The Pedestrian Essay

615 Words May 8th, 2011 3 Pages
Utopia and dystopia:
Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian”

Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian” is a dramatic illustration of the dangers of living in a world where contact with nature is deemed so abnormal that even walking alone at night is a crime. The dystopian story revolves around the tale of a man named Leonard Mead, living during a time period not so far away from our own, in 2053 CE. In the story, a robotic police car is so suspicious of Mead’s walking behavior during one pleasant night that he is taken away to a psychiatric hospital. In the new world, desiring televised rather than real experience is considered ‘normal.’ People only venture out during the day when it is required for their work.
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In many communities, walking ‘behavior’ does appear to be unusual, because it looks so uncommon, despite the natural physiological aspect of walking. Riding in a car is seen as more normal, just like a robotic policeman is seen as more normal in the Bradbury story. Today, people do still walk, but often on a moving conveyor belt at the gym, rather in a real environment. This takes people away from nature and a sense of being part of something larger than themselves. Although Bradbury does not specifically discuss the physical risks of inactivity, the nation’s climbing obesity rate is clear evidence of the fact that Americans are moving less and instead turning to sedentary pastimes to unwind. From Bradbury’s perspective in time, the dangers of television were the greatest risk posed to enjoying hands-on, real world activities. Today, there are even more varied sedentary distractions, spanning from the Internet, to mobile phones, to video games. In the modern world, we are increasingly categorized by our technological devices. Our cellphones, cars, and computers define our identities, rather than our bodies. We are losing the ability to amuse ourselves in the outside world. But it is our connection to nature, stripped of technology, which is essential to our individuality, not the programs we watch on television—or the appearance of our cellphones. Bradbury’s dystopian story provides a warning that is clearly not being heeded. Although we may have more technological