Honors English 1
10 February 2013
The Privilege of Individualism
What if our whole lives we had to live as all others did, completely stripped of our identity and sense of self? Ray Bradbury proposes such a world in his short story “The Pedestrian,” a story about a middle-aged man, Leonard Mead, living in a uniform, monotonous society yet doesn’t quite follow its tacit rules. Through diction and metaphors, Ray Bradbury shows that a uniform society suppresses individuality, and in doing so supports the idea of individualism. By comparing the society that Leonard lives in to a graveyard, Bradbury creates a very lifeless, monotone world of AD 2053. His use of metaphors are prevalent from the very beginning of the text, describing Mead’s nightly walks as “unequal to walking through a graveyard” (2) and later on, he goes so far as comparing the people to the dead in the graveyard, “The tomblike houses…the tombs, ill-lit by television light,
Halev 2 where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them” (3). This gives his readers the impression of a surreal, ghost-like world and as if Leonard Mead, the pedestrian, is the only real person walking, living, or breathing. Even the police at the end of the story aren’t living- Leonard is confronted by a police car, which arrests him without a living person inside. Bradbury’s word choice creates a cold, unfriendly atmosphere, describing the car’s voice as “metallic” (2), “iron” (4), and even as “the phonograph voice” (3). The people in this society are so inanimate that they don’t even need the police to monitor them; in fact, only one police car remains in the population of three million.
Because Bradbury illustrates such a humane individual in a pleasant view against his society and putting it in such a cold, harsh light it shows that he is a supporter of individualism. This cheerful character is
Cited: Bradbury, Ray. “The Pedestrian.” The Golden Apples of the Sun. Praeger, April 29 ,1971. 98-102.