50 pages 1 hour read

Ray Bradbury

The Veldt

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1950

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Summary and Study Guide

Summary: “The Veldt”

“The Veldt” is a science fiction short story by the American author Ray Bradbury, originally published in 1950 in The Saturday Evening Post and included in the book anthology The Illustrated Man the following year. By the early 1950s, Bradbury had earned a reputation for his science fiction works exploring “the hazards of runaway technology” (Encyclopedia Britannica). This guide is based on the story from the collection Ray Bradbury: The Stories of Ray Bradbury, Everyman’s Library 2010 first edition.

Presumably set in the future, “The Veldt” tells the story of a married couple, George and Lydia Hadley, who live in an ultra-modern home and become increasingly worried about its effect on their lives and the lives of their two children. In particular, they are disturbed by the nursery they built for the children, which has the capacity to simulate whatever scene the visitor imagines.

As the story opens, the nursery looks and feels exactly like the African veldt, complete with lions, vultures, and a burning sun. The simulation is so real that George and Lydia recoil in shock and vow to close the nursery down for a while. They decide to take a vacation from all their machines and conveniences and live a more natural lifestyle. The children, Wendy and Peter, are upset at this decision and throw a tantrum, after which George and Lydia agree to turn the nursery on again for just a few minutes. However, the children seize this opportunity to lock their parents in the nursery, where they are devoured by the all-too-real lions.

Like much science fiction of the mid-20th century, “The Veldt” speaks to contemporary fears that children and adults were becoming addicted to technology, and in particular, that entertainment would take the place of real-life experiences. Wendy and Peter have become spoiled and manipulative, and their parents are all too ready to give in to their whims. Although the Hadley family enjoy a pampered lifestyle in which machines take care of their every need, Lydia remembers what life used to be like before the change. She longs to return to cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores—a life in which every member of the family has his place and usefulness.

But the Hadleys discover that it is too late to switch back, and the technology with which they have surrounded themselves ends up destroying them. Using satire and fantasy, “The Veldt” delivers a stern warning about one of the dangers inherent in modern society.

This guide refers to the “The Veldt” as reprinted in The Stories of Ray Bradbury from Everyman’s Library.