The Other Foot


Ray Bradbury

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Themes and Colors
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Other Foot, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Revenge and Empathy

Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Other Foot” takes place on Mars, twenty years after all black people have fled the racism and cruelty of Earth to colonize the Red Planet. The impending arrival of a white man — the first white man to visit Mars since the black people colonized the planet — dredges up the Martians’ deep-rooted feelings of bitterness towards a world that denied their humanity. Bradbury’s story highlights the natural human impulse…

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The Inhumanity of Racism

“The Other Foot,” which draws its dramatic tension from the impending arrival of a white man to an entirely-black community on Mars, was published in 1951, thirteen years before racial segregation laws were abolished throughout the United States. Bradbury repeatedly evokes the realities of racism on Earth throughout the story, referencing both the historical scars of slavery and contemporary lawful discrimination against black people. By setting his story on another planet, Bradbury is also able…

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Humility and Forgiveness

Intimately connected to the story’s themes of racism and vengeance is the power of humility, as both Willie and the white man must overcome their personal pride in the name of peace and survival. Beyond an admission of wrongdoing, the story depicts humility as evidence of taking responsibility for one’s actions and a vital precursor to forgiveness and healing.

“The Other Foot” presents Earth on the verge of total destruction after nearly two decades of…

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The Individual vs. The Group

Beyond delving into racism and revenge, “The Other Foot” also explores the tensions that exist between individuals and groups. Throughout the story Willie holds immense sway over his fellow Martians, who are quick to give in to a mob mentality at the expense of independent thought. Willie proves influential enough to stoke vengefulness, racism, and cruelty in the hearts of his followers, whom Bradbury repeatedly presents as a single entity. Hattie, meanwhile, proves pivotal…

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