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The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

Memory and the Past Theme

There's a reason VH1 keeps running I Love the 80s marathons: nostalgia is big business, and The Martian Chronicles knows that people love to reminisce about a better, more neon-tastic past. Many characters have childhood memories that affect the story in one way or another. For instance, "The Fire Balloons" is named after Father Peregrine's memory of the Fourth of July, and the Martians use childhood memories to trick members of the Third Expedition. These aren't just coincidences: Bradbury is posing serious questions about whether the past is better than the present and whether the future is going to get better or worse. And nostalgia isn't just a private matter; when societies get nostalgic, do they just end up going backward?

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Which characters in the book seem most obsessed with the past? Father Peregrine and Captain Black come to mind, but what about the LaFarges, and their memory of their dead son Tom?
  2. What is it about the past that seems to be the most memorable and desirable?
  3. How do various characters attempt to break past and start over? How are the characters that go to Mars interested in starting over? How does the family in "The Million-Year Picnic" try to break with the past? 
  4. What examples can we find of childhood memories helping characters? How might such memories be dangerous?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In The Martian Chronicles, the past is a force that cannot be escaped. We'll all eventually be sad over losing something.

The past is a roadmap for the future in The Martian Chronicles. Having a sense of the past is the only way to live peacefully and happily.

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