The book of Bradbury's creation that I read was the Martian Chronicles. Initially, I was intrigued by Ray Bradbury's implementation of elaborately descriptive settings. Each chronicle takes place during a different month and year, arranged in chronological order, from January 1999 to October 2026. Since the story spans over a long period of time, there are several locations in which the events occur. The major settings of the story include: Ohio, a small town next to the rocket launch pad, a large desert on Mars, with canals, that is a harbor to the "dead cities," a town on Mars which is the home of Yll and Ylla , the Martian landing site next to one of the canals, a Martian insane asylum, a town, that seems almost dreamlike in a sense, because it is the memories of the flight crew projected onto the Martian landscape, a luggage shop, and a city surrounded by rural farm area, that has only one house left standing.
These settings are used as a device to move the novel along from each individual story to the next. I think that this was a very interesting concept, because there are no main characters in the book.
However, there are main characters within each chronicle. Ylla is the first Martian introduced in the book; she is friendly, kind, and has an outgoing personality. James Stupple indicated in his book The Past, The Future, and Ray Bradbury that Ylla seems to lack love for her husband Yll. I agree with his opinion since, she has dreams of Captain York constantly.
This triggers Yll to become jealous and destroy the Earth rocket.
Coincidentally, similar things happen in all Societies on different levels. For Example: In America, adultery is constantly in the news. Our own President is a repeat offender. What would possess some one to disobey the norms and values upon which our society is based, in such a disgusting and appalling way? Personally, I think that the idea of the chaos theory plays a role here, hence nothing can be perfect and all people feel the urge to self-destruct through misdemeanor. It seems almost that Bradbury drew Ylla's internal conflict from that theory. Captain Black was one of the leaders of the Earth crew. He was old, experienced, and had many years of wisdom to recall upon when needed. Captain Black has the uncanny ability to rethink problems over and over again until he finds the answer. I see myself to be similar to him in that sense. I am not able to let predicaments be, I must take as much time as needed to find a resolution to the problem at hand.
Edward Black is the Martian who is responsible for keeping Captain Black deceived about the "dream town." Edward is extremely intelligent and able to read minds. He incorporated the Captain's memories into a town on the Martian landscape. I believe that the preceding example supports the commentary made by Kingsley Amis, in his book New Maps of Hell. Amis stated that one of the prevalent themes in Bradbury's works, was that "Though the past, or stasis, or both is enticing, it may be deadly as well." Ray Bradbury supported the idea of the melting pot theory, in which everyone who is new to a society must give up his or her past, and blend into the culture as well as except the values and norms of the dominant group in the society. Evidently, the melting pot theory has existed since our ancestors migrated here from Europe. They came here in yield of promise and opportunity, but found that Nativism and racial prejudice would control their lives. They would be forced to conform to American culture, or they would never be able to succeed in their endeavors. Hence, in order to seize a meaningful future, you must reject the past.
Tomas Gomez is a human being, that adds an interesting twist to the story. He in contrast to the other human characters in the literature is open-minded to the Martian culture. He does not pass judgment on the different opinions, different vehicles, and appearance of the Martians. Tomas seems to be the definitive ray of hope in the piece. He is used as a symbolic representation of racial equality between Martians and humans. Mr. Teece, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of Gomez. Teece always needs to feel superior to everyone around him. He is a horrible husband to his wife, and holds a magnitude of prejudices against the white men. In fact at nights he and his friends, shoot and sometimes maul white men to their bloody deaths. If Tomas Gomez were North, then Mr. Teece would be the equivalent of South. Teece is symbolic of the racial hate groups that exist in our Society. The groups are based on a strong belief that their ways of life are more important than that of any other group. Therefore, a parallel can be drawn between Teece and racial hate groups.
Stendahl represents the typical 1st amendment activist. He is passionate about his ideas of free thinking. Stendahl uses his creativity, and imagination to express his ideas to everyone in anyway possible. The summation of his abilities lie in the walls of the House of Usher, a temple of horror which he created, in homage to the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, to express his ideas. Hathaway much like Stendahl is extremely intelligent, and self reliant. Hathaway replaced his family with robots that were incapable of sadness. All though he could be considered insane, Hathaway was in touch with reality.
The two recurrent conflicts in The Martian Chronicles are social and ideological. From the ideological standpoint, a conflict arose about the conformity of Mars to suit the Earth people. Splender, one of the Martian leaders, believes that Mars should be kept as it is, and not changed to accommodate the people from Earth. He refused to compromise, and decided to kill any human that he could find. The captain of the Martians believed in Splender's views after meeting with him, but knew that it was his duty as captain to compromise with the Earthlings. The social conflict was between Stendahl, and the censors. Stendahl believed in free thinking and fantasy books. He rebelled against the censors by building the House of Usher. Garrett, the head of the censors, sent a robot to kill Stendahl. However, Stendahl killed the robot, and sent back one that looked like himself. Thus, luring Garrett into a death trap.
Amidst the elaborate settings, symbolic characters, and crucial conflicts, Bradbury established two dominant themes. The first of the themes is that when the real and unreal conjoin, its result will be disaster.
Throughout the book when the Earth crew members were deceived by hallucinations, they inevitably died. For example, when Edward Black created the "dream town" from the memories of the crew, they were trapped, and left to die. The second theme is that, if technology is misused or overused, then it will destroy nature. This is exemplified in the destruction of Earth. Man felt a need to build and create new things just because, something could be built. The need to do so ultimately destroyed the earth.
In conclusion, Ray Bradbury's the Martian Chronicles, contains some of the most important Sociological issues in America today. He deals with the issues of freedom of speech, racism, prejudice and conformity. All though there are not any major characters that consistently appear throughout the story, the major characters within each chronicles are used symbolically to support his themes. Finally, Ray Bradbury uses descriptive settings to tie all of the chronicles together.