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The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles


by Ray Bradbury

Characters in "The Taxpayer"

Character Analysis

Okay, maybe this section should really be called "Character in the Taxpayer," but the thing is that Pritchard is really standing in for anyone and everyone who thinks that paying the same taxes everyone else has to pay somehow qualifies him for special treatment.

We first meet him when he's practically banging on the door of the Third Expedition's rocket and demanding to be allowed to go to Mars. He's entitled and ignorant and sounds just a little crazy. He says, "Wasn't he born right here in Ohio? Wasn't he a good citizen? Then why couldn't he go to Mars?" ("The Taxpayer," 1).

No one listens to Pritchard—except the cops, who drag him off to jail. But maybe they should. Sure he's wrong about a war starting in two years (the war actually starts in five years), but he is right about the war. And we sympathize with Pritchard when he says that he wants to "get away from wars and censorship and statism and conscription and government control of this and that, of art and science!" (1), since that turns out to be the reason a lot of people head off to Mars.

The problem seems to be that Pritchard doesn't want to wait for the colonists. He wants to be one of the explorers—but we know just from his concerns that he's no explorer. He doesn't go to find something new; he just wants to run away from the old. And, by the end of the Chronicles, we have to face that running away to Mars isn't an escape from all these problems, as Stendahl learns in "Usher II." Censorship finds its way to Mars, and maybe one day nuclear war will too. (Odds are good.)