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Literature Study GuidesThe Martian ChroniclesApril 2003 The Musicians Summary

The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | April 2003: The Musicians | Summary



American children from the new towns on Mars go out to entertain themselves, sent from their homes by their parents with packed lunches and stern warnings to stay out of the old Martian cities. They ignore their parents and go into the houses of the dead anyway, spurring one another on. The first one in gets to be the musician and "play" the "white xylophone bones," and the others join in for a full-fledged concert.

By the end of the year, however, the "Firemen" have cleared all the alien bones, and the children must find other pastimes.


It is difficult to imagine anything more disrespectful than making the death of a species into a game, "played by boys whose stomachs gurgled with orange pop." Bradbury juxtaposes the boys' gnashing of the "odorous liverwurst and red catsup and white bread" with their kicking up of the black dead ash to create a feeling of revulsion in the reader for their dishonorable behavior.

The Martian remains are referred to twice as being like autumn leaves, dry and brittle and dying. This serves as another reminder the Martians' dominion over their own planet is coming to an end thanks to human intervention.

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