The Veldt

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The Veldt Symbol Icon
The veldt, with its punishing heat and its menacing lions and vultures, represents the reality of human existence and human nature. As a product of the nursery, the veldt serves as a mirror of reality: despite the implication that technology (represented by the nursery) represents “progress,” the result of this progress is a barren, primeval landscape. The veldt shows us that human existence hasn’t really changed since its inception; we are cruel savages by nature, and despite the advances of technology, we remain so. In fact, the story suggests, technology may in fact help us express our selfishness and cruelty more effectively: the veldt is a direct emanation of the Hadley children’s minds.

The Veldt Quotes in The Veldt

The The Veldt quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Veldt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Veldt published in 2012.
The Veldt Quotes

George Hadley stood on the African grassland alone. The lions looked up from their feeding, watching him. The only flaw to the illusion was the open door through which he could see his wife, far down the dark hall, like a framed picture, eating her dinner abstractedly.

Related Characters: George Hadley, Lydia Hadley
Related Symbols: The Veldt
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

George goes into the nursery again, this time alone, to see what his kids might be encountering inside. He seems to be looking for flaws in the illusion, signs that the veldt is not real, but he can only find one. The lions are aware of George, and based on the technological explanations Bradbury has given us, it must be George’s imagination that makes them so. Amidst all his anxiety about his children and their nursery, George might be having some “death thoughts” too, projected onto the wall when the feeding lions look at him.

He sees Lydia through the door, which he has made sure to leave open, eating “abstractedly.” This means Lydia is preoccupied, and we have further evidence that their life in the Happylife Home is far from happy. Evidence like this throughout this story suggests that the two parents are extremely worried about their children, who in turn are addicted to the nursery and ungrateful toward their parents. In the Happylife Home, the Hadley family is quickly falling apart.

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“You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important than their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there’s hatred there. You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun. George, you’ll have to change your life. Like too many others, you’ve built it around creature comforts. Why, you’d starve tomorrow if something went wrong in your kitchen. You wouldn’t know how to tap an egg. Nevertheless, turn everything off. Start new.”

Related Characters: David McClean (speaker), George Hadley, Lydia Hadley, Wendy Hadley, Peter Hadley
Related Symbols: The Happylife Home, The “Nursery”, The Veldt
Page Number: 22-23
Explanation and Analysis:

The psychologist delivers his final verdict about the Hadley family. As discussed above, the family's death is preceded by the fact that Peter and Wendy no longer need their parents. Dr. McClean blames George and Lydia for “letting” their kids find a replacement for them in the form of their nursery. Then, even worse, the parents try to take away the nursery. This is a pretty harsh judgment for a psychologist, who might normally spend some time exploring the ambiguity of their situation--but McClean isn't speaking as the Hadleys' doctor, he's speaking as their concerned friend.

Dr. McClean says they can feel the hatred from the Hadley children beaming down from the sun and the sky in the veldt. The emotional turmoil in this family is made real in the nursery, which functions as a metaphor for their inability to come together physically or emotionally. The psychologist goes on to recommend that they get rid of the “creature comforts” supplied by their Happylife Home and learn to take care of themselves again. He mentions an egg, just as George does when Lydia suggests turning off the home earlier in the story.

Even though he knows it will make Peter and Wendy hate their parents, Dr. McClean recommends that they turn the whole house off and start a new life. Of course, as we soon find out, it’s too late for these interventions. 

He stared at the two children seated in the center of the open glade eating a little picnic lunch. Beyond them was the water hole and the yellow veldtland; above was the hot sun. He began to perspire. “Where are your mother and father?”
The children looked up and smiled. “Oh, they’ll be here directly.”…
A shadow flickered over Mr. McClean’s hot face. Many shadows flickered. The vultures were dropping down the blazing sky.
“A cup of tea?” asked Wendy in the silence.

Related Characters: Wendy Hadley (speaker), Peter Hadley (speaker), David McClean (speaker), George Hadley, Lydia Hadley
Related Symbols: The Veldt
Page Number: 26-27
Explanation and Analysis:

There are few things more traditionally “innocent” than a brother and sister eating “a little picnic lunch” together, but we come to learn that Peter and Wendy’s picnic takes place next to a very brutal scene. In the climax of Bradbury’s story, it seems that the boundary between the real world and the nursery has been erased completely. George and Hadley have been sucked into the veldt and eaten by the lions, while their children eat a picnic nearby. Peter and Wendy are seemingly just mildly entertained by the violence they're witnessing, and completely uncaring regarding their parents' fate--this family was "dead" long before George and Lydia are literally killed.

Dr. McClean, who comes across Peter and Wendy after walking into the nursery, is hit by the “hot sun” that he earlier claims signifies the children’s hatred toward their parents. He seems panicked, urging the children to go, and Bradbury suggests that McClean might be about to disappear too.

The strange formality of Peter and Wendy’s speech, and their bizarre tendency to speak and act in unison, reemerge here. Instead of saying “they’ll be right back,” the two children respond: “Oh, they’ll be here directly.” In the very last sentence of the story, Wendy offers the psychologist a cup of tea. They continue to manipulate adults with a false innocence and a false politeness, emphasizing the horror inherent in human nature--if children can act like this, then nothing is truly innocent.

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The Veldt Symbol Timeline in The Veldt

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Veldt appears in The Veldt. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Veldt
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
...Home. Before their eyes, the blank walls of the nursery transform into a three-dimensional African veldt. George feels the intense heat of the sun and begins to sweat. He wants to... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
Lydia, still afraid, says that the veldt is “too real.” She tells George to make sure their children, Wendy and Peter, stop... (full context)
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...Wendy and Peter have been spending too much time in Africa. The animals in the veldt devour their prey right before his children’s eyes. George reflects that it is never too... (full context)
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...The children’s fantasy world, he reflects, is becoming “a bit too real.” Alone in the veldt, he can look back and see through the open door of the nursery: through the... (full context)
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...asks them about Africa, and the children feign ignorance, insisting they haven’t created an African veldt. Wendy runs to the nursery, and when she comes back, announces that there is no... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
George and Lydia can’t sleep. They agree that Wendy changed the nursery from a veldt to a forest to try to fool them. They don’t know why, but George is... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...he looks at his feet. He admits that he and Wendy have been creating the veldt in the nursery, and asks George not to turn off the nursery. When George reveals... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...Lydia invite their friend, psychologist David McClean, to examine the nursery. David observes that the veldt doesn’t “feel good.” A psychologist, he says, works based on feeling, not hard fact. And... (full context)
Consumer Culture and Technology Theme Icon
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...Wendy and Peter calling for them. George and Lydia run into the nursery, into the veldt, but their children aren’t inside. Then the door of the nursery slams shut, trapping George... (full context)
“Too Real” Reality Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Death of the Family Theme Icon
...and sees Wendy and Peter eating a picnic in a glade. Beyond them is the veldt. David, feeling the heat of the sun, starts sweating. He asks the children where George... (full context)