Excerpt: From Dialogue to Feeling by Gumbo

The emotions that we feel can impact our actions and the way we think- for better or for worse. In “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, the author shows the emotions of the characters throughout the story by using dialogue to show the emotions of the readers. This dialogue can help to explain the characters’ actions and give the reader a better understanding of the story. “The Veldt” takes place in the Hadley’s homestead, which George Hadley, the father, paid a hefty amount for. The home includes everything a normal house includes, and much more. The Hadleys do what they feel like doing, and don’t do what they don’t feel like doing, such as brushing their teeth, washing themselves, making food and putting clothes on. Things like these are accomplished by the machines that inhabit practically every room in the house. George and Lydia Hadley, the parents of the family, are wondering if all of the automation is really what’s best for their children, or if the children even consider them to be their parents in the first place. Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the characters’ emotions.

At the beginning of the story, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the parents’ unease about the technology. After fleeing from the nursery, Lydia is in a state of shock, which is shown when George says “Lydia! Oh my dear poor sweet Lydia” to comfort her. George then has the idea that “Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?” By adding this dialogue, Bradbury communicated to the readers that George Hadley feels like there’s nothing to do with his life, giving the reader hints as to what George ends up doing. Bradbury also uses dialogue to show that the parents feel replaced when Lydia says, “You smoke a little more every morning and drink a little more every afternoon and need a little more sedative every night. You’re beginning to feel unnecessary too.” This dialogue shows that Lydia is in agreement with George that the family needs a “vacation” and that the machines are replacing them. By demonstrating the emotions of the characters through dialogue, Bradbury is able to give the reader a deeper understanding on the reason as to why the parents are uneasy about the technology.

When the children get home, Bradbury uses dialogue to show the intensity of the exchange between George and Lydia Hadley and their children. When George first suggests to Peter that he is considering the idea of shutting off the technology, Peter says, “That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” By including this dialogue, Bradbury conveys to the reader that Peter is not in agreement with his parents’ stance on the machines, but also that he is scared of having to do the work that the machines have done for him. When George tells Peter to go to bed, Peter ends off the exchange with, “I don’t think you’d better consider it any more, Father.” This line shows that Peter is willing to threaten his father to make his case. By saying this, Peter also shows that he is not likely to change his stance on whether or not to agree with his father. Although It could be argued that Peter was just upset and ended up threatening his father as a result, but his anger persists to the point where Peter and wendy end up killing their parents, showing that Peter was serious about his threat, although his anger certainly didn’t help.

When the psychologist, David McClean arrives, Bradbury is able to shine some light on McClean’s opinion on the matter through dialogue. After George and Lydia show David the nursery, David says, “You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.” This dialogue not only confirms the parent’s suspicions, but it also shows that the psychologist agrees with the parents about shutting the machines off. David also shows that he’s uncomfortable just by being in the nursery by saying, “Let’s get out of here. I never have cared for these damned rooms. Make me nervous.” This dialogue helps to tell the reader not only that the nursery can project images that seem real, but also that George and Lydia aren’t the only ones who are scared of the nursery.

Throughout “The Veldt,” Bradbury uses dialogue to show the emotions of the characters and leave the reader with a better understanding of how the characters are feeling. By using dialogue, Bradbury was able to escalate the tensions between the characters. In the end, Peter and Wendy’s emotions got the best of them, which ended in their parent’s demise. At first, the life of the Hadley family seems to be nearly perfect. But after looking further into it, their lives start to seem dull, and the characters’ actions show that their lives are more complicated than they first seem.

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