Study Guide

The Martian Chronicles Way in the Middle of the Air

By Ray Bradbury

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Way in the Middle of the Air

  • (Publishing history snack: This story appeared in the original edition but was removed in 1997. It's all about racism and uses some unpleasant words, so, you know, enjoy.)
  • Welcome to a small Southern town, circa 1950.
  • Samuel Teece and some good old boys are sitting around the porch of Teece's hardware store, talking about how the black people of America are going to Mars.
  • You'd think Teece would be happy about this, since he's totally racist, but in fact he's really just bummed that he's not going to have people to boss around anymore. 
  • Well, Teece does boss around his wife, Mrs. Clara Teece. (She's upset their servant Lucinda is leaving for Mars.)
  • So that's at least one bright spot for Samuel: if he can't boss around black people, he can still be a jerk to his wife. 
  • Anyway, there's this guy Belter, a black man who owes Teece some money. 
  • When Teece demands that Belter stay to work off his debt, other black people from his town raise the money to pay the debt right then. So, no bossing Belter around.
  • Then Teece tries to keep his employee Silly here on Earth (since Silly signed a contract). This time, it's the white guys to the rescue, as they gang up on Teece and convince him to let Silly go. 
  • Silly drives off, getting the last word in as he asks Teece what he's going to do at night now.
  • (Teece's favorite nighttime activity is lynching and terrorizing black people.)
  • Teece won't stand for that type of insubordination, and he races on down the street to catch him.
  • But, the streets are blocked, and Teece can't stop the immigration. Gee, that's a shame.
  • Teece does manage to pat himself on the back that at least Silly still calls him "Mister."

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