The Visitor


Ray Bradbury

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Johnson’s Gun Symbol Analysis

Johnson’s Gun Symbol Icon

In Bradbury’s “The Visitor,” Johnson’s gun symbolizes the destructive nature of selfishness and greed. When five exiled Martian men confront Saul and Leonard Mark in a cave, they argue ferociously over who will get to keep the powerful visitor. In their greed, they fail to see Mark as an autonomous human being, instead viewing him only as a “treasure” to be possessed. Even as Mark proposes a rational solution in which each man gets to spend equal time with him, Johnson, the de facto ringleader, refuses, instead insisting that the men torture Mark into doing whatever they want. This greed quickly spurs violence, as the men turn on each other. Johnson pulls his gun from his jacket and begins to fire wildly, coldly killing another one of the men, Smith; his greed has turned him into a murder.

Saul then tackles Johnson to the ground and wrestles the gun from him, yet accidentally sets it off again in the process—shooting and killing Mark. This death, however unintentional, again reflects the corrosive, ruinous power of greed. In their desire to keep their “treasure” for themselves, the men have destroyed the very thing they desire most. Saul throws the gun as far away has he can and refuses to watch where it lands, attempting to distance himself from the dark impulses that have left them all “worse than lost.” It is too late, however; Saul knows that he will never be able to return to Earth without Mark. The damage done by greed and selfishness is total and irreversible.

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Johnson’s Gun Symbol Timeline in The Visitor

The timeline below shows where the symbol Johnson’s Gun appears in The Visitor. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
“The Visitor”
Selfishness and Greed Theme Icon
...a tense silence, Mark speaks up again, saying that one of the men has a gun, and the others must find it before it’s too late. At this, the others jump... (full context)
Selfishness and Greed Theme Icon grow confused in the midst of the blossoming city, yet Johnson keeps firing his gun. Saul rushes to tackle Johnson to the ground and wrench away the gun, which goes... (full context)
Selfishness and Greed Theme Icon
Meaning and Imagination Theme Icon
The cave grows cold. Realizing he still has the gun in his hand, Saul throws it as far as he can without watching where it... (full context)