The Last Night of the World

by

Ray Bradbury

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The Man / Husband Character Analysis

The unnamed man, one of the short story’s protagonists, is a middle-aged, white-collar worker living in 1969. He and his wife, the story’s other protagonist, have two young daughters. One night, the man has a strange dream in which a voice tells him that the end of the world is coming in a mere matter of days. However, the voice adds, the end won’t be violent or intense—it will simply be “the closing of a book.” Although the man thinks little of the dream at first, he soon realizes that everyone at work has had the same exact dream, including his coworker Stan Willis. Realizing the veracity of the dream, the man keeps the news to himself for four days before finally bringing it up to his wife. Although she pretends to be startled by the news of the end of the world, she eventually reveals that she, too, has had the dream. The man fluctuates between fearful anticipation and peaceful acceptance of the end. However, as the evening unfolds, the man comes to fully accept the end, which allows him to face the night bravely and calmly. He remains committed to his routine even in such dire circumstances, as he and his wife spend their final hours reading the paper, drinking coffee, listening to music on the radio, and sitting by the fireplace. While spending his evening “like always” shows the man’s bravery and calm acceptance of his fate, it also suggests that he is narrowly focused on his own life and comfort. Like many other people, the man is preoccupied with his immediate reality instead of being conscious of the state of the Earth and the global community—something the story suggests is the very reason for the world’s sudden end.

The Man / Husband Quotes in The Last Night of the World

The The Last Night of the World quotes below are all either spoken by The Man / Husband or refer to The Man / Husband. 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:
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of The Last Night of the World published in 1981.
The Last Night of the World Quotes

“What would you do if you knew that this was the last night of the world?”

“What would I do? You mean seriously?”

“Yes, seriously.”

“I don’t know. I hadn’t thought.”

“Well, better start thinking about it.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:

“Sometimes it frightens me, sometimes I’m not frightened at all but at peace. […] I dreamed that it was all going to be over, and a voice said it was; not any kind of voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

“Where’s that spirit called self-preservation they talk so much about?”

“I don’t know. You don’t get too excited when you feel things are logical. This is logical. Nothing else but this could have happened from the way we’ve lived.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

“We haven’t been too bad, have we?”

“No, nor enormously good. I suppose that’s the trouble—we haven’t been very much of anything except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of quite awful things.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do you know, I won’t miss anything but you and the girls. I never liked cities or my work or anything except you three. I won’t miss a thing except perhaps the change in the weather, and a glass of ice water when it’s hot, and I might miss sleeping.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife, The Girls / Daughters
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

“I wonder what everyone else will do now, this evening, for the next few hours.”

“Go to a show, listen to the radio, watch television, play cards, put the children to bed, go to bed themselves, like always.”

“In a way that’s something to be proud of—like always.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

“Why do you suppose it’s tonight?”

“Because.”

“Why not some other night in the last century, or five centuries ago, or ten?”

“Maybe because it was never October 19, 1969, ever before in history, and now it is and that’s it; because this date means more than any other date ever meant; because it’s the year when things are as they are all over the world and that’s why it’s the end.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

“There are bombers on their schedules both ways across the ocean tonight that’ll never see land.”

“That’s part of the reason why.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

“I wonder […] If the door will be shut all the way, or if it’ll be left just a little ajar so some light comes in.”

“I wonder if the children know.”

“No, of course not.”

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker), The Girls / Daughters
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

“I left the water running in the sink,” she said.

Something about this was so very funny that he had to laugh.

She laughed with him, knowing what it was that she had done that was funny.

Related Characters: The Man / Husband (speaker), The Woman / Wife (speaker)
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Man / Husband Character Timeline in The Last Night of the World

The timeline below shows where the character The Man / Husband appears in The Last Night of the World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Last Night of the World
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
A man asks his wife the question, “What would you do if you knew that this was... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
The man tells his wife that she “better start thinking about it.” Shocked, the woman says that... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
The woman is confused, and the man says he’s not sure what to think either. He has... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
The man explains that he had a dream in which a voice told him that “things would... (full context)
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Stan told the man about his dream. When the man revealed that he, too, had the same dream the... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
The woman asks her husband if he actually believes in the dream, and he asserts that he... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
The woman asks her husband if they “deserve” the end of the world, but he assures her... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The woman reveals that her dream happened just the night before, and that she didn’t want to... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
The man asks his wife if she’s scared, and she insists that she’s not, even though she... (full context)
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
The man asks his wife if she thinks they’ve been “bad.” She says no, but they haven’t... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Listening to the little girls laughing in the other room, the husband says that he always assumed that people would be “screaming in the streets” once they... (full context)
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
The man tells his wife that the only thing he’ll really miss is his family—and seasonal changes,... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
The woman wonders how everyone else in the world will spend their last night. Her husband guesses... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
Pouring another cup of coffee, the man asks his wife why she thinks the end of the world has to be tonight.... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Abruptly, the man asks his wife if they should wash the dishes now. The two do so and... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Before they go to bed, the husband and wife listen to music, read the newspaper, and sit by the fireplace. They think... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Self-Absorption vs. Global Awareness Theme Icon
...out of bed and goes to the kitchen. When she returns, she explains to her husband that she realized she left the water running in the kitchen sink and went to... (full context)
Fear and Bravery Theme Icon
Denial and Acceptance Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
When their laughter dies down, the husband and wife lie in bed together, with “their hands clasped” and “their heads together.” After... (full context)