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The Illustrated Man Characters & Character Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 64 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Illustrated Man.
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The Illustrated Man Summary & Study Guide Description

The Illustrated Man 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 and a Free Quiz on The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.

Characters

The Illustrated Manappears in Prologue: The Illustrated Man and Epilogue

The Illustrated Man is a carnival worker who noticed a sign outside an old lady's house offering exquisite tattoos. She worked on him for a whole night, covering his body with beautiful pictures. However, at night, the pictures come to life and tell stories about the future. The Illustrated Man provides a framework for the stories that follow, melding them all into one tale that shows different pieces and parts of a single future.

The Illustrated Man is cursed by his beautiful and magical tattoos. He is out of work. People fear him, and children follow him around. He searches through rural Wisconsin for the woman who tattooed him so that he can kill her in revenge. However, he believes that she came from the future and that she has left his time, so ultimately, he believes that his own quest is futile.

In the epilogue at the end of the book, the narrator sees his own future in one of the Illustrated Man's tattoos. He sees the Illustrated Man strangling him, and he flees in fear. The Illustrated Man, if his tattoo is accurate, is a murderer. The narrator has not given the Illustrated Man any reason to kill him. Perhaps the living tattoos have driven the Illustrated Man insane.

George Hadleyappears in The Veldt

George Hadley is a well-off man who spoils his children. He concentrates on giving his family material possessions in order to give them a good life. He buys an expensive automated house that does everything for his wife and children. Unfortunately, the automation of the house leaves George feeling useless and without purpose.

George does not give his family the attention that they need. He's not the one who notices a problem with the nursery; his wife is. George is an absent father, caring for his children with material goods instead of with time and attention. When he begins to try to exercise authority, he finds that his children are spoiled and used to getting everything that they want. Peter and Wendy rebel against their mystified father.

George's fatal flaw is that he caters to his children's needs. Even when he knows that his children have serious problems, George cannot resist giving them one last "gift". He allows the children access to the nursery one last time, falling into his old patterns. Giving the children this permission leads directly to George's death. He has realized the danger of their dependence on the house too late.

Lydia Hadleyappears in The Veldt

Lydia Hadley is the mother of Peter and Wendy and the wife of George Hadley. She realizes before her husband that there is something wrong about the nursery, which is acting out the angry, hateful fantasies of their children. Lydia Hadley feels useless since all of her jobs as a wife and mother have been usurped by the family's expensive, automated house. However, she is a passive woman, dependent on her husband. When George gives the children permission to use the nursery one last time, Lydia does not object. In fact, she leaves them alone in the nursery. Her passivity contributes to her death.

Peterappears in The Veldt

Peter is the spoiled son of George and Lydia Hadley. His parents have been replaced in his affections by the automated machines of their house, and particularly the nursery. Peter becomes angry whenever his father tries to control him or threatens to take away one of his toys. Peter is also very intelligent. Somehow, Peter learns how to make the lions in the nursery real, and he engineers his parents' death when they try to shut down the automated house.

Wendyappears in The Veldt

Wendy is the spoiled daughter of George and Lydia Hadley. She joins her brother in conspiring against her parents when they threaten to take the automated house and holographic nursery away.

David McLeanappears in The Veldt

David McLean is a psychiatrist who is concerned about the images of death present in the nursery. He recommends shutting down the nursery and sending the children to daily therapy sessions.

Hollisappears in Kaleidoscope

Hollis is an astronaut whose ship blows up. He is left helplessly floating toward Earth as his shipmates float away from him in different directions. Hollis realizes that he has not been participating in his life. Instead, he has merely been disconnectedly going through the motions. Now, as he floats away into isolation and death, he regrets his life.

Hollis's first thought is that all of the astronauts' lives were meaningless. Now that they are going to die, what does it matter how they've lived their lives? He does not seem to care, at first, that he's going to die.

However, Hollis lashes out at his shipmate, Lespere, who has joyous memories of three wives, drunken revels, gambling binges, and partying. Hollis is jealous of Lespere's full life. After he's lost contact with all of his fellow astronauts, Hollis regrets how he's lived his life, but it's too late for him to change. Hollis finds solace only in the idea that his ashes will rejoin the Earth and become part of the cycle of life.

Lespereappears in Kaleidoscope

Lespere is an astronaut whose ship blows up. He reviews his happy memories of his full life as he floats off helplessly through space to his death.

Applegateappears in Kaleidoscope

Applegate is bitter and angry as he floats off into space after his spaceship is blown up. He tells Hollis that he blackballed Hollis in his former job, but this is just a lie. Later, Applegate apologizes for his meanness.

The Captainappears in Kaleidoscope

The captain, who is left helplessly floating in space along with his men after his spaceship blows up, tries to maintain authority, but he can do nothing about the situation.

Hattie Johnsonappears in The Other Foot

When Hattie Johnson hears that a white man is coming to Mars in a rocket, she is concerned about what will happen. She remembers the pain that white people caused black people when they were on Earth, and she fears the reaction of the Martians to their visitor.

Hattie's husband Willie becomes the ringleader of the angry mob of Martians that plan to meet the white man's rocket ship. Willie harbors resentment against white men for lynchings, persecution, segregation, and murders. He plans to revenge himself with an eye for an eye. Hattie is helpless against Willie's hatred.

After the white man comes out of his rocket ship and explains humbly his situation, Hattie sees an opportunity to prevent Willie and the mob from exacting revenge on the white people. She quizzes the white man about all of the places and people who have been destroyed by war. The trees where black men and women were lynched are gone. The people who persecuted blacks are dead. The hometowns full of memories of segregation are destroyed. Hattie brings home this destruction to Willie and the other Martians, soothing their anger and trauma.

Willie Johnsonappears in The Other Foot

Willie Johnson is a victim of trauma. He has been so hurt by white people and injustice that even after twenty years of life on Mars he cannot forget or forgive. When Willie learns that a white man will be arriving on a rocket ship from Earth, he incites the people to form a mob. Willie gets together his guns, makes a noose for lynching, and brings paint to the landing area. He paints a sign on the trolley indicating that whites are only able to ride in the back. He organizes groups to go through the town, blocking off back rows of the theaters for whites and preparing for segregation and persecution.

Willie does not understand that by persecuting the whites who are coming he is starting another cycle of violence that is just as bad as what he left. He is too obsessed with his own hurt to see the bigger picture, that violence begets violence and that Mars can become another Earth.

When the white man arrives, Willie is halted by his humbleness and his description of all of the destruction on Earth. When Willie realizes that all of the remnants of the injustice that wounded him are gone, he can finally let go of his anger and hatred. The cycle of violence is broken by the total destruction of Earth, and Willie is able to finally see a white man as another human being.

The Johnson Childrenappears in The Other Foot

The children of Mars have never seen white people, and they are thrilled at the unusual prospect of seeing a white man. The Johnson's unnamed children excitedly ask questions and chatter about the upcoming event, unaware of the bad feelings between blacks and whites.

The White Manappears in The Other Foot

An unnamed white man comes out of the rocket ship from Earth and asks for permission for the survivors of Earth's nuclear holocaust to come live on Mars. He explains to the Martian citizens how completely Earth has been destroyed, and he humbly offers to till the fields and act as slaves or second-class citizens for the right to start over on an unspoiled planet. His humble attitude earns the pity and empathy of the angry Martians.

Hernandoappears in The Highway

Hernando is a farmer living in a remote jungle area. A highway passes by his farm, and Hernando often allows tourists to take his picture as he tills his fields. Hernando lives off of the land. He is used to reusing what others would term trash. He has made shoes out of tire rubber from a car crash and a bowl out of a hubcap that flew off a passing car. Hernando seems to have little interest in civilization.

When Hernando learns of the nuclear war, he is unaffected. The jungle is the same jungle that it's always been. His farm sits on the same land where it's always been. He goes off to till his field, unconcerned about what's happened to "civilization". The Earth is still whole to Hernando. However, Hernando may not understand the wide-spread effects of a nuclear war. His land could be contaminated by fallout, and his jungle could die from nuclear winter.

Hernando's Wifeappears in The Highway

Hernando's wife works while Hernando helps the travelers and tills the field.

The Travelersappears in The Highway

A man and three young women stop at Hernando's farm to get water for their overheated radiator. They tell Hernando that there's been a nuclear war. The travelers are devastated because of the nuclear war, and they are fearful about their homes and families.

Lieutenant Martinappears in The Man

Martin is Captain Hart's lieutenant. He is a thoughtful man, and even before he learns that the stranger recently visited the planet, he considers whether his journey through space is really a quest for peace. Martin immediately believes the townspeople's reports of a Christ figure who visited their town. Fundamentally, he has faith.

Although Martin has faith and wants to believe in the Christ-like stranger who has visited the town, he is also a reasonable man. At first, he accuses the captain of being angry at being shown up. He realizes that the captain is the kind of man who would be jealous of someone else taking center stage, even if the other person is not a rival captain but a divine figure. However, when the captain makes a reasonable argument that it's exactly the kind of trick someone like Burton would pull, Martin experiences doubts. His faith is not so strong that he's immune to logical argument.

Martin's faith is immediately restored when the other ships crash land, bringing the news that the rival captains are dead. Martin realizes that the captain is a lost cause. He has found the peace he's searched for in this small town.

Captain Hartappears in The Man

Captain Hart is a driven, ambitious man. He exhausts himself in his drive to do more: make more money, go deeper into space, and explore more. The captain does not even seem to know what he's searching for. He's too caught up in the search himself.

The captain is a man of science and technology. He represents human beings' drive to create and explore, without a deep or conscious understanding of the ultimate purpose of creation and exploration. Martin is searching for peace, but what is the captain searching for?

The captain is unwilling to accept the idea of a Christ figure visiting the planet he's on. He uses all his effort to knock down the testimony of the local people. Finally, when he cannot fight against the evidence, he turns violent. He can't let go and simply have faith in a miraculous occurrence. He is driven on in search of the Christ figure. This drive to search for the physical Christ leaves the captain without the spiritual Christ, something the captain will never be able to find out in the universe because it must be found within himself.

The Mayorappears in The Man

The mayor of the town is a calm and spiritual man. He believes in the Christ figure who has visited his town.

The Lieutenantappears in The Long Rain

The lieutenant is the only one of the shipwrecked men who can maintain hope and continue his journey to find the Sun Dome. The lieutenant shows himself to be a kind and caring man throughout the men's journey through the Venusian jungles. He is the leader of the four men who survive the shipwreck. He tries to keep the men's spirits up by telling them that the Sun Dome is only an hour or two away, even though he admits it's a lie for himself as well as for the men.

The lieutenant has the presence of mind to order the men to get down on the ground to avoid the lightning of the dangerous thunderstorm. He does not want to leave Pickard behind or kill him; the lieutenant's idea is to carry Pickard with them to find the Sun Dome. However, when Simmons shoots Pickard, the lieutenant understands and does not condemn Simmons. The lieutenant's good nature may be the reason why he can maintain hope and ultimately find the salvation of the Sun Dome.

Simmonsappears in The Long Rain

Simmons cannot stand the thought of marching on through the torturous Venusian rains just to be disappointed by another destroyed Sun Dome. Instead of continuing on to salvation, Simmons gives up. He plans to wait until the lieutenant is out of sight and then shoot himself.

Pickardappears in The Long Rain

Pickard loses his mind in the jungles of Venus. He shoots his gun at the air, as if trying to kill the rain itself. Then, he becomes comatose, staring up into the rain. Simmons shoots Pickard instead of leaving him to drown or trying to carry him with them.

Dougappears in The Rocket Man

Fourteen-year-old Doug is torn between admiration for his father, the Rocket Man, and sorrow because every time his father goes away on another trip to outer space, he is abandoned. Doug feels the same romantic draw to outer space that his father feels. However, he also sees how his mother is tortured by his father's constant absence. Doug promises his father that he will not become a rocket man, but Doug's obsession with outer space indicates that perhaps he is irrevocably headed on the same path as his father.

Doug is a secretive boy, as illustrated when he steals his father's uniform in order to take the space dust off of it. He is also intelligent. He has built a centrifuge in order to clean the dust off the uniform, and he can examine it through his microscope. Doug is also responsible and older than his years. He tries to do chores around the house while his father is away, in a way taking the place of the absent Rocket Man. His mother, however, will not let Doug take on this role, stepping into his father's footsteps.

Even though Doug does not take on the household chores, he becomes his mother's caretaker while his father is gone. He buys her shades to put over her windows so that she can try to sleep. He becomes her confidant when she tells him why she's distant toward his father. When Doug's father dies, he is left to care for his grieving mother, who can no longer stand the sight of the sun.

Lily (Mother)appears in The Rocket Man

Lily is deeply injured by her husband's need to go into space for months at a time and leave her alone with only their fourteen-year-old son. She does not sleep when he's away, and she puts her life on hold until he returns. She tries to convince herself that he's already dead so that she won't be injured by the inevitable. Then, when he's home, she is distant from him because he doesn't seem real to her. She has developed a defense mechanism to stop the pain of his constant departures and to deal with the fear that he may never return.

The Rocket Man (Father)appears in The Rocket Man

The Rocket Man is drawn to go into space. He loves his family, and when he's in space, he misses them. He refuses to phone his wife because he will miss her too much and be unhappy. When he's at home, he misses outer space. He looks up at the stars and feels drawn to them. The Rocket Man is a tragic figure because he can never resolve his conflicting desires to be with his family and to be in outer space.

The Very Reverend Father Joseph Daniel Peregrineappears in The Fire Balloons

Father Peregrine is an intellectual and creative priest. He can imagine things beyond the normal world, and this makes him suited to dealing with an alien world. He can imagine that a being which seems completely alien may have intelligence and morality, unlike the other missionaries in his party. Father Peregrine also is a man of faith, not only in God but also in his own instincts and abilities. While Father Stone cannot accept the seemingly impossible, that the aliens saved them from the avalanche, Father Peregrine's mind is open enough to accept the event.

Father Peregrine is so convinced that he is right that he's willing to put his life on the line. He jumps off a cliff in the faith that the aliens will save him and in his fervor to prove that they are sentient beings worthy of salvation. To prove his story to Father Stone, he shoots himself not once but three times.

The priest's leap of faith proves not only Father Peregrine's faithfulness but also his dedication. While it would have been easy for Father Peregrine to take the missionaries into the city to tend to the Earth men, Father Peregrine rejects the easy path. He prefers the difficult road, and as a result, he is contacted by the aliens. Contact with the aliens is a spiritual gift. He learns spiritual truths: that the body can be shed; that without the body the sin has no soul; and that there is eternal life.

Father Stoneappears in The Fire Balloons

Father Stone is the second in command of the Episcopal mission to Mars. He is not as imaginative as Father Peregrine.

The Martiansappears in The Fire Balloons

The Martians are glowing spheres of blue light. They seem totally alien to the humans, but Father Peregrine believes they need salvation. The aliens communicate with the priests psychically, explaining that they have transcended to a spiritual form and live without sin.

The Man and His Wifeappears in The Last Night of the World

The man and his wife are unnamed, and so they are everymen. They are average people. The man works in an office doing unnamed work. The woman raises their two daughters. The children, also unnamed, play like other children. The greatness of this couple lies in their everyday lives. They aren't doing anything wonderful or horrible, but instead, they drink coffee, wash the dishes, put the children to bed, and go to bed themselves. They live quietly, and they are content.

Edgar Allan Poeappears in The Exiles

Edgar Allan Poe is the leader of the authors whose books have been banned on Earth. When the authors of supernatural works are banned, they appear on Mars along with their creations, characters, and other elements from their work. Edgar Allan Poe is particularly angry and active in wreaking revenge on the Earth men. He plans to unleash the horrors from his works, such as the Red Death plague and being buried alive, on the Earth men. He even asks Dickens to meet the men and keep them busy talking while the others kill them. Poe shows no pity toward the unsuspecting Earth men.

Poe's character is overcome with anger and fear when the Earth men finally land. He organizes one final rush of writhing bodies toward the rocket ship. Ultimately, though, Poe only exists in the imagination of the Earth men. When the rocket lands, the Earth men see nothing. Poe is helpless without the cooperation of the Earth men's imagination, as any author relies on the imagination of the reader in order to communicate.

The Captainappears in The Exiles

The unnamed captain of the Earth men's rocket is a product of his civilization. He is clean, crisp, and perfect. He deals with problems in a straightforward and rational manner. His instincts tell him to bring the banned books from Earth, since he senses some connection between his strange dreams and the banned author. By burning the banned books when he reaches Mars, the captain destroys the authors and their characters.

Smithappears in The Exiles

Smith is the captain's right-hand man and one of the Earth men on their way to Mars. Smith shows that he has some imagination when he can see in the distance the crumbling Emerald City. However, the captain immediately moves to squelch Smith's imagination by sending him to a psychoanalyst.

Ambrose Bierceappears in The Exiles

Ambrose Bierce is an exiled author whose books have been banned on Earth. He finds their predicament amusing, and he even seems amused at his own death, commenting that the initial sensations of being destroyed are "interesting".

Charles Dickensappears in The Exiles

The author Charles Dickens does not want to have anything to do with Edgar Allan Poe or the other writers. He is mortified at being included with their horrors. Dickens lives in seclusion with characters from A Christmas Carol, The Pickwick Papers, and his other works. He refuses to do harm to the rocket men.

Joseph Hitchcockappears in No Particular Night or Morning

Joseph Hitchcock has had a difficult life. He had an unhappy childhood and he lost his job, his wife, and his son. He wanted to be a writer, and finally he published a short story. However, his success seems unreal to him. Hitchcock travels into space, constantly increasing the distance between himself and the rest of the world.

Clemens accuses Hitchcock of having no imagination, but Hitchcock actively lets go of the world around him. He does not try to recapture the lost things. He believes that memories are painful, and he pushes them further away. When he decides to go into space, he is aggressively separating himself from reality.

What Hitchcock loses is faith. He demands over and over that Clemens prove things. At first, he won't believe in anything if he can't see it. Then, he stops believing in things he can't see. Even physical evidence is not enough. He must have logical proof that exists in his mind that things outside himself are real. He has lost his ability to have faith, even in things other people take for granted.

Clemensappears in No Particular Night or Morning

Clemens is Hitchcock's friend. He warns Hitchcock to stop cutting himself off from reality and tries to bring Hitchcock out of his catatonic state after the meteor hits him.

William Travis/Roger Kristenappears in The Fox and the Forest

Roger Kristen is an important scientist working on a more powerful bomb in the war-ridden world of the future. He hates his job, and he hates the war that is engulfing his society. He conspires with his wife to go on a time-travel vacation to 1938 New York and then disappear to Mexico.

Roger takes on the name William Travis to hide from the time travel Searchers who want to take him back to the future to complete his work. Roger is fleeing from war and death. His society is one overcome with technology, and Roger is part of the machinery that creates more technology, which causes more war and misery. It's a vicious cycle, and Roger is willing to kill to escape it. Coming from a world of death, killing Simms seems a small price to pay for freedom. Roger cannot escape, though. The Searchers cannot let Roger and his wife escape. They know that others would soon follow, and the war-torn society would lose its workers. Roger is deceived by the film crew, a fatal mistake.

Susan Travis/Ann Kristenappears in The Fox and the Forest

Ann Kristen is less important than her husband, but she also works as a scientist in the future world. She works creating biological weapons that spread disease throughout the world. Like her husband, she hates the future world and its wars. When Susan finds out about the time travel company that's offering vacations in the past, her first thought is of escape from her present life.

Ann takes on the name Susan Travis to hide from the time travel Searchers who want to take her and her husband back to their "duty" in the future. When she is in Mexico, Susan craves going to the church that she sees across the street from her hotel, indicating that she craves a spiritual life. Susan seems more afraid that William. She nearly faints when she detects Simms watching her. However, she is completely willing to conspire with her husband to kill Simms in order to remain free and not return to the many deaths of her future world.

Mr. Simmsappears in The Fox and the Forest

Simms is the Chief of the Searchers, the organization that is trying to track down Susan and William to bring them back to the future. Simms says it is William's duty to come back to the war-torn future and continue his work on a bigger bomb.

Joe Meltonappears in The Fox and the Forest

Melton is a Searcher who disguises himself as a film director in order to make friends with Susan and William. Melton ultimately captures Susan and William and brings them back to the future.

Saul Williamsappears in The Visitor

Saul Williams is an intellectual man who enjoys talking about philosophers. He has contracted an incurable, contagious disease called blood rust, which causes him to excrete blood. The disease will kill him in a year. Saul has been quarantined with the other victims of blood rust on the desolate planet of Mars so that the disease does not spread on Earth. Saul is lonely and craves companionship, but many of the diseased men are too tired to talk.

When Saul is offered salvation in the form of Leonard Mark, he becomes jealous and greedy. Saul refuses to share Mark with others and instead carts him off bodily to a cave. Saul is completely overcome by the possibility of respite from his Martian prison. Mark offers Saul paradise, at no cost. Saul, however, cannot be satisfied with a gift. He craves more and more.

Although Saul is right that the other men are not trustworthy, Saul also finds himself with his hands unreasoningly around Mark's throat. The only reason Saul does not kill Mark, it seems, is that he would be killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. The other men's violent struggle to get Mark to himself ultimately leads to all of them losing what they most dearly want.

Leonard Markappears in The Visitor

Leonard Mark is a psychic who can conjure completely believable hallucinations. He has incredible power, and he uses it freely to give a little joy to his fellows in his confinement on Mars. Mark only asks one thing: to be allowed his freedom to live his life. The men, however, cannot grant Mark that one simple wish. Mark is the casualty of the men's fight to control him.

Ettil Vyreappears in The Concrete Mixer

Ettil is a thoughtful, intellectual Martian man. He has read Earth popular literature, and he believes that a Martian invasion of Earth will fail. The idea of a Martian invasion of Earth is ingrained in Earth men's minds through literature, as is the idea that ultimately Earth will conquer the Martians. Ettil is staunch in his conviction, and the only thing that makes him join the invasion is the threat of being burned alive as punishment.

When Ettil reaches Earth, he learns that his ideas from the Earth pulp literature are wrong. He does not find confident, heroic fighters. Instead, he finds a horrifyingly materialist Earth culture. The women flirt horribly with the Martians. They find books boring and prefer spending their time strapped to cinema seats. Ettil finds Earth devoid of all meaningful culture and believes that Earth's commercialism will chew up the Martians and spit them out, like a cement mixer. He seems to be the only member of the Martian army who is not drawn in by the Earth attractions of women and entertainment.

Tylla Vyreappears in The Concrete Mixer

Tylla is Ettil's wife. She is distressed at his attitude toward the Martian invasion of Earth.

R.R. Van Plankappears in The Concrete Mixer

R.R. Van Plank is a capitalist and movie producer. He plans to take full advantage of the Martian invasion by marketing Martian themed movies and goods to Earth people and also by selling goods to Martians. When he learns that Martians don't wear shoes, he comments that he'll teach them to wear shoes and then sell them shoe shine. Ettil credits Van Plank as being the "Rick" who ultimately destroys the invading Martians in popular literature.

Bralingappears in Marionettes, Inc.

Braling hates his wife and his marriage, but he feels trapped in the relationship. He cannot bring himself to break up the marriage, and he shows no interest in resolving his issues with his wife. Instead, he uses avoidance to get away from the woman he's bound to. Braling uses technology, in the form of a robot he calls Braling Two, to escape his life.

By using a robot as an escape mechanism, evading his problems instead of facing them, Braling dooms himself. He makes himself replaceable by demanding a robot that can take his place. He doesn't like his life, and so he gives it away. Braling thinks that he's found a clever way to make himself independent, but instead, he's made himself obsolete. The robot easily replaces Braling, and no one will know.

Ultimately, Braling is a selfish man. He does not think of things from other people's points of view. Braling does not consider his wife's feelings. He does not consider Braling Two's feelings when he locks the robot inside a box in his basement. It never occurs to Braling that his bad actions will come back to haunt him, and this comes from his self-centered point of view.

Smithappears in Marionettes, Inc.

Smith professes to love his wife, but he jumps at the chance to buy a robot double of himself to get away from her once in a while. Smith's wife is clingy and will not give him space. He craves a little leisure time, peace, and separateness. Smith feels that he is being ungrateful, but still, he chooses to sneak away from his wife instead of facing the problem. Smith has a double standard, since he is riled that his wife would take money from their savings without telling him, something that he is planning to do himself.

The Cityappears in The City

The short story "The City" is told from the perspective of a sentient alien city. Although the reader never learns whether the city feels, it certainly thinks. The city has senses and purpose. It reasons and deduces. Its senses are all automated and technological, but it has the ability to see, smell, feel, and hear. These traits humanize the city, and the reader is closer to the city than to the alien men who land in a spaceship and are examined as specimens.

The city is able to take action, as well as gather information. It is ruthless. It performs a detailed dissection and examination of the captain, and it creates automatons out of the earth men. However, the city's ruthlessness is directed and specific. Its job is to analyze the interplanetary explorers that come into its area. If the explorers are not human, the city sets them free without harm. It has no animus toward anyone but Earth men.

The city's purpose is revenge. It waits patiently for millennia, consumed entirely by one task: the destruction of the human race by disease. When the city accomplishes its purpose, it has no other reason to exist. The city finally dies, and this too humanizes and personifies the city.

Smithappears in The City

Smith is the only Earth astronaut who is afraid of the city. He picks up on the subtle cues that the city is active, even though it seems deserted. The other astronauts chide Smith for his fear. Although Smith is shot by the captain, he becomes an automaton of the city like the other astronauts.

The Astronautsappears in The City

Besides Smith, there are eight astronauts that come to the deserted planet where the Taollan lived twenty thousand years ago. The astronauts function as a group, walking into the city to explore. The reader never learns why the astronauts have come to the planet.

Mink Morrisappears in Zero Hour

Mink Morris is a normal and active little girl. She is a leader, and she takes charge of her friends in the game of invasion. Mink is young enough to possess the imagination to communicate with alien beings through a fourth dimension. She is intelligent enough to carry out the aliens' instructions to build a gate that allows them to pass into Earth in order to invade.

Mink also wants freedom from the difficulties and injustices of being a child. She wants the ability to strike back at older children who make fun of her. She wants the freedom to decide whether or not to take a bath. She wants the restrictions on television lifted. She wants to be a queen, ruling over the world.

On the other hand, Mink does not realize the seriousness of what she's doing, also because of her youth. On one level, she wants revenge against seemingly tyrannical parents, and on another level, she wants the normalcy of her life (with television programs on Saturday) to continue. She does not see the horror of an alien invasion of Earth. With all her imagination, she can't imagine the reality of war with an alien species.

Mary Morrisappears in Zero Hour

Mrs. Morris does not pay much attention to her daughter Mink's game of invasion. However, Mink is not reticent about the specifics of the game, and Mrs. Morris sees everything her daughter is doing. Mrs. Morris is sensitive enough to suspect what is going on. She knows that parents can appear to be tyrants and that children harbor a desire for revenge. However, she is also an adult. As an adult, she has difficulty accepting the impossible. Mrs. Morris does not accept the impossible until she hears the explosion in her yard, and then it is too late.

Henry Morrisappears in Zero Hour

Mr. Morris is a normal father who comes home from work one day to find his daughter playing in the yard. When Mrs. Morris hears the explosion and realizes that her daughter's game of invasion is not just imagination, she tricks Mr. Morris up the stairs. Morris thinks his wife is crazy, but he's open minded or frightened enough to remain silent when he sees the strange, alien glow at the attic door.

Drillappears in Zero Hour

Drill is an alien who communicates with children through a fourth dimension in order to orchestrate an invasion of Earth.

Fiorello Bodoniappears in The Rocket

Fiorello is a man who looks up into the stars at night and sees the rocket ships fly past. He is full of dreams, and he feels the romantic attraction of outer space. However, he is also a poor man. Although Fiorello has saved up $3,000, a fortune for him, he cannot satisfy his dream to fly into space. The money is only enough for one ticket, and Fiorello has a wife and children.

Fiorello puts his family ahead of his dreams. He is not a selfish man, even though he has personal desires. He tries to give one of his family members the opportunity to travel to another planet, but each of them sees that the person who goes will inspire jealousy. Fiorello does not want to break up his family, and so he gives up his dream of flying into space.

However, Fiorello cannot be happy knowing that his dream will be unfulfilled. When Mr. Matthews offers him the dead husk of a rocket, Fiorello cannot help but buy the useless piece of metal. At first, it tortures him with its tantalizing promise that cannot be fulfilled. Fiorello, however, finds salvation in his family. He uses all of his money to make a fantastical rocket ride, which his children believe is real. The illusion of a rocket ride, the dream made actual, is enough fulfillment for Fiorello and his family.

Bramanteappears in The Rocket

Bramante is an old man who is a neighbor of the Bodonis. He tells Fiorello that rocket rides are for the rich and that poor people like Fiorello and his family can't hope to go into outer space.

Maria Bodoniappears in The Rocket

Maria Bodoni is Fiorello's wife. She refuses to go on a trip to Mars, not wanting to be resented by her family for getting the special privilege. When Fiorello tells the family that he's taking them all to Mars in a rocket ship, Maria thinks he is crazy and that he's going to kill them all. Because she doesn't have faith in her husband, she loses out on the illusion of a rocket trip to Mars. However, Maria does find out what her husband has done for their children, and she loves her husband for creating his grand illusion.

Paolo Bodoniappears in The Rocket

Paolo is the Bodoni child who draws the short straw to go on a rocket to Mars, but he refuses the trip on the excuse that he must start school. Paolo is afraid that his family will resent him if he goes to Mars.

Mr. Matthewsappears in The Rocket

Mr. Matthews comes to Bodoni's junkyard to sell him the shell of a model rocket ship.

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The Illustrated Man from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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