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The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Easy-peasy. "Martian": takes place on Mars. "Chronicles": record of history, especially things that happened in a particular place. "Martian" is self-explanatory, and "Chronicles" means that this is a record of history and that it's told in the order it happens. (Chronos is a Greek word meaning something like "clock time"—not that the Greeks had clocks, but meaning time as we experience it in the world.)

Okay, so much for the title of the collection. The individual titles could take a lot of work, so let's just look at a few:

"The Green Morning": Well, probably something to do with Driscoll's trees, because that's what happens. He wakes up one morning, and Mars is green. So, this title is pretty descriptive, and it doesn't tell us much about what to think.

"The Locusts": Okay, this has a little more personality. Locusts are little, bitey, nasty creatures (nasty if you're a farmer; pretty tasty if you're a seagull). So, by titling the story "Locusts," Bradbury is telling us that this new shipment of settlers is maybe not going to be so great for Mars.

"The Off Season": This is a cruel little joke, because it turns out that he's just set up a hot dog stand in Mars's off-season—since everyone is heading back to Mars. Because this is what his wife says to him right as they watch everyone leaving, we get the sense that the narrator is happy about Sam losing all his business.

The point is, the titles of the short stories tend be mostly descriptive, but only after you've read the story. They don't tell you what's going to happen; but, looking back at them after you've read the story, they tell you what Bradbury wants you to take away. Maybe this is why some readers feel like he's a little too preachy—he's definitely controlling your reading experience.

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