The Illustrated Man

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THE ILLUSTRATED MAN
An exploration of Ray Bradbury
by Aaron Sexton
THE AUTHOR
• (August 1920 – June 2012)
• An American science fiction writer
• Best known for Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles
• Bradbury often cited authors and poets such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells,
and Jules Verne as his influences, though he was an avid reader of all types
• He had a habit of writing every single day
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN
• Eighteen Short Stories
• Seemingly unrelated, each story is tied to the others by the illustrated man, a
man whose tattoos can tell the future.
• This man is also the antagonist of Something Wicked This Way Comes
• Science fiction short stories often exploring themes of space, technology and
psychology.
SOME STORIES
• The Veldt
• Kaleidoscope
• This story deals with a small family of four
who live in an automated house with a 3D
nursery.
• A more psychological examination than The
Veldt, this story deals with a group of
astronauts who are floating to their deaths
in space.
• The nursery projects an African plain full of
hungry lions, feasting on strange carcasses.
• When a psychiatrist tells the parents to try to
remove the influence of the house from
their children’s lives, the children throw
tantrums and lock their parents in the
nursery.
• The lions get some fresh meat.
• The narrator reflects on his life and the
characters of the other spacemen floating
around him, bitterly scorning his
accomplishments.
• All he wants is to mean something to
someone else.
• In the end, he is seen as a shooting star by
an earth child
SOME STORIES
• The Long Rain
• The Visitor
• This story follows four spacemen who have
crash landed on Venus, a planet where it
never stops raining
• In this story, Mars is a planet left to hopeless
exiles, people who have contracted a
deadly disease
• As they search for Sun Domes—constructed
sanctuaries that protect men from the
rain—the rain drives them insane one by
one
• Our narrator is a man in the middle stages of
decay who sees a rocket land and drop off
a young man who can project his thoughts
into the minds of others.
• The lieutenant finally finds a Sun Dome and
safety, but is it the real thing, or is his
madness setting in?
• His gift is brilliant, but the other exiles fight
over who will get to use the boy’s talents
and he is killed in the conflict.
• His gift is lost and our narrator realizes there is
no escaping his miserable existence now.
THOUGHTS AND THEMES
• In the very first story, a psychologist
examines the negative effects of
technology on the children. This theme
continues throughout the collection, though
it is explored in a variety of ways.
• In The Long Rain, the four men’s
dependence on the Sun Domes also shows
us how technology can lead to a sense of
false security, even on a hostile planet that
was originally uninhabitable
• Kaleidoscope continues the exploration of
the human mind, relating the thoughts and
reflections of our narrator as he deals with
his whole crew’s dying thoughts.
• “The others were silent, thinking of the
destiny that had brought them to this,
falling, falling, and nothing they could do to
change it. Even the captain was quiet for
there was no command or plan he knew
that could put things back together again.”
• We watch dying thoughts and feel
connected to the human consciousness,
even though the setting is a place we may
never understand or reach
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Each of these stories looks at the psychology of man in the face of
a future only Bradbury could have imagined. Each planet is full of
life, each character deals with this strange existence in brilliantly
developed thought and action, and the themes Bradbury explores
remind us that no matter how far we go, we will always be humans.
Technology can be cold, people can be cruel and life can be
fleeting, but in the end people make it all worthwhile. Whether it is
the satisfaction the Lietenant would have received for becoming a
shooting star, or the more tangible satisfaction the narrator of The
Visitor derives in his new “friend”, human nature is put under the
microscope. It is quite often a negative view we get, but Bradbury
doesn’t leave us hopeless. We see human nature in a new light, the
light of a bright future full of potential.

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