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Childish: an essay on “The Veldt” By Ray Bradbury and “Beautiful Monsters” By Eric Puchner

Childish

“The Veldt” By Ray Bradbury and “Beautiful Monsters” By Eric Puchner are both heavily influenced on the affect that technology has on children. Bradbury focuses on how easily children can use technology as a source of callow and dangerous power. Puncher explores the possibility of an entirely youthful reign of children and how their abuse of their technology has left them intelligent but inexperienced. “The Veldt” and “Beautiful Monsters” express the idea that technology and technological advances can corrupt the ideas of family and childhood. But “The Veldt” offers a more relevant critique of our society’s obsession with the escape from reality and responsibility though the use of technology and how it can destroy the family unit.

In the Short Stories “The Veldt” and “Beautiful Monsters” The Adults are powerless to the children. They have to tread very carefully around the children. In “The Veldt” Lydia and George Hadley, the parents of Wendy and Peter, most like any parents try to (and would like to) give their children whatever they ask for. They indulge their children with the finest things money can buy. In this futuristic story the nursery is the end all be all of indulgences for the children. It is a room in which if you can imagine it, you will see it. But the parents fear it. It has become too real, too feral, “‘did you feel? It’s too real’ ” (Bradbury 2). It is no longer was a child like paradise allowing you to step into and find “wonderland, Alice, The Mock turtle or Aladdin and his Magical Lamp, or jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, or Dr. Doolittle or [a] cow jumping over a very real-appearing moon-all the delightful contraptions of a make-believe world”(Bradbury 4). It no longer is the escape that will allow the children live out their cheerful fantasies. It has completely taken over the emotional wellbeing of the children. The entire house has taken over what any parent would do for their children. The house bathed them, the house fed them, and the house rocked them to sleep. The happylife home had made the parents obsolete there was not emotional connection to their parents. In “Beautiful Monsters” The Man from the Mountains is at complete mercy of the boy and the girl who could either kill him or turn him into the authorities. He too realizes that these “children” are not to be taken lightly “the man looks at his gun. ‘Don’t worry I’m by myself. We split up so we’d be harder to kill’”.(Puncher 198) The man realizes that his only way to survive is to get on the good side of the “children” knowing that they too a just as mentally capable of complex thinking as any full grown adult. The man tries to tap into the things that real children typically love to do like piggy back rides and making paper airplanes. The children have no sense of family. They do not fully comprehend the feeling like an adult or feeling like a child.

The Children In both stories gain their power through technology it is the complete center of their lives. In “Beautiful Monsters” They children can be describe as adults in children’s bodies. They have been given and injections that allows their bodies to stay childlike and their minds to be that of an adult. They are “encoded with all the knowledge they’ll ever need”. Their youth is the source of their power, they, will never grow old and they will never endure sickness. The Boy and the Girl will never know life the same way the man has. The boy and the girl will never know attachment of family or love, in the way the man comprehends it. This medical technology has taken out any risks that life has had before it. Nothing is left to chance or to feeling. They have managed to force the adults out of society and made them hide in the woods like fugitives. They are no longer needed, everything they will ever need or want to create can be done so in a lab. There is no more need for a couple to come together and create life or create a loving family. There isn’t any love in this society, just functionality. In the Veldt, Bradbury characters, Wendy and Peter use the Nursery against their parents’ that is their source of power. They use it to destroy their parents. Once Lydia and George have become aware of how the happylife home nursery “ ‘has become a channel toward –destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them’ ”(Bradbury 8). they opt to shut everything down and get out of the house and live a tech free life. The children corrupt the system of the nursery to make the veldt real. The sun too hot, sweltering was a reflection of the rage these children felt and the lions slowly stalking their prey wanting to ambush Lydia and George was what they wanted.  They had poured so much of their anger and spite that they feel towards their parents into that room that it wants to attack them too. The room had become a part of Wendy and Peter, it was an extension of them it was the only way they knew how to release their feelings.

While the Stories have similarities “The Veldt” Is especially relevant to us. In the age of 2015, while there are huge technological advancements there does seems to be a rift between children and parents because of the use of modern technology such as computers T.V and video games. Today we are completely surrounded by technology. You can’t go anywhere without seeing it, and in turn to that you can hardly do anything without it.  As great as technology is, there does seem to be a gap between generations. Older generations who did not grow up with the internet or a computer in the house don’t seem to understand the connection that younger generations feel towards things such as their phone or laptops. Much like how the Hadley Parent’s in “The Veldt” did not seem to understand their children’s attachment to the nursery. Bradbury had perfectly summed up his generations feelings towards how generations like mine use technology. If you told a 20 year old that you were going to take away their phone and computer forever they would act much like Peter and Wendy when their nursery got turned off “[they] were in hysterics. They screamed and pranced and threw things. They yelled and sobbed and swore.”(Bradbury 9) as fun as it is to go around assuming older generations like baby boomers have a better sense of “real life” because of the lack of technology that they had growing up, you can also assume that the first generations that grew up with electricity probably got  the same kind of flak for something they couldn’t control. The technological gaps between young and old will always be here, so if one generation acts a certain way because of the advancements of an older generation it is not the younger one’s fault if they take advantage of what they have been given. “The Veldt” looks at how technology can seems like a  good things a first , but you don’t need it for everything. You can’t let it replace where you would have meaningful human interactions.

In conclusion technology will grow and advance, but if it is up to us about how we go about using it. Will we let it consume us completely? Will it take over the roles of family making it obsolete or will we use it as a tool to help us further and make the family unit a stronger one?

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