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Lecture 23

ENG 208 Lecture Notes - Lecture 23: Oedipus Complex, Ray Bradbury

Course Code
ENG 208
Thomas Phillips

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Lecture 23: 4/13/2017
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
“Remarkable how the nursery read the thoughts in the children’s minds and created life to
fill their every desire. The children thought lions, and there were lions. The children
thought zebras, and there were zebras. Sun – sun. Giraffes – giraffes. Death and death”
o“Death thoughts. They were awfully young…for death thoughts. Or, no, you were
never too young, really. Long before you knew what death was you were wishing
it on someone else” (Bradbury)
oIs this a true assumption?
oKids don’t really know what death is; they don’t really understand it
oBut do the kids in the story understand?
oThey’ve been anesthetized to death from watching it over and over in the room
oYou could say they couldn’t ever really understand death.
Anytime they want, they can bring someone back from the dead in the
The nursery is their reality now—things are most real to them in there.
They can bring back a version of their parents that they like, and they will
be more real to the kids than the dead version of their parents.
We can think of the children as being innocent to a point, but there’s a conspiratorial
aspect to them.
o“The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical cemetery.
So silent. None of the humming hidden energy of machines waiting to function at
the tap of a button. ‘Don’t let them do it!’ cried Peter to the ceiling, as if he was
talking to the house, the nursery. ‘Don’t let Father kill everything.’ He turned to
his father. ‘Oh, I hate you!’ ‘Saying things like that won’t get you anywhere.’ ‘I
wish you were dead!’” (Bradbury)
oThey knew what they were doing—they knew the outcome
Related to the Oedipus myth
oOedipus’ father received a prophecy that his son would marry his wife and kill
him. The father sends Oedipus away but then he comes back when he’s older, not
realizing those are his parents, and the prophecy comes true.
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