As I’m sure most of you readers have heard, Ray Bradbury passed away on June 6th at the age of 91. Ray Bradbury was best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. Many of his works have been adapted to television shows or movies. He is one of those rare authors that almost everyone has read, or at least heard of. For many, his stories are their first foray into reading non-school required books. Fahrenheit 451 appeals to many with its warnings about censorship and the horrific idea of book burning.
Personally, though, I have to say that the story that affected me the most was his short story, “There Will Come Soft Rains.” I read this story for my 10th grade English class. The images he invoked sent chills down my spine. As the silhouettes were imprinted on the house, so too has this story been imprinted onto my psyche.
Because Bradbury’s work has affected most everyone someway or another, I asked the students and staff if they wanted to write up their own memorials for this prolific and influential author. Below are their responses:
Anna Braswell, Intern:
My exposure to Ray Bradbury was nonexistent until college, and even then, it was only the name of titles I was only vaguely familiar with: Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Martian Chronicles. But then I sat down and studied his work, and began to see a common theme of people in power refusing to accept change, and forcing the people under his power to live under strict guidelines with no wiggle room, and with no creativity allowed. As someone who thrives on creativity, the dystopia Bradbury creates in his works kinda grates on my nerves; book burning, really?
But the people in his stories, those in Fahrenheit 451 especially, learn what power is held in words, and that is inspiring to a logophile like me. The firefighters were forced to burn the books in order to suppress the people’s creativity and keep them in the dark, and the people were happy with their situation because they didn’t possess the resources to know better. But the people persevere, and literally become the books, memorizing them in order to keep the words alive. That is crazy amazing. I mean, how difficult must it be to memorize an entire book? But the people do that because of the power of words, and as a writer, that is the power I am constantly in awe of, and try to harness in my own work.
Coty Sugg, Intern:
I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury’s work when I was in in middle school. For one of my English classes, we read Fahrenheit 451, a piece which has remained a seminal favorite of mine. It was the first time I really examined the kind of freedoms that I had as a citizen and a reader, and how those freedoms often end up neglected. Like Orson Well’s 1984, Fahrenheit 451 was a dark and rather depressing piece that showed a bleak and desperate future that I hoped to never be a part of. Despite the harsh censorships laws presented in the book, it was reassuring to know that mankind still fought for their right to read in some clever and inventive ways.
I’m also a fan of several of Bradbury’s short stories, but the one that has stuck with me the most is The Veldt. This is one of the first times I realized how scary the minds and emotions of children can be. The thought of young children becoming so enamored with an artificial program to the point where they view it as their parent over their actual parents is disturbing in its own right. It’s the fate of the parents however, made even grimmer by Bradbury’s subtle but powerful foreshadowing, that really unnerves you.
While Ray Bradbury will certainly be missed, he leaves behind a body work that people will continue to read for years to come. Here’s to hoping that future generations will be inspired and moved by his works the same way I and so many others have been.
Through his work, Ray Bradbury will live forever (and let us hope that none one will have to memorize his works to continue the tradition)
What is your favorite Ray Bradbury story? How has his work influenced you? Let us know in the comments!