The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles Theme of Art and Culture
You can live without art, sure—but would you want to? The Martian Chronicles makes a strong case that life without art and culture is pretty meaningless. Several characters we like (Ylla and Spender for instance) seem to have positive feelings toward art, philosophy, and literature, whereas character we don't like (Briggs and Parkhill) see culture primarily as target practice. It's pretty clear where Bradbury comes down on the issue. As Spender argues, science may help preserve life—but art can help us figure out what life is about.
Questions About Art and Culture
- Besides art and literature, what other forms of culture do we see in The Martian Chronicles? What about religion—is that a form of culture in "The Fire Balloons"? What about Driscoll's attempt to plant trees—should that count as culture? (Consider the many meanings of "culture.")
- In "Usher II," Stendahl makes a passionate defense of literature—both in his lectures to Garrett and in his murder of the censors. Is his defense persuasive? What does he base it on?
- How does The Martian Chronicles convey its feelings on art and culture?
Chew on This
In The Martian Chronicles, art and culture are presented as the highest achievements of humanity. As Spender argues, without art we'll end up destroying ourselves with technology—which is what happens at the end of the book.
While Bradbury defends art and culture in this book, he does so mostly by having characters tell us how great art is. We don't actually see how important art is in many of these stories.