Marionettes, Inc.

by

Ray Bradbury

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Braling Character Analysis

Braling, the story’s protagonist, is Smith’s good friend and Mrs. Braling’s husband. He is about thirty-five years old and has slightly graying hair and “sad gray eyes.” Ten years ago, after presumably having consensual sex, the future Mrs. Braling threatened Braling with a rape accusation if he didn’t marry her. He agreed to the marriage to protect his business reputation and his parents. Even ten years later, Mrs. Braling is still as controlling as ever, and Braling admits that his wife hates him. He is only able to go out for a drink with Smith—for the first time in ten years—because of his new marionette, whom he calls Braling Two. The marionette is supposed to obediently stand-in for Braling when needed (like during the month that Braling plans to slip away to Rio) and be locked in the toolbox in the cellar when not in use. However, Braling Two falls in love with Mrs. Braling and consequently aims to take over Braling’s life. The end of the story is ambiguous, but it seems that the marionette succeeds in locking human Braling in the cellar toolbox and throwing away the key.

Braling Quotes in Marionettes, Inc.

The Marionettes, Inc. quotes below are all either spoken by Braling or refer to Braling. 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:
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Marionettes, Inc. published in 1949.
“Marionettes, Inc.” Quotes

“What did you do, put sleeping powder in your wife’s coffee?”

“No, that would be unethical.”

Related Characters: Braling (speaker), Smith (speaker), Mrs. Braling
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:

“[I’m] married to a woman who overdoes it. I mean, after all, when you’ve been married ten years, you don’t expect a woman to sit on your lap for two hours every evening, call you at work twelve times a day and talk baby talk. And it seems to me that in the last month she’s gotten worse. I wonder if perhaps she isn’t a little simple-minded?”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Braling, Nettie Smith
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

MARIONETTES, INC.

Duplicate self or friends; new humanoid plastic 1990 models, guaranteed against all physical wear. From $7,600 to our $15,000 deluxe model.

Related Characters: Braling, Smith, Braling Two
Related Symbols: Business Card
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

“It may be splitting hairs, but I think it highly ethical. After all, what my wife wants most of all is me. This marionette is me to the hairiest detail. I’ve been home all evening. I shall be home with her for the next month. In the meantime another gentleman will be in Rio after ten years of waiting.”

Related Characters: Braling (speaker), Smith, Braling Two, Mrs. Braling
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

“Thank you […] You don’t know what this means. Just a little respite. A night or so, once a month even. My wife loves me so much she can’t bear to have me gone an hour. I love her dearly, you know, but remember the old poem: ‘Love will fly if held too lightly, love will die if held too tightly.’ I just want her to relax her grip a little bit.”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Braling, Nettie Smith
Related Symbols: Business Card
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

“They didn’t tell me at the marionette shop that I’d get a difficult specimen.”

“There’s a lot they don’t know about us,” said Braling Two. “We’re pretty new. And we’re sensitive.”

Related Characters: Braling (speaker), Braling Two (speaker)
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

“Did my wife put you up to this?”

“No.”

“Did she guess? Did she talk to you? Does she know? Is that it?” […]

“You’ll never know, will you?” Braling Two smiled delicately. “You’ll never know.”

Braling struggled. “She must have guessed; she must have affected you!”

Related Characters: Braling (speaker), Braling Two (speaker), Mrs. Braling
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

Ten minutes later, Mrs. Braling awoke. She put her hand to her cheek. Someone had just kissed it. She shivered and looked up. “Why—you haven’t done that in years,” she murmured.

“We’ll see what we can do about that,” someone said.

Related Characters: Mrs. Braling (speaker), Braling, Braling Two
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
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Marionettes, Inc. PDF

Braling Character Timeline in Marionettes, Inc.

The timeline below shows where the character Braling appears in Marionettes, Inc.. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Marionettes, Inc.”
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Smith and Braling walk down the street together around 10:00 P.M. Both men are about thirty-five years old,... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
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Smith says he doesn’t know how Braling “managed” to go out tonight at all. He says that he’s been unsuccessfully badgering Braling... (full context)
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As the two men turn a corner, Smith says that he knows Braling has a terrible marriage. Braling tries to attest it hasn’t been that bad, but Smith... (full context)
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Smith continues, recounting how the future Mrs. Braling “tore her clothes,” “rumpled her hair,” and “threatened to call the police” unless Braling would... (full context)
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Smith reflects that the Bralings have been married for ten years. With his “gray eyes steady,” Braling says that all... (full context)
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Sighing, Smith says that he wishes he could go to Rio, too. Braling notes that Smith’s marriage “hasn’t exactly been roses” either, and Smith agrees. His problem, he... (full context)
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The two men arrive at Braling’s house, and Braling tells Smith that he will now reveal his big secret regarding how... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
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Smith exclaims in disbelief that the man in the window looks exactly like Braling. When Braling hushes Smith, Braling Two disappears from the window. Thinking he is seeing things,... (full context)
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Smith “stagger[s] back,” and his eyes “flutter.” Reaching out to touch Braling Two’s warm cheeks and hands, Smith asks where Braling got such a thing. Braling answers,... (full context)
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Still in disbelief, Smith asks how long “this [has] gone on,” and Braling answers that he’s had Braling Two for a month, but this is the first time... (full context)
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Smith says Braling Two even smells like the real Braling—“Bond Street and Melachrinos” (cigarettes). Braling admits that “It... (full context)
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After mulling the situation over for a few moments, Smith asks if Braling Two can go without some sort of “sustenance” for a whole month. Proudly, Braling says... (full context)
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Shaking with excitement, Smith asks how long Marionettes, Inc. has been in business, and Braling says they’ve been operating in secret for two years. Tentatively, Smith asks if he could... (full context)
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Braling says that Smith is actually fortunate—Nettie loves Smith too much, while Mrs. Braling simply hates... (full context)
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Smith walks alone in the street in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, Braling and Braling Two chat on their way to the cellar. Braling tells the marionette that... (full context)
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Braling tells Braling Two that he only needs to be in the toolbox for a few... (full context)
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Braling Two says he dislikes the thought of Braling spending a month in warm, happy Rio... (full context)
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Braling Two continues, saying that he’s “grown quite fond” of Mrs. Braling. Braling says he’s glad... (full context)
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Braling walks nervously toward the cellar door and stutters, saying that he needs to make a... (full context)
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Braling Two grabs Braling with a “metal-firm grip,” and tells him not to run. Braling asks... (full context)
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With Braling still in his grasp, Braling Two explains that he is going to put Braling in... (full context)
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Ten minutes later, Mrs. Braling wakes up to a kiss on her cheek. She whispers, “Why—you haven’t done that in... (full context)