Marionettes inc questions and answers
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About 10:00 p.m., Smith and Braling walk down the street together. Both men are in their early thirties and are “eminently sober.” Smith complains that Braling has cut their night short—”first it’s Braling’s night out in years,” and he wants to leave at 10:00 p.m. Braling blames his “nerves” for the short night.
Smith’s remark about it being their “first night out in years,” combined with the fact that the two men are “eminently sober,” suggests that they used to be more carefree and wild, but have since matured—particularly Braling, who appears cautious and nervous.
Smith claims he has no idea how Braling “managed” to go out tonight. He claims that he has been pestering Braling for ten years about going out for “a quiet drink.” However, now that Braling has decided, he “insist[s] on turning in early.” Braling dejectedly admits that he can’t press his luck any further. Smith speculates that Braling must have “put sleeping powder in [his] wife’s coffee” to get out of the house in the first place. “That would be unethical,” Braling says. Smith will soon find out how Braling got out of the building, he believes.
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In “The Veldt,” the family’s parents have set up a virtual reality nursery for their children to use and enjoy, enabling them to be amused while also motivating them to use their imagination. Instead of helping the children, the nursery becomes a source of harm: the workers become cruel and greedy, even murdering their own parents to maintain their heinous lifestyle.
Hollis is one of the astronauts hurtling to their deaths in “Kaleidoscope” after their spacecraft experiences unexpected damage. He believes that when he approaches Earth’s atmosphere, he will be transformed into dirt, which will have a minor, impersonal, pragmatic effect on the Earth’s environment and industrialism. However, the reverse happens: a kid sees him and believes he is a falling star, so his mother helps him to make a wish. Hollis’ death, rather than the imagination-stifling fertilizing destiny he dreamed for himself, has the effect of fostering imagination.
Mars is entirely inhabited by African-Americans in “The Other Foot.” When they hear of the imminent arrival of white people, they create the colony as an ironic reversal of the Jim Crow laws that imposed racial apartheid on Earth; these new laws are prejudiced against white people rather than black people.
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Ray Bradbury’s short story “Marionettes, Inc.” was first published in Startling Stories in March 1949 and later reprinted in his book of short stories The Illustrated Man. Bradbury creates a tension between man and machine in the novel, as well as a depiction of human reliance on technology, which is a common theme in Bradbury’s tales.
Braling and Smith go for a walk one evening in 1990, much to Smith’s surprise, as his wife usually tends to deter him from doing things he loves. Braling reveals to Smith that while pursuing his personal interests, he has been using a robot replica of himself, Braling Two, to fulfill his duties as a husband. His wife is utterly oblivious to the duplication. He intends to spend a month in Rio de Janeiro while his robot looks after him at home.
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Braling is able to get away from his wife and enjoy pleasures that he would otherwise be denied, such as a trip to Rio, thanks to the creation of an android look-alike. While this may seem to be ideal, it prevents a mature response to the situation, one in which responsibility is asserted rather than delegated to the most convenient piece of technology available. After entrusting the duty to his marionette, Braling is taken aback when the marionette demands full power, pretending to love and care for his wife. In the novel, the marionettes are able to feel emotions and envision a world outside of their servitude.
Bradbury uses the term “Marionettes, Inc.” to explain how, if society is not vigilant, technology will overtake human minds, and that, ultimately, technology will achieve dominance over humans. Explain how, as technology advances and absorbs the minds of its users, it can come to dominate human lives very literally.