The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury is a science fiction short story about a man lost in a strange futuristic society that does not welcome his ways, he is caught in the past and the whole world has changed without him. We are not entirely sure who the man is or why he is so different to everyone else, but reading the text I realized he resembled many people living in our society today. The man walks the empty streets alone, passing houses filled with people watching television that never go outside. The streets resemble those in an apocalypse, with unkept pavements sprouting weeds and plants between their cracks. and abandoned highways arcing off into the distance, yet everyone is fine and safe, it is like a quiet apocalypse and a stark warning of the future. I would recommend this text to teenagers and adults who often find themselves stuck on their devices, maybe if they read this story they may realize that they need to change.
The first thing I noticed about this story is how abandoned and un-loved the world is in the dark future Bradbury has created, yet Humans are still living relatively normal lives. The idea of a quiet apocalypse dawned on me then as Leonard Mead walked past crumbling and grey houses filled with people watching television; “In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not once in all that time” In many post apocalyptic movies and books I have watched and read there is always a strong theme of desolation and emptiness throughout the story as the main character tries to survive. Yet here Leonard is walking down a suburban street in a city housing over three million people and he is completely alone. I feel like a lot of people experience this in our society today although not as serious, one can often walk down a once busy street late at night and feel like the whole world is deserted.
Considering “The Pedestrian” was published in 1951 it seems kind of creepy that Bradbury somewhat predicted the future, as if these aspects seen in the world today were expected. With the invention of television in the early 1930s people began to stay in the comfort of their homes more instead of going outside. Although only a minor change I can see how some people may have feared that it could escalate, which it has but maybe not in the way they would have imagined. People then must have been concerned to see their children staring blankly at television screens and I believe this is what the author is trying to get across, his worry for the future generations through science-fiction. In today’s society people are not as much glued to their television screens as they are to phones or computers however this short story is still very reflective of life in the twenty-first century, and i believe it should be read by those who may resemble the people described sitting in their houses while the rest of the world carries on.
By night the streets Leonard walks alongside are empty and seemingly abandoned but in the day they are filled to the brim with rushing cars and traffic. “During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars”, The way Bradbury describes it made me feel that it happened as if switch was suddenly flicked and everyone came out of their houses at once to go to work and wherever else. In some ways this is true as people drag themselves from their stupor and turn off their televisions in order to go to work. For a brief moment they are snapped out of the trance and act like normal humans until they return home back to their television screens. It is obvious Leonard Mead is very different from anyone else living in the city and this becomes evident when the one police car in the entire city confronts him with suspicion. He is caught in the cars light beam as it interrogates him, just for walking down the street at night. “the lone car turned a corner quite suddenly and flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him” The author used this line as a demonstration of how plain society had become, to the point that Leonard’s walks were almost a crime. In The world today minorities and “strange” and different people are often viewed as suspicious for acting and living differently to everyone else. They are picked on and ridiculed by authorities who often have an unconscious or conscious bias. An example of this could be Black Americans or Muslim Europeans, people that are not originally from the society they live in.
Leonard Mead is an astoundingly different man in this new world, so much so that his behavior is considered a “regressive tendency” which is used to describe someone who purposely behaves very differently from a certain group. Leonard is one of these people and he often is ostracized because of it. “if he wore hard heels, and
lights might click on and faces appear and an entire street be startled by the passing of a lone figure”. Reading this story I felt sorry for the main character, he is just being himself but he is utterly alone in the world and is treated like someone with mental issues, and People aren’t afraid to tell him and he knows this too; “Nobody wanted me”. I feel like elderly people may sometimes feel the same way as the things they knew from their childhood slowly disappear, for example when they ask for a newspaper or bring out a cheque while shopping they are looked at quizzically by many people around them.
I believe Ray Bradbury is very much like the main character Leonard. He is the kind of person who does not follow the norm and saw what was coming when televisions arrived in peoples homes and felt the need to act. Nowadays his story is almost a reality and more valid than ever in a time where peoples lives are being smothered by their personal devices. Reading this text I felt the main characters overwhelming loneliness as he traverses the cracks and bumps in the pavement of a derelict and silent world while millions hide away watching their screens. I saw a similarity between our world and his, where I sincerely wish I couldn’t.