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The Illustrated Man discussion > "The Highway" by Ray Bradbury

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is our discussion of the short story....

" The Highway " by Ray Bradbury

From the anthology The Illustrated Man collection by Ray Bradbury. See The Illustrated Man anthology discussion hub for more info on the anthology and pointers to discussion of its other stories.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

This very short story suggests to those who have little, the "end of the world" isn't a big deal.

I'm not sure if this is Bradbury's takes on Thoreau (don't get to liking that technology, it's no good for you and some apocalypse may take it all away) or poverty (freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.). Civilization has literally passed Hernando by along The Highway, and old man river keeps on rolling along.

1950 is the very early days of the Cold War, when people were just getting used to the idea of the atom bomb. He beat Nevil Shute by 7 years and even "Duck & Cover" by a year.

The setting is intentionally ambiguous. It's a valley, they grow corn, and there's a jungle nearby. (Hard to tell if they speak Spanish, though the name Hernando and the constant use of "señor" suggests maybe?) One might presume central or south America? Hard to guess what Bradbury thinks is the target there.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) This one felt fragmentary to me, like the beginning of a larger story. Bradbury does seem to excel at showing the effect on an individual that a larger event or calamity might bring. Bradbury's stories feel more personal that way, sort of like an antimatter version of Arthur C. Clarke who was more interested in the idea or event than in the effect on individuals.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Randy wrote: "Bradbury does seem to excel at showing the effect on an individual that a larger event or calamity might bring. Bradbury's stories feel more personal that way,..."

though in this case the effect of a huge calamity (atomic war, practically the end of the world) seems almost zero for this Hernando. "What do you mean, 'the world'?" Doesn't look like anything is ending on this farm.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) G33z3r wrote: "though in this case the effect of a huge calamity (atomic war, practically the end of the world) seems almost zero for this Hernando."

You're right, Hernando is focused only on his day to day existence and the larger political events of the world seem irrelevant to him. It's worth noting that in many of these stories Bradbury finds himself swimming upstream from the Gernsbackian optimism of the period, adopting instead a more cynical view of what the future might bring that would later be fleshed out in the New Wave period of the 60s-70s.


message 6: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2818 comments Question - why did tourists keep coming by to take his picture? Is it because he's living some traditional lifestyle without technology so they think he's quaint? At first I thought he was someone special but seems not. I like how his main technological advancements come when he gets a tire and a hubcap to add to his tools.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Andrea wrote: "Question - why did tourists keep coming by to take his picture? Is it because he's living some traditional lifestyle without technology so they think he's quaint? ..."

I think it's much the same way people passing through want to vid Amish.


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