The Martian Chronicles
by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles Theme of Isolation
In The Martian Chronicles, you can choose your own isolation adventure: you can be totally alone, like Gripp at the beginning of "The Silent Towns;" or you can just feel alone, like Spender at the beginning of "—And The Moon Be Still As Bright." Sure, Bradbury shows that crowds and large groups of people can be scary (see the crowd in "The Martian"—or in his short story "The Crowd"). That doesn't mean he's pro-isolation. Being alone is not presented in a positive light in The Martian Chronicles, but it can be even worse to be surrounded by people who don't see things the way you do. The lesson here? Befriend a nice group of like-minded people. Okay, Ray, we'll get right on that.
Questions About Isolation
- What benefits to isolation does The Martian Chronicles suggest? Is it worse to be completely alone or to be with people who don't see things the way you do?
- Who suffers the most from isolation? Does Spender suffer by being isolated from the rest of the crew? Or, given his plan to kill off everyone and live alone forever, does Spender enjoy his isolation? What about Wilder, who is politically isolated?
- What do the many scenes of isolation in this book share in common? For instance, Gripp and Hathaway are both "the last man on Mars" (they think). What is similar about the way they deal with their isolation? What about the house in "There Will Come Soft Rains"—how does it deal with isolation?
Chew on This
In The Martian Chronicles, isolation is the worst fate people can imagine. Characters like Spender and the Martian (from "The Martian") would rather die than be alone.
Bradbury suggests that isolation is key to figuring out one's true identity.