The Illustrated Man: Chapter One – The Veldt

The Illustrated Man
Dust-jacket from the first edition

Background: “The Veldt” is a short story written by Ray Bradbury that was published originally as “The World the Children Made” in the September 23, 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, later republished in the anthology The Illustrated Man in 1951. The anthology is a collection of short stories that were mostly published individually in magazines beforehand.

Summary: Far into the future, two parents use a high tech nursery to keep their children happy. The children use the nursery’s simulation equipment to recreate the predatorial environment of the African veldt. When the parents threaten to take the nursery away, the children lock their parents inside where it is implied that the parents are mauled and killed by the harmless machine-generated lions of the nursery.

Detail: A family lives in a house with the latest technology. It is called the “Happylife Home” and its installation cost $30,000. The house is filled with machines that do everything for them from cooking meals, to clothing them, to rocking them to sleep. The two children, Peter and Wendy, become fascinated with the “nursery,” a virtual reality room that is able to connect with the children telepathically to reproduce any place they imagine.

The parents, George and Lydia, soon realize that there is something wrong with their way of life. The emptiness of life in the “Happylife Home” has caused George to take up smoking and drinking, while the children have become stoners and juvenile. George and Lydia are also perplexed that the nursery is stuck on an African setting, with lions in the distance, eating the dead carcass of what they assume to be an animal. There they also find recreations of their personal belongings. Wondering why their children are so concerned with this scene of death, they decide to call a psychologist.

The psychologist, David McClean, suggests they turn off the house and leave. The children, completely addicted to the nursery, beg their parents to let them have one last visit. The parents relent, and agree to let them spend a few more minutes there. When they come to the nursery to fetch the children, the children lock them in from the outside. George and Lydia look on as the lions begin to advance towards them. At that point, they realize that what the lions were eating in the distance was not an animal, but their own simulated remains.

The kids realized that the only way they could stay in their nursery is to get rid of their parents by locking George and Lydia in the nursery with the lions.

Online Version: The short story “The Veldt” can be found online at: http://www.veddma.com/veddma/Veldt.htm.

Author: Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a full-time writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a career military father and stay at home mother. He lived in six states and attended eight different schools before graduating high school. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Military Science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. Before writing full-time, he worked as a US Army officer for 10-years, religious educator for 18-years, and as an IT software application engineer for over 20-years. He is a widower. He lives in North Texas with his cat Lacey.

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