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The Martian Chronicles | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | August 2002: Night Meeting | Summary

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Summary

Tomás Gomez stops for gas at a lonely outpost on Mars on his way to a party and has a conversation with a retiree he calls Pop. Pop says he thinks if people can't appreciate the way things are different on Mars, they should go back to Earth.

Tomás drives on and stops in an ancient Martian town where he witnesses a strange sight: a Martian operating an insect-like machine. They greet each other in surprise, and the Martian introduces himself as Muhe Ca.

It turns out each regards the other as a ghost because he seems to exist in a different plane. Each insists he is the one who is alive and about to attend a party, and the other must be dead. Muhe Ca says the towns are full of living Martians, but he cannot see the new human towns. They decide one civilization is living in the past and the other in the future, but they cannot agree and part ways as friends.

Analysis

While in the previous story, "February 2002: The Locusts," Bradbury paints a glum portrait of humanity's stewardship of Mars, he raises a fascinating possibility in "August 2002: Night Meeting." What if human activity on Mars does not actually affect the lives of the Martians whatsoever because they can peacefully coexist in the same space but on different planes of time?

Bradbury reinforces the utopian ideal of peaceful cohabitation by having arguably the two nicest ambassadors of both cultures, Tomás and Muhe Ca, be the ones that meet. Each expresses his interest in one day experiencing the other's culture, which is a radical departure from previous human-Martian relations. Even though one is human and the other Martian, Bradbury shows they aren't that fundamentally different. They both are on their way to enjoy a party with friends and flirt with women.

Upon close examination of each other, both see a "ghostly prism flashing the accumulated light of distant worlds." They are in awe of the other, and the doors of their souls open to possibility.

The characters of Pop and Tomás serve as gentler versions of Jeff Spender in "June 2001: —and the Moon Be Still As Bright." Pop speaks to the philosophy of appreciating Mars for what it is, but he does not use violence to get his message across, just friendly conversation, one customer at a time. And Tomás seems open to Martian culture without rejecting his own.

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