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One of the overarching themes in The Martian Chroniclesis xenophobia, the resistance to change. The theme is shown in many of the stories starting with "Rocket Summer" which shows change taking place on Earth. That foreshadows the change that will soon take place on Mars. On Mars, however, the Martians are resistant to change. Yll is so jealous of Ylla that he has to stop the change that is happening by killing the earthmen. In "The Earthmen," the Martians are oblivious to the change that the mistake the Earthmen as lunatics and the stop the change by putting them in an insane asylum and killing them. The Martians are also resistant to change in "The Third Expedition," by pretending to be the crew's relatives and killing them. This time, they are prepared and shows that they are against any change. The tone of "And the Moon Still Be Bright", however, is against change, but against a negative change. In "Night Meeting", one of the characters flat out says that he thinks that change is necessary on Mars. The tone of "Way in the Middle of the Air" implies that change is necessary to African Americans and that resisting the change will be bad for society. "Usher II" illustrates the need to change a politically correct society. "There Will Come Soft Rains" show the consequences of xenophobia on Earth and "The Million Year Picnic" shows humans changing from their old way of life.
In "And the Moon Still Be as Bright", Spender warns of destroying all of the Martian cultures. After the fourth expedition, humans overrun Mars and make everything imitate Earth. In the process, Martian culture is lost. The loss of culture can impact our own world, as invaders force other cultures on the oppressed. Bradbury is saying that destroying culture at its hearth is negative for society. Since the world is a culturally diverse place, we must preserve different cultures at its hearth.
“Usher II” demonstrates that limiting the knowledge of a group of people by burning the main source of knowledge precludes the advancement of society and can be fatal. Various aspects of the story such as the ignorance of Garrett, the three aspects of the setting, and the humorous but dark tone demonstrate that censorship is a danger to society.Before Stendahl leaves Garrett to die, Stendahl tells Garrett “you took other people’s advice that [Mr. Poe’s books] needed burning. Otherwise you’d have realized what I was going to do to you when we came down here a moment ago” (Bradbury 156), proving that Garrett’s ignorance is the cause of his death. The book burners are depicted in a negative way, so Bradbury is saying that being ignorant limits the knowledge of people. the mood, the emotions a reader feels while reading “Usher II”, is threatening. Bradbury threatens people who wish to limit knowledge by burning books by showing that censorship leads to ignorance and that “ignorance is fatal” (Bradbury 156). A reader could feel threatened by the scenarios that could happen if censorship occurs. “Usher II” is one of the few stories in The Martian Chronicles that have a humorous tone, specifically a dark humor. The tone is demonstrated by the comical deaths of the book burners, each an allusion to one of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories. No educated person will die in the way the book burners died because an educated person would be smart enough not to fall into the very obvious traps that killed the book burners. The humorous deaths of the book burners and Garrett demonstrate that if one does not have sufficient knowledge, then they are susceptible to those same comical deaths.
In "There Will Come Soft Rains," nature is reclaiming the human landscape after a nuclear war. It shows that even after so much human development, nature will always prevail. When the tree falls on the house naturally, it causes a fire that even the most advanced automated technology of its day cannot combat it and the house is eventually destroyed. The poem by Sara Teasdale also shows that one day when all of human civilization is destroyed, nature will still be thriving and eventually, reclaim the entire world.
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