The Other Foot

The Other Foot Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Ray Bradbury's The Other Foot. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Ray Bradbury

A voracious reader, the young Ray Bradbury was hungry for fantastical books that would let him travel outside the confines of his small Illinois hometown. Bradbury began writing short stories in high school, after moving with his family to Los Angeles in 1934, and sold his first to a magazine called Super Science Stories in 1941. Bradbury’s work initially appeared only in niche magazines specializing in fantasy and the supernatural. He quickly began to receive more mainstream attention, however, and in 1946 one of his stories was included in the annual publication The Best American Short Stories. The following year, his story “Homecoming,” published in the widely-distributed magazine Mademoiselle, received the O. Henry Award. By the end of the 1940s, his work was appearing regularly in many of the most significant magazines in America. Nevertheless, editors of major American publishing houses showed little interest in Bradbury’s work, preferring full-length novels. Bradbury struggled to land a contract until Doubleday publisher Walter Bradbury (no relation) suggested the author compile his many stories about Martians that had appeared in pulp magazines into a novel. This led to the publication of one of his most famous works, The Martian Chronicles, in 1950, as well as a contract for Bradbury’s next book, The Illustrated Man (1951). The eleven novels that Bradbury published over the course of his career all grew out of his short stories. The eighteen stories that comprise The Illustrated Man clearly retain their individual identities, while in books such as Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), Bradbury stitched his ideas together with strong narrative threads to craft volumes that read more like standard novels. Even so, Bradbury would never abandon the short story form; by the time of his death at the age of 91, he had published hundreds of such stories, many of which remain among the most beloved literary works of the twentieth century. His many honors included a National Medal of the Arts, a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, an Oscar nomination, and an Emmy Award.
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Other Books Related to The Other Foot

Bradbury’s novels all grew out of his own short stories, and his oeuvre features a web of connecting ideas and recurrent themes. For instance, a 1950 story titled “The Illustrated Man” (a precursor to the novel of the same name that was published one year later) features a carnival worker whose tattoos tell the future. Magical tattoos are also a crucial part of Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, which itself derives its title from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth—a play that Bradbury quotes in his story “The Exiles.” The examination of book burning that provides the backbone of “The Exiles” would soon grow into the novel Fahrenheit 451. Meanwhile, the many stories in The Illustrated Man that take place on Mars recall not only Bradbury’s novel The Martian Chronicles, but also the dozens of stories, sprinkled throughout his many collections, that unfurl on the Red Planet. Beyond Bradbury’s own work, “The Other Foot” is linked thematically to post-war books such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949), both of which similarly grapple with existential threats to democracy and human kind.
Key Facts about The Other Foot
  • Full Title: “The Other Foot”
  • When Written: 1947-1951
  • Where Written: Los Angeles
  • When Published: The individual stories were published between 1947 and 1951, in a variety of magazines; these were collected published as the novel The Illustrated Man in 1951.
  • Literary Period: Post-war
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Setting: Mars
  • Climax: When the white man’s rocket lands on Mars
  • Antagonist:
  • Point of View: Third person

Extra Credit for The Other Foot

Recognition. Ray Bradbury’s first mainstream success was a short story published by the magazine Mademoiselle in 1947. The editor who accepted Bradbury’s story was none other than Truman Capote, a then-unknown writer who would soon gain fame with his novels In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Hit Songs. In 1972, Elton John and Bernie Taupin composed “Rocket Man,” a song inspired by Bradbury’s short story of the same name. The song would go on to become a major hit worldwide, and one of Rolling Stone’s “greats songs of all time.”