me off the stretcher and onto the examining table. A metal object fell to the floor, with a click no louder than a wedding band. The nurse picked it up and slipped it into her pocket. It was the bullet from my body.” – Governor John Connally.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Show how the content and the poetic techniques used increase your understanding of the issue.
DUE MARCH 11th.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.
Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
JFK’s legacy is in his words of inspiration, he believed that war could destroy us all, saying, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”