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artemis42
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posted 06-17-2002 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for artemis42   Click Here to Email artemis42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm doing a research paper on bradbury's stories zero hour, Boys! raise giant mushrooms..., and fever dream. i can tell there is some sort of statement about the human condition in there becasue the men become the invaders, they become the enemy. please help...

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Mr. Dark
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posted 06-18-2002 02:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr. Dark   Click Here to Email Mr. Dark     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a list of possible themes and some ideas I put together for someone on another page. I hope this is helpful. If you have other thoughts or questions, just go ahead and post again.

I think Nightshade definitely has one aspect of what "Zero Hour" is doing. Bradbury often attacks conformity and ties it to television and mass media. Truth is, I had not thought of the story in those terms, so I'm grateful for the added insight.
I think that in a lot of the really good Bradbury stories, things operate at several levels.

At the most simple level, it is a tale of the invasion of Earth from another planet (Jupiter, Saturn, Venus?) in the manner of a Trojan Horse. The story even spells that out when it states:

[Mink speaking with her mom] ". . . he says in order to make a good fight you got to have a new way of surprising people. That way you win. And he says also you got to have help from your enemy.

'A fifth column,' said Mom.

'Yeah. That's what Drill said. And they couldn't figure a way to surprise Earth or get help. . . .

'Until one day,' whispered Mink melodramatically, 'they thought of the children!"

The invaders realize that the earth has become impenetrable. The story is clear about this:

"There was the universal, quiet conceit and easiness of men accustomed to peace, quite certain there would never be trouble again. Arm in arm, men all over earth were a united front. The perfect weapons were held in equal trust by all nations. A situation of incredibly beautiful balance had been brought about. There were no traitors among men [but what about among children?!]. No unhappy ones, no disgruntled ones; therefore the world was based upon a stable ground."

Using the children allows the aliens to arrive all over the earth at the same time. This way, I think, they don't have to face the "perfect" weapons of man. (At least, not initially.)

I think another interesting tangent would be to look at Bradbury's other instances of Utopias. He doesn't seem to buy into them. If Bradbury cites this world as being in perfect stability, he is probably setting it up for some flaw to appear and destroy it.

I think that, at another level, this story is about (1) the loss of imagination, and (2) the loss of "life" by focusing on the mundane tasks of adulthood.

A lot of Bradbury's ideas relate to the wonder of childhood. In his introduction to "Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow," Bradbury states:

"The fact is that as we get older the wonders and awes seem to fade a trifle. All of us work ourselves into our own little phonograph record existence, play the same tune each day . . . This is the safe, sane, sure little path we must all take if we are to live on this world. In habit there is comfort, in routine there is satisfaction. Only occasionally, as years pass, do the sunsets, the awes, wonders, and beauties break through our shells . . ."

It is similar to one of the themes in Farenheit 451. Clarisse, the young person, is still alive to life. Montag has lost it. She is able to bring it alive in him again, but it is a long and hard process.

The parents, in this story, live their normal lives. Mink's mother, in fact, is quite nice -- making sure she is taking care of her children and giving them space to enjoy their youthful imaginations. She even remembers -- at least to a certain extent -- what childhood was like. She remembers the good (imagination) and the bad (repression by parents). Mink's mother even has a passage where she muses about whether or not children can ever truly forgive and forget:

"Children, children. Children and love and hate, side by side. Sometimes children loved you, hated you -- all in half a second. Strange children, did they ever forget or forgive the whippings and the harsh, strict words of command? She wondered. How can you ever forget or forgive those over and above you, those tall and silly dictators?"

In other words, Mink's mother seems like a great mother. But it is not enough to save her. It is not enough to really allow her imagination/intuition to put everything together until it is too late. When she locked herself in the attic, Bradbury is clear that she has been "sensing" this all day:

"She was babbling wild stuff now. It came out of her. All the subconscious suspicion and fear that had gathered secretly all afternoon and fermented like a wine in her. All the little revelations and knowledges and sense that had bothered her all day and which she had logically and carefully and sensibly rejected and censored. Now it exploded in her and shook her to bits."

Her logical mind had squelched the intuitive. Again, in his introduction to "Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow" Bradbury states that he is an emotionalist:

"I am no glib theorist or literary technician capable of diagramming these stories for you in great sweeps of logic and detail . . I have had nothing but my emotions to go on. . .I am compensated by allowing myself to believe that while the scientific man can tell you the exact size, location, pulse, musculature and color of the hear, we emotionalists can find and touch it quicker."

I think Mink represents each child, who, either in innocence or in malice, is used by the aliens to invade. I think Drill is the manifestation of the aliens -- since "Drill" is a name referenced by the mothers all over the country (while they talk to each other on their phones).

I think, as I said, a lot of themes are here:

(1) Repression of the imagination.
(2) The beauty of the imagination and that it represents life.
(3) The danger that lurks when parents "ignore" their children as people (see "The Veldt" for further proof of this danger).
(4) The question of how innocent children really are (Again, see "The Veldt")(Also, just how innocent is Mink's "peekaboo" at the end of the story?)
(5) The question of the possibility or impossibility of a Utopia.
(6) The loss of the imagination seems to occur natuarally as people age. (Remember in the story, no one over twelve is allowed to participate in the invasion.)
(7) The literary technique of setting up the reader. Notice that the very opening paragraph talks about the exhuberance of youth.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on the story.


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