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The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles


by Ray Bradbury

Analysis: Tough-o-Meter

We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(4) Sea Level

You're in for a treat: not only is Bradbury a pretty easy writer, he's a beautiful one. He wrote the stories to be published in science fiction magazines, so he wasn't trying to impress anyone with his vocabulary and sentence structure: he was just trying to tell a good story.

But that doesn't mean it's boring. Bradbury is describing what things are like, not what they are, and so his writing is full of gorgeous figurative language (for more on that, check out our poetry terms). Like, check out this totally random sentence:

The sky was empty. There was a feel as if a great bell had just stopped tolling. Reverberations lingered in their teeth and marrows. ("The Fire Balloons," 105)

This is a perfect example of what's both tough and simple about Bradbury's style:

  1. It's easy to understand: "The sky was empty." Pretty clear, right? 
  2. It's figurative: "There was a feel as if a great bell had just stopped tolling." (Notice the simile "as if" there—no bell actually tolled, it just feels like one did.)
  3. He sometimes gets fancy: "Reverberations lingered in their teeth and marrows." Reverberations? That's like echoes of a bell. Marrows? That's the soft part in your bones.

So, settle in somewhere comfy and make sure you have a good snack handy. We think you're going to like this.

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