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Free Study Guide for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury-MonkeyNotes
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THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

Bradbury takes different themes in the course of The Martian Chronicles and develops it from different angles: the perspective on loneliness in "The Silent Towns" is quite different from that in "The Long Years", which in turn has a different take on the routines of daily life from that of "There Will Come Soft Rains". In this manner, Bradbury makes full use of the fractured nature of the short story collection format, playing with different perspectives to give a fuller sense of what human nature is capable.

The main theme is that of colonization, and on the face of it Bradbury is highly critical of the project both in his story and in its real-life historical basis, the European conquest of the Americas. In the name of greed and power, one race stamps out another and in doing so corrupts a planet. Bradbury seems to consider such actions typical of human progress, of what happens when certain aspects of culture - science especially, but also economic concerns - outpaces other aspects, such as art and spirituality.

However, there is also a positive aspect to the human spirit, one that emphasizes exploration as opposed to colonization: from this angle, Mars is like other lands for émigrés, providing a chance for fresh starts and pastures new. This is especially clear in "The Million Year Picnic", where a family escapes a war-ravaged Earth and declares themselves Martians - much in the same way families fled war-ravaged Europe and declared themselves Americans when settling in the United States.


AUTHOR'S STYLE

Bradbury has a straightforward writing style that seeks to evoke a sense of wonder through two seemingly opposed concerns: the careful construction of mundane details and a sharp eye for vividly capturing imaginative flights of fancy. The former emphasizes the nostalgia for small town life that is one hallmark of his work, the latter emphasizes the fiery imagination that is the other hallmark. Combined, they create Bradbury's signature style, finding wonder in everyday life by using fantastic / unrealistic elements to highlight the vagaries of human nature.

Often, this means the stories are built on simply constructed sentences - declarative, often distanced from the subject it describes - with dramatically timed lapses into a more florid, poetic writing style when a character comes to grips with a certain dilemma or experience. To help build on the more expansive passages of his writing, there is some tendency to call upon past works of literature to add a sense of perspective. Bradbury was ambitious and did not want to be constrained by the perceived ghetto of category fiction, and his erudite handling of his subject matter helps make his work more overtly "literary" and profound.

As stated in the plot structure analyses, the short story collection format poses certain problems for both author and reader. One way that Bradbury helps make the story coherent is by keeping his style of writing fairly consistent from story to story. However, there is a clear stylistic shift in the vignettes that connect the major stories in the collection. These bridge pieces serve two main functions: first, they work as prose poems that allow a more abstract understanding of the events; second, they fill in the blanks in the over-arching plot of the Earthian colonization of Mars. They not only reinforce the sense of progress in colonization, then, they also add a kind of awestruck poetry to the proceedings.

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