The Pedestrian Essay Example
The Pedestrian Essay Example

The Pedestrian Essay Example

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The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury Utopia: an ideal place (fictional) This short story is an example of Dystopian fiction – dealing with a society that embodies a flawed perfection – achieved at a cost. In the story, Ray Bradbury criticizes a society that resembles a police state or totalitarian regime, with the only representative of the regime being the police car. Mead, the protagonist, is a non-conformist who commits the "crime" of enjoying walking, a basic and wholesome activity.

The text highlights the oppressive nature of the regime and its impact on humanity, as seen through the prohibition and abandonment of sidewalks. The soulless society is further accentuated through imagery related to death, such as "dark windows," "graveyard-like" experiences, "tomb-like" buildings, and "grey phantoms."

The text illustrates the contrasting experiences of Mead's walk and the society


he resides in. Mead's stroll is characterized by vibrant sensory imagery, utilizing clear natural visuals that arouse the senses and exhibit his delight in simple pleasures and sensations. The chilly November air, adorned with "crystal frost," causes his lungs to feel like they are "blazing like a Christmas tree inside," while the branches appear to be laden with unseen snow. In comparison, the depicted society remains passive and uninformed, potentially influenced by subpar television programs controlled by the State, as evidenced by the Police Car's disbelief when Mead mentions not possessing a TV.

The population's minds have been numbed by the constant and unquestioning consumption of television. Only Mead can perceive the shallowness and predictability of the shows: "Where are the cowboys hurrying?" "Various murders" "A comedian stumbling off stage." There is no intellectual stimulation for the population here.

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Despite the abundance of channels, there is a glaring absence of any political program that might question the government, potentially hinting at brainwashing.

The population is described as incapable of intellectually challenging the government, portrayed as automations without independent thought or information. The government's actions are suggested to chain and dull the minds of the population. Informed, intelligent, and alert individuals would be seen as a threat and would ask difficult questions. Mead is the sole remaining individual of this kind, and his secretive walks at night presumably serve as a means to find others like him.

Contrary to the general population, Mead's rebellion, if one can label it as such, is relatively inactive. It seems that he has come to terms with or surrendered himself to the reality that he can no longer pursue his profession and appears defeated by the conclusion of the narrative. His distinctiveness and independent mindset are emphasized through organic depictions. The comparison "solely his silhouette gliding akin to a hawk's shadow" connotes both the concept of a hunter and an illustration of boundless liberation.

The individuality and sense of emptiness that he feels in a society that is effectively dead is emphasized by the fact that he could imagine himself upon the centre of a plain, a wintry, windless Arizona desert. Both the rest of the population and the city itself are depicted as being dead. The buildings and city exhibit architectural decay - with the "buckling concrete walk" implying decay and "tomb-like buildings" suggesting those inside are dead. Even Nature appeared to be outraged by the setting and seemingly attempted to bury it, as

"cement was vanishing under flowers and grass".

The police car is associated with harshness, coldness, threats, oppression, and the predator-prey relationship. It "flashed a fierce white cone of light upon him" and smelled like riveted steel and harsh antiseptic. These images reflect the nature of the regime represented by the car. The frequent use of metallic, robotic, and mechanical language further emphasizes this connection. The voice of the police car also sounds robotic with its short, sharp commands that contrast with Mead's warmer and more personal replies.

The interrogation in this dystopian society reveals the nature of the regime. The regime shows no recognition of Mead's profession and finds it hard to believe that he does not possess a TV set, suggesting a strong element of state control. In this society, anything related to the arts - such as creativity, beauty, and the senses - is not acknowledged. Only manufactured things are given recognition. Books and writing are not accepted in this regime either. Similarly, the police car fails to understand that Mead was simply walking for his own pleasure. The repetition of "walking" emphasizes the malfunctioning of the car's brain, as it cannot comprehend that someone would engage in an activity purely for enjoyment without a specific reason. Mead, on the other hand, demonstrates wry humor, a human quality, when he responds to being asked if he is married with the statement "No, nobody wanted me," accompanied by a smile. It is ironic that Mead is being taken to an asylum called the "Psychiatric Centre for Research on Regressive Tendencies." This choice of words is deliberately official-sounding and serves as a euphemism

to mask the true purpose of such a facility, reminiscent of Soviet practices.

The use of asylums to "re-educate" those who opposed the state's political ideals involved brainwashing individuals until they accepted the beliefs desired by the state. It is ironic that in this society, Mead – the only sane man – is being sent to an asylum, symbolizing something significant. During their journey to the asylum, they pass Mead’s house, which prominently stands out with its bright lights amidst the city's darkness. The electric light serves as a representation of hope and vibrant life, although this hope quickly fades as the car disappears back into the darkness. Mead's capture is portrayed in stages, contrasting his identity as a free-spirited hawk with his response to being caught resembling a moth drawn to a bright light. Overall, the structure of this short story mirrors its uneventful nature.

Despite the lack of features in the structure, which mirrors the dreary landscape, the police car's interrogation creates tension and transforms the mundane walk through the gray town into an intense episode. The short story reaches another hopeful climax towards the end with the powerful symbol of the illuminated house, representing hope. However, this moment of hope quickly diminishes as we realize that it is just a solitary point amidst the pervasive darkness, bringing us back to a dark anti-climax.


  1. The individual in a totalitarian state is distrusted and destroyed.
  2. Bradbury believes that such a police state is against the natural laws of Mankind - people should be free to express their feelings.
  3. He warns

about the dangers of state-controlled media, which can manipulate and brainwash a nation. State-controlled TV programs are essentially propaganda.

  • He emphasizes the dangers of a society that is passive and unquestioning.
  • There are veiled references to 'psychiatric hospitals'.
  • The overall tone is pessimistic; the hope is extinguished in the darkness.
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