Ray Douglas Bradbury


Ray Douglas Bradbury Essay, Research Paper

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois on August

22,1920. He was the third born son of Leonard Spauldling Bradbury and

Esther Marie Moberg Bradbury. In the fall of 1926 the Bradbury family

moved from their home in Waukegan to Tucson, Arizona. However, their

stay there only lasted until May of 1927 when they moved back to their

original habitation. Bradbury began writing his own literature on butcher

paper when he was 11 years old. Ray and his family moved again moved to

Tucson, Arizona and back to Waukegan, Illinois again in 1932. This rapid

movement was initiated when Leonard Bradbury was laid off from his job

installing telephone lines, only to be rehired later in the year. In 1934 the

Bradbury family moved yet again, but this time to Los Angeles, California.

Ray attended high school in Los Angeles. He graduated in 1938,

finishing his formal school career. Bradbury decided that in order to further

his education, he would spend his days at his typewriter and his nights at the

library, reading. Since he needed a way to make some money to get by, Ray

took a job selling newspapers on Los Angeles street corners. His

first published story was ?Hollerbocher?s Dilemma,? which was printed in

an amateur fan magazine in 1938. In 1939, Ray published four issues of

Futuria Fantasia, his own fan magazine, in which he contributed most of the

published material. Bradbury?s first paying gig, was ?Pendulum,? which was

published in Super Science Stories in 1941. Finally in 1942 he discovered

his distinctive style of writing after writing ?The Lake.? By 1943 he had

given up selling newspapers, and began a full-time job as a free lance write

for many periodicals. In 1945 the magazine Best American Short Stories,

selected Bradbury?s short story ?The Big Black and White Game,? to appear

in an issue of the magazine. Bradbury?s most significant published works

up until the present include: Dark Carnival in 1947, The Martian Chronicles

in 1950, Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, and many short stories, screenplays, essays

and poems which are too numerous to name.

Ray Bradbury?s writing has been critically acclaimed and heralded as

some of the most influential media in the Science-Fiction genre. So far is his

lifetime Ray has received the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin

Franklin award in 1954, the Aviation-Space Writer?s Association Award for

best article in an American Magazine in 1967, the World Fantasy Award for

lifetime achievement, and the Grand Master Award from the Science-Fiction

Writers of America. Also his animated film about the history of flight,

Icarus Montgolfier Wright, was nominated for an Oscar, and his teleplay of

the Halloween Tree won an emmy. Presently, Ray Bradbury resides in San

Diego, California, where he still writes and gives lectures.

The Martian Chronicles

The book of Bradbury?s creation that I read was the Martian

Chronicles. Initially, I was intrigued by Ray Bradbury?s implementation of

elaborately descriptive settings. Each chronicle takes place during a different

month and year, arranged in chronological order, from January 1999 to

October 2026. Since the story spans over a long period of time, there are

several locations in which the events occur. The major settings of the story

include: Ohio, a small town next to the rocket launch pad, a large desert on

Mars, with canals, that is a harbor to the ?dead cities,? a town on Mars

which is the home of Yll and Ylla , the Martian landing site next to one of

the canals, a Martian insane asylum, a town, that seems almost dreamlike in

a sense, because it is the memories of the flight crew projected onto the

Martian landscape, a luggage shop, and a city surrounded by rural farm area,

that has only one house left standing. These settings are used as a device to

move the novel along from each individual story to the next. I think that this

was a very interesting concept, because there are no main characters in the


However, there are main characters within each chronicle. Ylla is the

first Martian introduced in the book; she is friendly, kind, and has an

outgoing personality. James Stupple indicated in his book The Past, The

Future, and Ray Bradbury that Ylla seems to lack love for her husband Yll. I

agree with his opinion since, she has dreams of Captain York constantly.

This triggers Yll to become jealous and destroy the Earth rocket.

Coincidentally, similar things happen in all Societies on different levels. For

Example: In America, adultery is constantly in the news. Our own President

is a repeat offender. What would possess some one to disobey the norms and

values upon which our society is based, in such a disgusting and appalling

way? Personally, I think that the idea of the chaos theory plays a role here,

hence nothing can be perfect and all people feel the urge to self-destruct

through misdemeanor. It seems almost that Bradbury drew Ylla?s internal

conflict from that theory. Captain Black was one of the leaders of the Earth

crew. He was old, experienced, and had many years of wisdom to recall

upon when needed. Captain Black has the uncanny ability to rethink

problems over and over again until he finds the answer. I see myself to be

similar to him in that sense. I am not able to let predicaments be, I must

take as much time as needed to find a resolution to the problem at hand.

Edward Black is the Martian who is responsible for keeping Captain

Black deceived about the ?dream town.? Edward is extremely intelligent and

able to read minds. He incorporated the Captain?s memories into a town on

the Martian landscape. I believe that the preceding example supports the

commentary made by Kingsley Amis, in his book New Maps of Hell. Amis

stated that one of the prevalent themes in Bradbury?s works, was that

?Though the past, or stasis, or both is enticing, it may be deadly as well.?

Ray Bradbury supported the idea of the melting pot theory, in which

everyone who is new to a society must give up his or her past, and blend into

the culture as well as except the values and norms of the dominant group in

the society. Evidently, the melting pot theory has existed since our ancestors

migrated here from Europe. They came here in yield of promise and

opportunity, but found that Nativism and racial prejudice would control their

lives. They would be forced to conform to American culture, or they would

never be able to succeed in their endeavors. Hence, in order to seize a

meaningful future, you must reject the past.

Tomas Gomez is a human being, that adds an interesting twist to the

story. He in contrast to the other human characters in the literature is open-

minded to the Martian culture. He does not pass judgment on the different

opinions, different vehicles, and appearance of the Martians. Tomas seems

to be the definitive ray of hope in the piece. He is used as a symbolic

representation of racial equality between Martians and humans. Mr. Teece,

on the other hand, is the exact opposite of Gomez. Teece always needs to

feel superior to everyone around him. He is a horrible husband to his wife,

and holds a magnitude of prejudices against the white men. In fact at nights

he and his friends, shoot and sometimes maul white men to their bloody

deaths. If Tomas Gomez were North, then Mr. Teece would be the

equivalent of South. Teece is symbolic of the racial hate groups that exist in

our Society. The groups are based on a strong belief that their ways of life

are more important than that of any other group. Therefore, a parallel can be

drawn between Teece and racial hate groups.

Stendahl represents the typical 1st amendment activist. He is

passionate about his ideas of free thinking. Stendahl uses his creativity, and

imagination to express his ideas to everyone in anyway possible. The

summation of his abilities lie in the walls of the House of Usher, a temple of

horror which he created, in homage to the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, to

express his ideas. Hathaway much like Stendahl is extremely

intelligent, and self reliant. Hathaway replaced his family with robots that

were incapable of sadness. All though he could be considered insane,

Hathaway was in touch with reality.

The two recurrent conflicts in The Martian Chronicles are social

and ideological. From the ideological standpoint, a conflict arose about the

conformity of Mars to suit the Earth people. Splender, one of the Martian

leaders, believes that Mars should be kept as it is, and not changed to

accommodate the people from Earth. He refused to compromise, and

decided to kill any human that he could find. The captain of the Martians

believed in Splender?s views after meeting with him, but knew that it was

his duty as captain to compromise with the Earthlings. The social conflict

was between Stendahl, and the censors. Stendahl believed in free thinking

and fantasy books. He rebelled against the censors by building the House of

Usher. Garrett, the head of the censors, sent a robot to kill Stendahl.

However, Stendahl killed the robot, and sent back one that looked like

himself. Thus, luring Garrett into a death trap.

Amidst the elaborate settings, symbolic characters, and crucial

conflicts, Bradbury established two dominant themes. The first of the

themes is that when the real and unreal conjoin, its result will be disaster.

Throughout the book when the Earth crew members were deceived by

hallucinations, they inevitably died. For example, when Edward Black

created the ?dream town? from the memories of the crew, they were trapped,

and left to die. The second theme is that, if technology is misused or

overused, then it will destroy nature. This is exemplified in the destruction

of Earth. Man felt a need to build and create new things just because,

something could be built. The need to do so ultimately destroyed the earth.

In conclusion, Ray Bradbury?s the Martian Chronicles, contains

some of the most important Sociological issues in America today. He deals

with the issues of freedom of speech, racism, prejudice and conformity.

All though there are not any major characters that consistently appear

throughout the story, the major characters within each chronicles are used

symbolically to support his themes. Finally, Ray Bradbury uses descriptive

settings to tie all of the chronicles together.


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