Writing for Engineers
“The Veldt,” by Ray Bradbury, is a science-fiction story about a family of four living sometime in the future. Their house is like a living and efficient machine. It cooks, cleans, bathes people, and it also has a special room called a nursery. The nursery is a room designed for children to project things in their mind and make them as if they’re real. The purpose of this is to allow the children to embrace their creativity and encourage thinking and learning.
After reading this story, I realized that it goes into several ideas about the relationship between humans and technology. One of those ideas is that technology can take over a human’s job. This can be seen when George and Lydia Hadley, the parents, speak about how they feel like they’ve spoiled their kids with too much technology. Lydia feels as if her high-tech house took over her job as a mother and caretaker for her kids, and she feels as if that mother-child relationship with her children has been severed as a result.
Another idea presented by this story is that technology can make humans lazy. This is very apparent within George and Lydia’s kids, Peter and Wendy. When George threatened to turn off the house, Peter became enraged and questioned, “Would I have to tie my own shoes…and brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” (Bradbury, Reading Packet 28) Peter had become so used to his house that he felt all he had to do as a human was “Look and listen and smell” (Bradbury, Reading Packet 28).
I’d also like to talk about the mental effects the children’s lifestyle had on them. The kids are only about ten years old, but their whole life they’d been spoiled with luxuries and allowed to do whatever they pleased. Growing up with their house meant their parents didn’t do much physical work in raising them, so in a sense, the loyalty that children usually have towards their parents is the same loyalty these children had towards the house instead. Whenever their technological privileges were to be taken away, the Hadley kids would throw ridiculous tantrums. During their last tantrum, Peter wailed at the ceiling, as if he was talking to the house, “Don’t let Father kill everything” (Bradbury, Reading Packet 30). This was the final indication that the children no longer belonged to their parents.
The end of the story is quite sad. The Hadley kids turned on their parents and had them supposedly killed by lions in the nursery. It’s suggested that the children figured out a way to make the projections real. It’s also important to note that the parents found their own screams to be familiar to them during the attack from the lions. This little bit of detail reveals that the children had been fantasizing about killing their parents before.
In conclusion, although this story is science-fiction, the ideas showcased in it are quite real and relatable to life today. Bradbury makes you think twice about your own dependency on technology and makes you realize how much it’s involved in everyday life. I believe the message he was going for was to tell us to take a break every now and then for the sake of our mental health. Technology is very helpful, but do not let it take away from your identity as a self-efficient human being.
Bradbury, Ray, and Maryam Alikhani. The Veldt [Reading Packet for Engineering] . Maryam Alikhani, 17 July 2018.