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Free Study Guide for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury-MonkeyNotes
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ESSAY TOPICS / BOOK REPORT IDEAS

1. How would the stories of The Martian Chronicles be different if they adhered more stringently to actual scientific findings? Choose two or three major stories as specific examples.

2. Create a timeline of events on Earth based on the information in all the stories. How is it a reflection of contemporary concerns - that is, at the time Bradbury wrote the stories?

3. Consider the different difficulties the first four expeditions faced on Mars. How can these four stories be considered a microcosm of the major thematic concerns of The Martian Chronicles? What can be said of each of the captains in these expeditions and what they represent?

4. Examine the story bridges as individual pieces in their own right. Do they work well poetically? Thematically? If a reader were to encounter these bridges without the larger stories, what picture of Mars would emerge?

5. Look at one of the two stories later omitted from the British edition of the book - "Up in the Air" and "Usher II" - and explain why they may not fit in as well as other stories in the collection. What do they contribute to the collection that is productive? How do they detract? Was it ultimately correct to omit these stories?


6. Examine the use of humor in Bradbury's writing. What kinds of humor does he employ most often, and what does that tell us of his view on human nature? Consider how humor is used to leaven the seriousness of a situation, as in "The Earth Men" and "The Silent Towns".

7. How credible is the notion that people will return to a war-ravaged earth when it is threatened by world war? What assumptions does

Bradbury make with such a premise, and how true do they hold today?
8. Consider how the term "Martian" is employed in different ways and for different people in the book. What does this tell us about the nature of identity, especially in relation to political and cultural loyalties? How does it contract to other ways people identify themselves in the book?

9. Explore how Mars works as a character in its own right. If you were to describe it as a personality in the book, what kind of attributes would it have? And how would it contrast to Earth as a presence in the book?

10. What do we learn about native Martian culture from these stories? How are they a reflection of other indigenous peoples who suffered at the hands of colonization? Draw specific analogies where possible.

COMMENT ON THE STUDY OF LITERATURE

The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.

In this booknote, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours; so is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.

Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, these literature notes will help you to accomplish that goal.

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