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Bradbury Classic Stories 1: From the Golden Apples of the Sun and R Is for... Summary & Study Guide Description
Bradbury Classic Stories 1: From the Golden Apples of the Sun and R Is for... Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Bradbury Classic Stories 1: From the Golden Apples of the Sun and R Is for... by Ray Bradbury.
McDunn, appears in The Fog Horn
McDunn is the lighthouse keeper in the story 'The Fog Horn.' He has been here a very long time and has become used to the constant loneliness and isolation of the job. He is a little bitter and seems to have either loved and lost someone in the past, or has loved someone but was not loved back. He relates to the monster's loneliness and despair, and he feels sorry for it. When the lighthouse is knocked down he specifies for it to be rebuilt with reinforced concrete, but he does not tell anyone else about the monster. This is perhaps because he does not want others to search for the creature and harm or disturb it, or perhaps it is because he wants it to be his special secret.
Cecy, appears in The April Witch
Cecy is a young adolescent witch in the story 'The April Witch.' She is on the cusp of growing up and longs to know what it is like to be in love. She has the power to move her consciousness into other living things, so she decides to explore love through the body and eyes of another young girl. She enters the mind of Ann Leary and begins to control her, forcing her to go to a dance with a boy called Tom. She does not care whether Ann wants to go to the party with Tom or not, as she is very focused on her own desires and needs. She is willful and full of passion and determination, as well as the energy of youth. She attempts to interact pleasantly with Tom, but is frustrated when Ann resists her at every step of the way.
Cecy quickly finds herself falling in love with Tom, perhaps because she is fascinated by these interactions that she has never experienced before. She comes across as very young and naive. She is desperate for Tom to know her as she really is, so she takes the risk of telling him how to find her. However, she does not tell him the whole truth, sensibly not wanting to scare him away or to get her and her family into trouble. By telling Tom how to find her, however, she is risking giving up everything that makes her who she is. She clearly loves her magical powers and is grateful for them, but she is willing to give them up to be with Tom. The reader never finds out what comes of this, so it is never clear whether Cecy really is in love, or whether she is being a little foolish. Cecy represents the eager earnestness of youth, when a person is passionate but naive. Cecy could very well come to regret her decisions in later life, when she is older and wiser, but this story does not deal with that. Cecy's story is about youth and hope.
Janice, appears in The Wilderness
Janice is a young woman in 'The Wilderness' whose fiancé has moved to Mars to start a new life there. Janice has the decision of moving to Mars to be with him, or of staying on Earth. At first she appears to have chosen to stay, but in this story she changes her mind. She is terrified at the prospect of moving and starting afresh, and of how strange and different Mars will be. She does not like the idea of difficulty and of struggling to make a new home. She is also frightened of space-flight itself, of the vast emptiness outside the ship. However, her mind has been changed by her fiancé's gift. He has built a house for her on Mars that is an exact replica of her house on Earth. He is luring her there with something familiar that will convince her that Mars does not have to be completely new and strange. Janice appreciates this enormously, and it helps her to think of everything that she will gain if she goes to Mars. Mars is where he fiancé is, and he has built her a home. Mars is her future and Earth is her past. When she realizes this, she decides that she must pluck up the courage to go.
Janice comes across as quite an emotional and sensitive girl. She is easily frightened by the idea of anything different, is moved to tears when she explores her old town one last time, and is overwhelmed when she speaks to her fiancé on the phone. She thinks of all the people of the past who have, like her, moved to be with their men in new frontier towns. She compares her own fears and feelings with theirs. Janice can come across as quite an irritating character for modern readers, as she represents an older and antiquated idea of a helpless, emotional woman who can only follow her man.
Leonora, appears in The Wilderness
In 'The Wilderness' a young woman called Leonora is also moving to Mars with Janice. She appears to be Janice's sister. She remains much calmer and more composed than Janice, despite the fact that Janice is deciding her future on a whim and that Janice seems to be quite changeable. Leonora helps to keep Janice focused on what matters, and joins her in exploring their town one last time before leaving. She is also frightened by the idea of space travel, but seems less daunted by the idea of life on Mars than Janice is. Leonora recognizes how clever Janice's fiancé has been for building her a house that is a replica of her house on Earth.
William Acton, appears in The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl
William Acton is the murderer in the story 'The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.' He kills Huxley after finding out that the other man is running away with his wife. This murder is committed in rage on the spur of the moment, and not planned, meaning that Acton has not prepared himself for keeping his identity a secret. He suddenly thinks about fingerprints and realizes that if he does not wipe them away he will incriminate himself. He begins trying to retrace his steps and wipe everything he thinks he may have touched. This soon becomes an obsession, and he begins to clean less and less likely objects. Soon he is wiping things that it would be impossible for him to have got his fingerprints on. He is driving himself mad with his guilt and paranoia. He sees fingerprints everywhere, and imagines that they are multiplying behind his back as he tries to get rid of them. The fingerprints appear to have become manifestations of his guilt, as they simply will not go away. Trying to cover them up only makes the matter worse, just as trying to cover up his crime makes him feel more guilty for it. In the end, Acton is driven completely insane and seems to forget his true purpose in polishing objects. He goes over the entire house, cleaning everything, even in the attic. When the police arrive, he is still there, but all he now seems to care about is the cleaning, as if he can somehow clean away the crime itself.
Donald Huxley, appears in The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl
Donald Huxley is the murder victim in 'The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.' He is killed by Acton when Acton finds out that Huxley is intending to run away with his wife. Huxley is obviously quite a rich and arrogant man, and it is apparent that he does not care about Acton's feelings at all. He boats about how he is taking Acton's wife away from him.
Emperor Yuan, appears in The Flying Machine
Emperor Yuan is the emperor of China in 'The Flying Machine.' He lives in a palace near the Great Wall of China. When a servant tells him that a man is flying, he calmly comes out to look. He is amazed, but keeps a neutral expression and commands respect at all times. He is obviously a man used to ruling a country and having to maintain an air of quiet, dignified control at all times.
When he sees the flying machine he commands the inventor to come down and talks to him about his invention. When he is satisfied that no-one else knows about it, he orders the inventor killed. Again, he remains completely calm, and comes across as extremely cold and uncaring. The man pleads with him, and Yuan explains that it is not the invention or the inventor that he fears, but what other people will do with the flying machine if word should get out. The inventor is amazed when he hears this, as it never occurred to him that anyone could use his invention for evil. He seems a little more accepting of his death now, as if he trusts so completely in the reasoning of his emperor.
When the execution has been carried out, the reader finally sees a little emotion from Yuan. He seems sad and regretful that he has had to make this decision, but he does not show any remorse. He simply expresses unhappiness that he is the one who was forced to order the execution. He does not question whether he has done the right thing, telling himself that one man's life is worth nothing when compared with his whole country and every person in it. Yuan seems to feel the weight of the great responsibility of being ruler, but he accepts it without complaint. He looks at his model garden, which for him represents his kingdom. In it he sees great beauty, and he knows that sometimes he has to destroy one beautiful thing to keep the beauty of the whole intact. He must think about the good of all, and calculate in terms of millions, rather than place too much importance on individuals.
Yuan can come across as an evil man for having so little regard for a human life, or as a tragic man for having to make this decision despite wanting to be a kind ruler. He is certainly a pragmatic man, thinking in terms of consequences rather than getting carried away by the beauty of something. By choosing to kill the inventor and suppress the invention, he shows that he places less value on freedom and expression than on safety. He sees his reasoning as supreme and regards himself as the man with the responsibility of controlling everything around him. On the other hand, he has obviously chosen to kill as few people as possible. A more cautious emperor may have executed the servant too, as well as the farmer who potentially witnessed the man flying. Yuan avoids this. He also shows a little distaste at what he is forced to do. Yuan is therefore quite an ambiguous character. He is neither entirely evil nor good, and it is up to the reader to decide whether he is right or wrong.
The Mandarins, appears in The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind
In 'The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind' the Mandarins are the rulers of the towns. The Mandarin of the first town comes across as a slightly useless and over-emotional man who is not very good in a crisis.
The Mandarin's Daughter, appears in The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind
In 'The Golden Kite, The Silver Wind' the Mandarin of the first town is advised by his daughter. She is much wiser and more capable than him, and she proves that she can be quick thinking. She is also very humble, as she is content to let her father take all the credit for her decisions. At the end of the story, it is she who saves the towns by suggesting compromise.
Mr. Ramirez, appears in I See You Never
In 'I See You Never' Mr. Ramirez is an illegal Mexican immigrant in the USA. When he is taken by the police to be deported, he says one last goodbye to his landlady. She remarks that he has always been a good tenant, and he seems extremely upset to leave her. He tells her that he does not want to go as he now thinks of the USA as his home.
Mrs. O'Brian, appears in I See You Never
Mrs. O'Brian is the landlady in 'I See You Never.' When Mr. Ramirez says goodbye to her she reacts with shock and sadness, as she did not know he was in the country illegally. She realizes that she will miss him, and thinks about the time she visited Mexico, reflecting on how different it is from the USA. She knows there is nothing she can do to help Mr. Ramirez, and she feels very helpless when she realizes that she will never see him again.
The Embroiderers, appears in Embroidery
In 'Embroidery' a group of women sit embroidering as they wait for a mysterious experiment to take place. They are worried that the experiment will destroy their world, and they mourn all the little things in life that they will never be able to do anymore. They represent the ordinary people who are affected by big government and military decisions. They are frightened, but they have no say in what is happening and are powerless to stop it.
Big Poe, appears in The Big Black and White Game
In the story 'The Big Black and White Game,' Big Poe is an African American who sells popcorn on the grounds of a hotel, near the lake. The local children like to buy popcorn off him and are fond of him. The white men and women of the community, however, disapprove of the black people, thinking them inferior. At the baseball game, Big Poe plays well and is beating the white men. When he sees the negative reactions of the white women watching from the stands, he realizes that this could lead to violence so he begins to lose on purpose. However, when a white man called Jimmie Cosner knocks into him on purpose and injures his foot, then proceeds to insult all the black men, Big Poe is angry. He takes revenge. He deliberately throws the ball at the back of Jimmie's head, knocking him out. He then limps away quickly before the rest of the white men can turn on him.
Jimmie Cosner, appears in The Big Black and White Game
In 'The Big Black and White Game' Jimmie Cosner is a white man playing in the baseball game. He resents the fact that the black men are winning, insults them, and boasts that he will beat them. He does not like his pride being wounded, and he injures Big Poe's foot in his desperate attempt to win. He is not at all apologetic for this. Big Poe takes revenge by throwing the ball at the back of Jimmie's head.
The White Women at the Ball Game, appears in The Big Black and White Game
In 'The Big Black and White Game' the white women at the baseball game watch from separate bleachers from the black women. They cheer on their men, and gossip about the strange customs of the black people. When they see that the white men are losing, they immediately become very disparaging of the black men, and show embarrassment that their own men are not winning. They clearly think they are superior to the black people and they discourage their children from cheering for Big Poe and the others. When Big Poe throws the ball at Jimmie's head, the women react with extreme fear, even exclaiming that the black people might have razors. They quickly hurry their children home. The white women's racism appears to be built on a superior attitude as well as fear of the black people, who they think are little more than savages. This was a common attitude at the time in which this story was written, in 1945.
Cora, appears in The Great Wide World Over There
Cora is an old woman living in a very small, isolated community in the mountains, in the story 'The Great Wide World Over There.' She has never learned to read or write, and so sending letters is impossible for her. She thinks of letters and writing as an almost magical thing that would allow her to connect with the outside world and so feel less isolated. When her nephew comes to stay she plans to get him to teach her to read and write. However, she becomes too caught up in the excitement of having him write letters for her. She doesn't care what the letters are about, just as long as she is sending and receiving them. They find addresses in a magazine and write to them, usually requesting free samples or information. When the replies come Cora is delighted. They make her feel special, connected and important. She makes a great show of receiving them so that Mrs. Brabbam, her neighbor, will see that she is now connected and intellectual.
Later, Cora realizes that she was being a little vain and self-important. She feels sorry for Mrs. Brabbam, who has been faking receiving letters to try to give her life meaning. Cora asks her nephew to write letters for Mrs. Brabbam too, wanting to bring this gift to someone else. Cora shows here that she can be kind and thoughtful to a woman who is not exactly her friend. Cora thinks of Mrs. Brabbam even when she realizes her own tragedy, that she never did learn to read and write while her nephew was here. Her nephew leaves, and once again Cora is unable to write or read letters. Slowly, the letters stop coming, and Cora is left in the same position as when she started, only a little worse this time because she knows exactly what she is missing.
Benjy, appears in The Great Wide World Over There
Benjy is Cora's nephew in 'The Great Wide World Over There.' He comes to visit her and she is excited to see him. He has had an education and so he knows how to read and write. Cora immediately puts him to use sending letters and reading the replies to her. She is having so much fun she forgets to ask him to teach her to read and write too. Benjy seems to have endless patience for his aunt and treats her very kindly. He understands her need to feel connected through letters and never tries to belittle her for being so awed by such a normal thing. However, Benjy has a life of his own to lead, and he cannot stay with them long. At the end of the story he leaves.
Mrs. Brabbam, appears in The Great Wide World Over There
Mrs. Brabbam, like Cora, seems to feel isolated in their small community. She elevates herself and makes herself seem important by pretending to receive letters. In reality, she is actually putting old letters that were never even addressed to her into her mailbox, and taking the same ones out each morning. She enjoys showing off to Cora in this way, and making Cora feel small in comparison. When Cora realizes what she has done she enjoys getting her own back by making a big deal out of receiving her own letters. When Mrs. Brabbam sees the mail van arrive, which has never been this way before, she knows that her pretence has been found out. She never comes out of the house in the mornings again and avoids Cora. Cora realizes that she has hurt Mrs. Brabbam by taking away the one thing that gave her a sense of pride. She understands that although Mrs. Brabbam may have been trying to make Cora feel small, this was actually because Mrs. Brabbam is just as lonely as Cora, and feels just as insignificant in the world. By the end of the story, Cora knows that they are both in the same boat.
Berty's Wife, appears in Powerhouse
In 'Powerhouse' a woman travels with her husband Berty to visit her dying mother. Berty's wife is a sensible and practical woman who has no time for or interest in religion. She has never had to deal with anything particularly hard in her life before, as she has a loving and healthy family, and a happy life. This is the first time she has had to deal with the fact that people she loves will die. She is overcome by it and unsure how to cope. She is used to being strong and does not like to show how weak and vulnerable she is at the moment, but her husband understands. She sees Benjy's own quiet, confident faith and wishes she could understand religion in the same way. She thinks that it would comfort her, but she is not sure how to approach it. While they stay in the powerhouse overnight, she has a religious experience. She feels as though she has left her body and travelled down the powerlines to see different people and families, some people dying and others being born. From this she sees that all life is connected and in balance. This helps her to feel less alone. She is connected to everyone else, and her problems and fears are the same as countless others'. She realizes that this revelation is a form of faith, and that she has now found religion. If comforts her, and helps her to feel more calm and accepting.
Mr. Villanazul, appears in En La Noche
In 'En La Noche' Mr. Villanazul is the man who suggests talking to Mrs. Navarrez and comforting her, in order to get her to be quiet. He may also be suggesting that one of them try to seduce her to take her mind off her absent husband. When the others all refuse to do this, it is left up to Mr. Villanazul. The others all praise him as a hero and a martyr for sacrificing himself to help them all sleep.
Mrs. Navarrez, appears in En La Noche
Mrs. Navarrez is a woman living in an apartment building in the story 'En La Noche.' She wails and cries constantly because her husband has left to join the army. The other people in the building have no sympathy for her and are annoyed that she is keeping them awake with her constant grief. In the end, Mr. Villanazul comes to comfort her and perhaps flirt with her a little, and this finally gets her to stop crying. She goes to sleep that night thinking what a nice man Mr. Villanazul is, never suspecting that he had ulterior motives in spending time with her.
Smith, appears in The Meadow
Smith is the night watchman of some Hollywood sets in 'The Meadow.' Each night he attempts to rebuild what the wrecking crew tore down the previous day. When he is spotted doing this, the producer, Mr. Douglas, is fetched. Smith explains to Mr. Douglas why the sets are so important to him. For Smith, the sets represent a peaceful and ideal world. The buildings of different countries and cultures lean on each other and are built so closely together that there is no room for prejudice, suspicion and hatred. Everyone is connected and in such close proximity that they are forced to get along. Smith imagines that people live here, and that destroying the sets will destroy these people's world. Smith is obviously a very fanciful and dreamy man, but he is also very passionate about what he believes in. He argues that he is not insane, as insanity is relative anyway and depends on a person's perspective. He sees an important message in the sets and is anxious to get others to hear it. Mr. Douglas recognizes his potential and asks him to help write a new movie based on his idea.
Kelly, appears in The Meadow
Kelly is the foreman of the wrecking crew that destroys the Hollywood sets during the day in 'The Meadow.' When he sees Smith rebuilding the sets one night, he is furious and demands to know what Smith is doing. Smith tries to explain, but Kelly is a very practical man who does not understand or care what Smith is trying to say. When Smith begins waving around a hammer, Kelly is concerned that Smith might be dangerous. He goes to get Mr. Douglas, the producer, and leaves the problem to him.
Mr. Douglas, appears in The Meadow
Mr. Douglas is the producer who owns the Hollywood sets in 'The Meadow.' At first he comes across as a practical man who thinks in terms of profit rather than art or meaning. However, as Smith shows him around the sets, Mr. Douglas sees Smith's point. He is not as fanciful as Smith, but he has enough imagination to see how the sets could hold an important message. He decides to make a film about it, partly for profit, but also partly to spread this important message. He comes across as just as passionate and thoughtful a man as Smith, but focusing it in a different way. He is friendly and willing to give Smith the benefit of the doubt when he first speaks to him, and later to give him a chance. However, he is also a business man. He tells Smith that once the film has been made the sets will have to be torn down, as he needs to think about the profits of his company. When he has finished discussing things with Smith, he returns to his party, going back to his big business world and leaving Smith in the Hollywood world of dreams.
The Garbage Collector, appears in The Garbage Collector
The garbage collector is the main character of the story 'The Garbage Collector.' He is content and happy with his job, as it is simple and enjoyable. However, when he is informed by the government that he will have to collect the dead bodies in the event of nuclear war, he is suddenly unhappy. He decides to quit his job. This is because the garbage collector cannot cope with the idea of treating human beings like garbage. He stresses about how he would carry out the task, wondering how he would be able to remain practical in the face of so much loss and devastation. In the end, he realizes that the idea is just too horrible for him. He cannot continue with his carefree job every day knowing that it could turn into this horror. He is also worried that if the government is planning for nuclear war, it seems likely that it will happen. He thinks his family would be safer and happier moving away from the city to a farm in the countryside.
Marianne, appears in The Great Fire
In 'The Great Fire' Marianne is a young woman who is beginning to explore relationships. She is full of passion and lust, which her uncle mistakes for love. She is young, energetic and full of youthful exuberance, which is a little too much for the older people in the household. Her energy and passion are perceived by them as scorching heat; they want things to be calmer and cooler. Marianne is also quite a wily girl. She knows her uncle would disapprove of her seeing a different boy each night, so she makes up a name and characteristics and pretends that she is seeing this one boy each time she goes out. She is having so much fun that she rarely hears when people speak to her and barely interacts with the household. She spends a lot of time daydreaming, singing and dancing around the house.
Marianne's Uncle, appears in The Great Fire
In 'The Great Fire' Marianne's uncle is referred to simply as 'father.' He is far too old for Marianne's youthful passion and disapproves of it, finding it exhausting and annoying. He cannot wait for the day she marries and moves out, so that he can have peace and quiet in the house again. When she goes out each night he encourages her, as he assumes she is seeing the same man and that she will soon marry him. He is shocked when he learns that Marianne is actually seeing a different boy each time, but he does not criticize or lecture her. He feels a little bewildered and overwhelmed by the whole thing and simply leaves Marianne to her passions without interfering.
The Captain of the 'Copa de Oro', appears in The Golden Apples of the Sun
The captain in 'The Golden Apples of the Sun' is a determined man who is intent on his mission, to fly to the Sun and bring back part of it to Earth. He sees himself as an adventurer and a hero, like Prometheus who stole the fire from the gods in Greek mythology. He sees him mission as important, not because it is really needed, but because it represents humanity's constant quest to push its boundaries and face new challenges. He is determined not to be beaten or to give up, even when things look sketchy. He is brave and keeps a level head in danger. He succeeds in his mission, and immediately begins planning the next challenge. He seems to symbolize adventure and the human spirit. He stands for humanity's ingenuity, constant advancement, and determination against all the odds.
Chris, appears in R is for Rocket
Chris is a boy in 'R is For Rocket' who longs to be an astronaut. He watches the rockets taking off and imagines what being in one would be like. He dreams about space. His schoolwork begins to suffer a little as he becomes more obsessed with the idea of a future in space, and more agitated by the fact that this could so easily not come true. His teacher understands this and thinks that Chris would be great for the astronaut program. He makes some calls and arranges it. When Chris finds out that he will be an astronaut after all he is delighted and amazed, but also sad that his friend Ralph will be left behind. He spends one last day playing as a child, understanding that he will now have to grow up and start pursuing his dream, taking responsibility for his own future. This is the time to put childhood and his care-free days behind him. Chris is living the dream that the author and many others of his generation will have had when they saw the world move into the Space Age.
Ralph, appears in R is for Rocket
Ralph is Chris' best friend in 'R is for Rocket.' Unlike the other boys, he is just as passionate about space and rockets as Chris is, and he understands his great longing. This is why Chris and Ralph are so close. Ralph is an orphan who has been brought up in a government orphanage. Because of this, he is less likely to be chosen for astronaut training. Chris mentions his name, and the government man promises to do what he can, but the reader never finds out whether Ralph was ever chosen or not. When Chris leaves to go to training school, Ralph moves in with Chris' mother and is adopted by her. Hopefully now Ralph will have a better life, and will be able to help Chris' mother deal with the long absence of her son.
The Rocket-Watching Old Man and His Wife, appears in The Beginning of the End
In 'The Beginning of the End' an old man and his wife sit on their front porch to watch a rocket taking off. Their son is onboard. They are very proud of his accomplishment and also a little fearful for his safety. The old man speculates about what space exploration means for humanity, concluding that it will mean mankind has finally found immortality.
Fiorello Bodoni, appears in The Rocket
Bodoni is a man who dreams of space flight and rockets in 'The Rocket.' He watches the rockets flying overhead but he knows he is too poor to ever go on one. However, he has saved up enough money for one member of his family to go. Deciding who will have this experience, however, proves impossible. Bodoni loves his family too much to deny any of them the dream. He quickly realizes that choosing one person will tear his family apart, but that denying everyone will lead to them all having a sense of loss for the rest of their lives. Instead, he comes up with a plan to help his family feel as though they have done something amazing. He buys an aluminum mock-up of a rocket and starts working on it. He takes his children onboard, pretending that he has made the rocket flyable. What he has actually done is make fake space-scenery that will move past the windows, to fool his children into thinking they are actually in space. This works, and his family is granted a magical experience that they will remember forever. Bodoni knows he will never experience the reality, but comes to accept that his imagination is good enough, and that he can still have his dreams.
Bramante, appears in The Rocket
In 'The Rocket' it is Bodoni's neighbor, Bramante, who first points out that if one person is chosen to ride the rocket, it will tear Bodoni's family apart. Bramante also watches the rockets at night and dreams about them, but he is more bitter than Bodoni about the fact that they are too poor to ever ride in one. He tells Bodoni that rockets are for the rich, as are dreams. Bodoni proves that the poor might not be able to have rockets, but they can still live their dreams.
Doug's Father, The Rocket Man, appears in The Rocket Man
In 'The Rocket Man' Doug's father is a rocket pilot. He loves his job and enjoys exploring space, but he also loves his family and hates leaving them. He is torn between these two different lives. When he is in space he wants to return home and when he is home he just wants to go back to space. He is a roving man, always wanting to be travelling somewhere but always restless when he arrives there. He recognizes that this makes him and his family unhappy and he wishes that he could change, but he cannot. He advises Doug to never become a rocket pilot or he will have the same problem. This time, Doug's father decides that this will be his last trip into space and that next time he will stay with them for good. The reader never finds out whether he would truly keep this promise, as he is killed on his next trip.
Doug's Mother, appears in The Rocket Man
Doug's mother, in 'The Rocket Man,' is very unhappy with the situation she lives in. Her husband is gone for months at a time and only comes home briefly between trips. She feels abandoned and alone, and she is terrified for her husband's safety. In order to cope with this, she has convinced herself that her husband is actually dead and that it is only his ghost or his memory that returns to her. This way, if the worst happens, she will be better able to face it. This does not stop her from trying to get him to remain by cooking nice meals, going on trips and involving him in family life. She sometimes allows her resolve to slide, and she stops thinking of him as dead. This is joyful, but also heartbreaking, as she knows he will only leave again. When he does leave, she feels as though he loves his job more than he loves her, which is incredibly hurtful. All of Doug's mother's precautions, in the end, cannot help her when they do receive the terrible news that her husband has died. She is grief stricken, and she can no longer look at the sun, which is what killed him. She will only come out at night and she sleeps through the day, her whole life turned upside down because of her personal tragedy. Doug's mother represents the fact that although space travel is an amazing and wonderful thing for humanity, it is not necessarily always as good on an individual and personal level.
Eckels, appears in A Sound of Thunder
In 'A Sound of Thunder' Eckels is the man who has paid for a hunting trip back in time, to kill dinosaurs. He listens to the lecture about altering the past, but when he actually sees the tyrannosaurus rex he is so terrified he falls off the path and squashes a butterfly. He does not mean to be this reckless, and his accident was caused by fear rather than disrespect for Travis and his rules. However, it does cause the future to change dramatically for the worse, which angers Travis. Eckels is punished for his transgression by being made to retrieve the bullets from the dinosaur corpse, which only further traumatizes the man. At the end of the story it is strongly implied that Travis shoots Eckels.
Mr. Travis, appears in A Sound of Thunder
Mr. Travis is the leader of the expedition to the past to hunt dinosaurs in 'A Sound of Thunder.' He lectures the hunters about not stepping off the path or changing the past, and is very serious about the possible consequences of their actions. However, he does not seem to stop and assess his own actions. If the time-travel has the potential to be so dangerous, and if they still do not really understand it, perhaps they should simply not be doing it. It is Travis' company who is running the expedition, and he is in charge, so he must take ultimate responsibility for what happens. He does not, preferring to blame Eckels instead and unleashing all his anger on him. Travis threatens to leave Eckels in the past and then to shoot him. At the end of the story, it is implied that Travis kills Eckels.
The Lieutenant, appears in The Long Rain
In 'The Long Rain' the lieutenant and his men are trying to reach one of the warm Sun Domes on Venus. Slowly, the constant rain begins to drive them mad. The lieutenant tries to keep up morale by talking about the comforts they can expect at the Sun Dome. This backfires when they reach the Sun Dome and find it destroyed. The prospect of walking on through the rain to the next one, which might also be abandoned and ruined, is too much for some of them. When one man simply stops and leans his head up, mouth open towards the rain, the lieutenant recognizes that he has gone completely insane and will now just stand here drowning to death. The lieutenant shoots the man to kill him quickly rather than let him suffer like that. They then continue on. In the end there are only two men left, and the lieutenant gives up. He says that he knows he will go insane too, and that he cannot continue on. He will kill himself now before he loses it completely. He is thoughtful enough despite his despair to try to encourage the last man on, and to wait until he has gone out of sight before he shoots himself.
The Last Survivor on Venus, appears in The Long Rain
In 'The Long Rain' the last survivor manages to get through the constant rain and the disappointment of the abandoned Sun Dome. He pushes ahead even after the lieutenant dies. He begins to worry that the next Sun Dome will be ruined too, or that he will never reach it. He feels himself beginning to give up and to mad. Finally, he reaches the second Sun Dome and goes inside, where warmth, light, hot chocolate and cozy beds are waiting for him. What he sees seems a little unlikely, and is suspiciously similar to the fantasies of the tired, wet men. This suggests that the last survivor might not have found the second Sun Dome after all, but instead gone mad out in the rain like the rest of the men.
Edgar Allen Poe, appears in The Exiles
Edgar Allen Poe is a character in 'The Exiles.' He is an author living on Mars with his literary creations and fellow writers of the supernatural. He is very bitter at having been forced off Earth and angry that people are burning his books. He thinks humans need superstition in their lives and that it is a bad thing that science and advancement are obliterating it. He sees that the people of Earth have even rejected religion and thinks that Earth must be a very depressing place to live because of this. He is proud of his writing and angry that the people of Earth think it is somehow damaging or too silly to be read. He does not want to simply move on to another planet when the Earth men come to Mars, and is determined to fight instead. He seems to be in charge of the resistance. However, he is not physically present, only an idea, and he is destroyed when the captain and his men burn his last book.
Edgar Allen Poe was a real Victorian author who wrote very famous horror and science fiction stories, and tales of the supernatural.
Bierce, appears in The Exiles
Bierce is one of the authors living with his creations and fellow authors on Mars in the story 'The Exiles.' He, like Poe, is determined to fight, but he is destroyed before the spaceship even arrives, when his last book is burned on Earth. Bierce was also a real Victorian writer who told short stories with a dark or supernatural theme.
Charles Dickens, appears in The Exiles
Charles Dickens is one of the authors living with his creations on Mars in 'The Exiles.' He has sectioned himself off from the other writers, thinking their stories too horrific and disturbing and not seeing why he is connected to them. He is eating dinner with the Fezziwigs, characters from 'A Christmas Carol,' when Poe tries to recruit him to fight the arriving people from Earth. Dickens refuses to fight. He seems a sad, bitter man who does not care if he is destroyed or not. He does not believe in waging war against the people of Earth just because they have decided to reject their stories. In fact, he seems to partly agree with the Earth people, finding Poe and the other authors distasteful. This is because Dickens wrote more about the real world, about human suffering, about Victorian society and Christian morals. However, some of his stories involve ghosts, which is why Poe thinks he is on Mars with them. In actual fact, it seems that Dickens is on Mars because his works contain Christian ideas as well as the ghosts. Religion has also been rejected in favor of science, and has been condemned as just another superstition. This is why Christmas has been banned and Father Christmas is also wasting away on Mars. If Dickens understood what was really at stake, perhaps he would agree to fight after all.
Charles Dickens was a real Victorian author who wrote 'A Christmas Carol' along with other very famous works.
The Book-Burning Ship's Captain, appears in The Exiles
In 'The Exiles,' the captain of the approaching spaceship is on his way to Mars when strange things begin to happen on his ship. Men are dying strangely, or being overcome with fear and superstition. The captain, when he first became aware of strange dreams, brought onboard some old books about the supernatural. When they land on Mars he symbolically burns the books in order to show his men that superstition has no place in their lives, and that there is nothing to fear on Mars. He is scornful of superstition and places all his trust in science. By burning the books, he defeats Poe and the other authors, finally destroying them.
Chatterton, appears in Here There be Tygers
In 'Here There be Tygers' Chatterton is the head of the mining expedition. He is the company's man on the ship, who is there to ensure that planets are drained of all their useful resources and those resources brought back to Earth. He has no respect at all for other worlds and only sees profit in them. He seems to enjoy destroying them, seeing them as hostile creatures that need to be fought and subdued. When they get to the sentient planet, he is eager to get started, but they soon become aware of the planet's strange gifts. While the other men are delighted, Chatterton is suspicious and frightened. He uses the drill on the planet in a conscious effort to hurt it, but the planet simply sinks the drill in a tar pit. Chatterton then decides to destroy the planet and runs back towards the ship and the bomb that they have onboard. The planet kills him before he can reach the ship. It is strongly implied that he is eaten by a tiger.
Captain Forester, appears in Here There be Tygers
Captain Forester is the captain of the mining ship in 'Here There be Tygers.' He is more respectful of planets than Chatterton and appreciates their beauty. If it were up to him, they would not strip them of their resources and ruin them in the process. The captain is as delighted as his men to find that the new planet is sentient. He tries to persuade Chatterton to be reasonable. When Chatterton has been killed, the captain insists the rest of the men go back to Earth. The ship and its equipment have been paid for by the company and he would feel very dishonest if they just stayed on the planet and never returned it. However, he is wistful and regretful about having to leave, as he would have enjoyed staying forever on the planet in a peaceful and easy existence.
Bob, appears in The Strawberry Window
In 'The Strawberry Window' Bob is a man who has moved to Mars with his family. They are some of the early settlers, and life is not entirely comfortable or familiar yet. Bob's wife is homesick and wants to leave, but Bob is determined to stay, despite also missing Earth. He explains to his family that it is important for humanity to expand and colonize other worlds, so that in the event of a disaster there would always be humans who would survive. He knows that if the early pioneers give up and go home, then other worlds will never be settled. He therefore thinks it is up to them to stick it out and to make it into a new home that they can love. He is very persuasive, and manages to convince his family. However, he does still care about their happiness and goes to great lengths to make them feel more at home. He brings familiar objects from Earth so that they can rebuild a life on Mars that is familiar to them.
The Two Knights, appears in The Dragon
In 'The Dragon' the two knights on the moor discuss the existence of the dragon with fear. When it returns, they charge at it, but are knocked aside and run over. This is because the dragon is really a train and the knights are actually ghosts who do not realize they are dead.
Sim, appears in Frost and Fire
In 'Frost and Fire' Sim is a boy born into a hostile world. Sim's people crash-landed on this planet long ago and were altered by the radiation of the sun, which made them age quicker. Now every human lifespan is only eight days. Sim is aware that he can think and reason straight after being born, but he somehow knows that this is unusual. This is because all his people have racial memory that allows them to remember things that happened to previous generations. Sim grows up very quickly, walking outside in a day and learning about the world. He soon makes an enemy when another child steals his berries. He sees a girl called Lyte and instantly falls in love with her. In three days he is almost grown.
Sim is not willing to sit back and accept his fate. He is horrified at the idea of having only eight days to live, so he is determined to find a solution. He knows one of the old spaceships lies not far away, but it is too far to run during the hour at sunset and sunrise when it is safe to be outside. He seeks out the scientists in his community, who have been ostracized by the others, and pledges his life to trying to help them come up with a solution. He is willing to put aside his own needs and desires in order to help future generations, showing he is very unselfish and heroic.
When Sim hears that some other boys are going to attack a nearby community, because their cliffs are further from the sun and so the people there live eleven days instead of eight, Sim agrees to go to war with them. Sim is not naturally violent and hates the idea of it, but he knows this could be his only chance to reach the ship. If he sets off from the other cliffs, which are slightly closer to the ship, he might have a chance of reaching it. He therefore has a strong interest in helping to capture the cliffs. He goes with the boys and with Lyte, the girl he loves. He tries to fight but his heart is not in it until he sees Lyte hurt. He is wounded and his people are beaten. When they run home, Sim realizes he will not be able to make it on his injured foot. He comes up with a quick plan and tries to shame the cliff dwellers into sending someone to fight him one on one. One man agrees. Eventually, through sheer willpower, Sim wins and secures a place for himself in the cliffs. The next night he sets off for the ship with Lyte. Despite the fact that he could live another three days in these cliffs, he never loses sight of his goal and the need to help all his people.
Sim and Lyte run for the ship but it is obvious they will not make it. When Lyte slows down, Sim stays with her despite the fact that this means he will die. He will not abandon her. He is quick-thinking and remains calm, and when he sees a river he tells Lyte to jump in. The river quickly carries them to the ship, just in time. Inside the ship Sim and Lyte's aging instantly slows down as they are shut off from the radiation of the sun. They could live full lives inside this ship, but Sim will not even consider letting his people down. He runs back to the caves alongside the ship's laser beam, which provides enough heat for him to run in the night. This is extremely dangerous, but Sim is willing to risk himself for something he sees as more important. He persuades his people to come with him, and together they all let the river carry them to the ship. Together they fix the ship and leave the planet for good. Sim has therefore become the hero and savior of his people.
Dark , appears in Frost and Fire
Dark is Sim's sister in 'Frost and Fire.' She looks after him when he is very little, after his parents have died. When he returns after several days on the ship, he is the same age but she is an old woman.
Lyte, appears in Frost and Fire
Lyte is a blue-haired girl in 'Frost and Fire' who Sim falls in love with. Sim's enemy, Chion, is a rival for Lyte's affections, but she is only ever interested in Sim. When Sim goes to war she insists on coming with him, and when he runs for the ship she goes too. She is determined to stay with Sim no matter what, and she will not let him down. Like Sim, she is very brave. On the ship she gives in to a moment of selfishness and tries to persuade him not to go back for the others, but she quickly sees his point of view and feels sorry for thinking only of herself.
Chion, appears in Frost and Fire
Chion is Sim's enemy in 'Frost and Fire.' He steals berries from Sim when they are children and wants Lyte for himself. He is resentful and jealous of Sim. He insists that Sim come to war with them, and he deliberately injures Sim so that he cannot run back with them. Later, when Sim returns after several days on the ship, Chion is an old man. He tries to persuade the others to kill Sim, but Dark intervenes. Chion dies right in front of Sim's eyes.
Uncle Einar, appears in Uncle Einar
Uncle Einar is a winged man who lives in Europe. He flies to America for a family reunion but is stranded there when he hits a tower and injures his wings. He falls in love with the woman who finds him and nurses him back to health, and stays with her. They marry and start a family. Einar loves to fly, but he is afraid that other people would harm him if they saw his wings. He does not dare fly during the day, and cannot fly at night because his night senses were lost in his first injury. He loves his family, but he misses the freedom of flying. This makes him grumpy. However, his children give him the idea he needs to fly without being seen. He attaches one of their kites to his back and with it he is able to fly without looking suspicious. This makes him happy and very proud of his children.
Colonel Freeleigh, appears in The Time Machine
Colonel Freeleigh is an old man in 'The Time Machine' who tells stories to three children called Charlie, Douglas and John. Charlie calls the Colonel a time machine because through his stories he transports the children back in time in their imagination. He has many interesting stories to tell them about his past, and the children are amazed at how much he knows. The Colonel is pleased to be called a time machine, and tells the children to come back any time they want to hear another story.
Douglas, appears in The Sound of Summer Running
Douglas is a young boy in 'The Sound of Summer Running' who desperately wants new tennis shoes for the summer. He explains to Mr. Sanderson, the shoe-shop owner, why new tennis shoes are so magical and so full of possibilities. He promises to run errands for Mr. Sanderson if he lets him have the shoes. Mr. Sanderson is enchanted by Douglas' enthusiasm, so he agrees.
Mr. Sanderson, appears in The Sound of Summer Running
Mr. Sanderson is the shoe-shop owner in 'The Sound of Summer Running.' He agrees to let Douglas have a new pair of tennis shoes when Douglas promises to run errands for him. Mr. Sanderson is delighted by Douglas' enthusiasm for the shoes and for life, and for a while Douglas helps remind him of his own youth.
This section contains 9,297 words
(approx. 24 pages at 400 words per page)