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Free Study Guide for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury-MonkeyNotes
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The primary setting of the stories in The Martian Chronicles is Mars. However, it is a Mars borne out of popular imagination more than scientific fact, a reflection of Ray Bradbury's desire for allegorical power over scientific extrapolation. For example, by the time Bradbury wrote his stories of Martian exploration, the scientific belief in canals had fallen out of favor; however, as Bradbury is more a science fantasist than a "hard" science fiction writer (that is, one who adheres strictly to rules and laws established by ), he kept the idea of canals for his stories.

Several stories take place on Earth, specifically the United States of America. In The Martian Chronicles, the United States of the late 20th century is powerful and technologically developed enough to send explorers to Mars.

CHARACTER LIST

Characters in specific stories are listed in the plot summary for each story. Given the allegorical nature of Bradbury's stories, the major "characters" are communities and planets, not actual individuals; under Minor Characters are the individual characters most important to the overall plot's thematic development.


Major Characters

Earthians of the United States

Explore, settle, and colonize Mars. As the Americas were explored and settled by Europeans at the expense of indigenous peoples, so the United States now explores and colonizes the planet Mars in a similar manner.

Martians

The native beings of Mars, wiped out by chickenpox from Earthian explorers, though a few of their number survive.

Mars

While not a person, the actual planet and landscape of Mars as a major character in the book: desolate and forbidding to Earthian explorers and settlers, it holds memories of the native Martians in the cities still nestled on its surface.

Other Earthians

Other nations on Earth, unable to explore and colonize Mars due to war.

Earth

As the planet whose native inhabitants have the hubris to invade its neighbor, Earth is depicted as a planet that is sick, that needs to renew itself. In a sense, it does exactly that when humanity destroys itself in atomic war and the planet cleanses itself to begin anew.

Minor Characters

Nathaniel York

Captain of the first Earthian expedition.

Jonathan Williams

Captain of the second expedition.

John Black

Captain of the third expedition.

Wilder

Captain of the fourth expedition, his views on Martian colonization led to assignments that took him further out of the solar system.

Jeff Spender

Archaeologist of the fourth expedition who kills his fellow crewmen to save Mars but is killed himself. He embodies the values of the dead Martians and Martian culture.

Hathaway

Physician / geologist of the fourth expedition who discovers that chickenpox brought by Earthians killed off the Martians. He's stranded on Mars after the exodus back to Earth.

Sam Parkhill

Crewman of the fourth expedition who embodies the worst colonizing impulses of the Earthians. His desire to establish a hot dog stand on Mars is only thwarted by the exodus back to Earth when an atomic world war begins.

William Thomas

Brings his family to Mars right before Earthians destroy themselves in worldwide atomic war.

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