Marionettes, Inc.

by

Ray Bradbury

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Smith is Braling’s good friend and Nettie Smith’s husband. He’s about thirty-five years old and has been married for ten years. He feels suffocated by his wife, who constantly dotes on him and overwhelms him with affection. Smith craves a short “respite” from her—even just one night per month—and consequently decides to buy a marionette of his own to let him do so. However, it’s notable that Smith is willing to spend eight thousand dollars (more than half of the couple’s fifteen-thousand-dollar savings) for this short break, which suggests that he actually wishes to escape his wife more than one night per month. Smith seems like a controlling husband, seen by the way he accuses Nettie of buying a small vacation home by the Hudson River without his permission, and the implication that he’s been ignoring her dreams about the Hudson (just as Mrs. Braling impedes Braling from going to Rio). He’s also horrified when he realizes that Nettie tapped into their savings account, even though he was about to secretly do the very same thing. Even though he resents his wife in many ways, Smith knows that he should be grateful for her love and loyalty. Even though it’s been ten years, he still can’t believe that Nettie chose him instead of Bud Chapman, a man she used to like.

Smith Quotes in Marionettes, Inc.

The Marionettes, Inc. quotes below are all either spoken by Smith or refer to Smith. 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:

“Really, you make me feel like a criminal. You have been such a good, loving wife. Sometimes it is impossible for me to believe you married me instead of that Bud Chapman you once liked. It seems that in the last month you have loved me more wildly than ever before.”

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Nettie Smith, Bud Chapman
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

And then, the horrid thought. And then the terror and the loneliness engulfed him. And then the fever and disillusionment. For, without desiring to do so, he bent forward and yet forward again until his fevered ear was resting firmly and irrevocably upon her round pink bosom. “Nettie!” he cried.

Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick.

Related Characters: Smith (speaker), Nettie Smith
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Marionettes, Inc. LitChart as a printable PDF.
Marionettes, Inc. PDF

Smith Character Timeline in Marionettes, Inc.

The timeline below shows where the character Smith appears in Marionettes, Inc.. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“Marionettes, Inc.”
Control Theme Icon
Smith and Braling walk down the street together around 10:00 P.M. Both men are about thirty-five... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Control Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith says he doesn’t know how Braling “managed” to go out tonight at all. He says... (full context)
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
As the two men turn a corner, Smith says that he knows Braling has a terrible marriage. Braling tries to attest it hasn’t... (full context)
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith continues, recounting how the future Mrs. Braling “tore her clothes,” “rumpled her hair,” and “threatened... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith reflects that the Bralings have been married for ten years. With his “gray eyes steady,”... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Sighing, Smith says that he wishes he could go to Rio, too. Braling notes that Smith’s marriage... (full context)
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
The two men arrive at Braling’s house, and Braling tells Smith that he will now reveal his big secret regarding how he snuck out of the... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith exclaims in disbelief that the man in the window looks exactly like Braling. When Braling... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith “stagger[s] back,” and his eyes “flutter.” Reaching out to touch Braling Two’s warm cheeks and... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Still in disbelief, Smith asks how long “this [has] gone on,” and Braling answers that he’s had Braling Two... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith says Braling Two even smells like the real Braling—“Bond Street and Melachrinos” (cigarettes). Braling admits... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Shaking with excitement, Smith asks how long Marionettes, Inc. has been in business, and Braling says they’ve been operating... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Braling says that Smith is actually fortunate—Nettie loves Smith too much, while Mrs. Braling simply hates Braling. Smith says... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Walking down the street, Smith smiles to himself and begins to whistle quietly, business card in hand. The card reads,... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Smith thinks to himself that he doesn’t wish to seem “ungrateful.” Turning the business card over,... (full context)
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Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith arrives at his house and wanders into his bedroom and finds Nettie—“pale, huge, and piously... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Crying, Smith suddenly feels like he wants to rip up the business card and forget about the... (full context)
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Humming, Smith opens his desk drawer and reaches in for the bankbook. He tells himself that he’s... (full context)
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Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Smith runs back into the bedroom, yelling for Nettie to wake up explain what she’s done... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Control Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Suddenly, Smith has a “horrid thought,” and “terror and loneliness” overwhelm him, followed by “fever and disillusionment.”... (full context)
The Cost of Technology Theme Icon
Control Theme Icon
Secrecy and Deception Theme Icon
Smith walks alone in the street in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, Braling and Braling... (full context)