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The Pedestrian

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The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury

Utopia: an ideal place (fictional)
This short story is an example of Dystopian fiction – dealing with a society that embodies a flawed perfection – achieved at a cost.

In the story, Ray Bradbury attacks a society which is, in effect, a police state – a totalitarian regime. The sole representative of the regime is, appropriately, the police car.

Mead is a non-conformist whose ‘crime’ is to walk for pleasure – a most simple and natural activity. The oppressive nature of the regime is emphasised by the fact that such a basic human activity is prohibited and has been eradicated – as indicated by the disused sidewalks.

The nature of this soulless society is emphasised again and again by numerous images connected with death: “dark windows” “not unlike walking through a graveyard” “tomb-like buildings” and “grey phantoms”

By contrast the vivid sensory description of Mead’s walk is conveyed through crisp natural images which evoke the senses and show his delight in simple pleasures and sensations: breathing in the cold November air and its “crystal frost” makes his “lungs blaze like a Christmas tree inside” the “branches filled with invisible snow”.

This is a society which (it is implied) is kept docile and uninformed by a diet of poor quality TV programmes (which, we assume from the Police Car’s incredulity when Mead explains that he has no TV, are controlled by the State). The minds of the population have been dulled by the TV they are incessantly and acceptingly fed. Only Mead can see through the banality and predictability of the programmes: ”Where are the cowboys rushing?”

”A dozen assorted murders”
”A comedian falling off the stage”

There is nothing to stimulate the intellect of the population here. Despite the (large) number of channels, there is a complete absence of any political programme which might challenge the government. Possibly suggesting brain-washing. If not, it is clear from the way that the...