Study Guide

The Martian Chronicles The Martian

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The Martian

  • Lafe and Anna LaFarge are an old married couple. We know they're old because this story follows the interchapter entitled "The Old Ones."
  • They're 60 and 55, which actually sounds a lot more like vigorous middle age than "time-to-retire-to-Mars" age. 
  • The LaFarges are on Mars to forget their dead son Tom.
  • But that proves difficult when Tom shows up, the same 14-year-old he was when he died of pneumonia.
  • Anna is worried at first, but she soon accepts him as her son. Women, right?
  • But Lafe guesses that Tom is one of those telepathic Martians who disguised himself as Tom so they would love him. 
  • And they do.
  • The only problem is that when Tom gets close to other people, he starts to change his appearance. 
  • So when Tom gets close to the Spaulding family, he looks like their lost daughter Lavinia and forgets all about being Tom.
  • Lafe goes to steal back Tom (now known as Lavinia), but Tom runs through town and soon everyone sees him as who they want him to be—the lost husband, the lost child, the lost criminal. 
  • Trying to be everything to everyone kills Tom, which is probably some sort of lesson.

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