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Free Study Guide for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury-MonkeyNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

OCTOBER 2002: The Shore

CHARACTERS

No one specific.

CONFLICT

Protagonist - The first waves of settlers, from rural areas and used to the silence and vastness that Mars offers.

Antagonist - Subsequent waves of settlers, now from urban areas.

Climax - The urban settlers follow after the initial waves, both awed by what they experience and better able to make the transition after the first wave have prepared the way.

Outcome - The colonization of Mars by Earthians continues afoot.

THEMES

Again, the progress of colonization. Also, the impact of Earthian affairs on the settlement: Americans are the only ones involved in the colonization, indicating wars have made it impossible for other nations to follow.

Summary

The first waves of settlers are from rural areas and adjust easily to the desolation of Mars. What should have followed were settlers from other nations, but those other nations were immersed in wars. As a result, the following waves were also American but now from urban areas, better able to adjust as settlements grow and the loneliness is not as powerful.

Notes

As with many other vignettes, this echoes the settlement of America by European settlers.


FEBRUARY 2003: Interim

CHARACTERS

No one specific.

CONFLICT

Protagonist - The Earthian settlers, who continue to arrive and mold Mars.

Antagonist - Mars itself.

Climax - Settlement by the Earthians continue as Mars becomes home to more Earthian towns.

Outcome - The progress of colonization continues apace.

THEMES

Again the progress of colonization: this time, the arrival of religion and art to better round out the human experience in this new world.

Summary

Lumber is sent to Mars as a town is erected, with churches and artists now making their mark. It seems as if a town from Iowa has been dropped on the face of Mars.

Notes

The reference to an Earthian town being recreated in Mars echoes "The Third Expedition" but the threat is now reversed: it is Mars at the mercy of Earthians and not Earthians at the mercy of Martians. There is also an odd, unintended disjunction as the notion of a beachcomber in an Iowa town seems odd, at best.

APRIL 2003: The Musicians

CHARACTERS

Unnamed boys - Warned not to play in the Martian cities, they do so anyway.

CONFLICT

Protagonist - The boys, who are warned not to visit the Martian cities.

Antagonist - The parents, who make this warning.

Climax - The boys go, ignoring direct orders, and have fun playing with the bones of dead Martians.

Outcome - The parents discover what happened and punish them.

THEMES

The romanticizing of youthful experiences, with its innocent sense of discovery and wonder; and the defilement of an ancient culture and peoples by ruthless, callous colonizers. Note that Bradbury places no judgment on the behavior of the boys, which exposes a tension between the two thematic strains in his work. Is this simple child's play, or desecration on top of genocide? Is this an exploration into imagination and a world of awe, or the first step in desensitizing children to the plight of others?

Summary

The parents of some Earthian boys are warned not to go to the ancient cities. They go regardless of such warnings, playing with the bones of dead Martians while pretending to be musicians. The boys return home, their deeds discovered on the soles of their shoes, and they are punished.

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