Literature Study GuidesThe Martian ChroniclesDecember 2001 The Green Morning Summary

The Martian Chronicles | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | December 2001: The Green Morning | Summary

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Summary

Benjamin Driscoll faints because of the thin air on Mars. A doctor tells him he might have to return to Earth, but Benjamin gets special permission to plant trees, and he feels it is his life's purpose to do so.

After 30 days of planting, it finally rains. Thousands of trees grow up from the strange Martian soil, providing rich air for breathing. Benjamin faints again with his lungs full.

Analysis

After showing all the ways a group of humans can have a negative impact, Bradbury presents a story of an outlier and his quest for enriching plant life in his new home.

While the rest of the first settlers are miners following the government agenda of exploiting and taking from Mars, Benjamin is a budding environmentalist who creates his own agenda of giving back to Mars in the form of seeds. Bradbury seems to treat The Martian Chronicles as a thought experiment on what Americans might do when faced with a new frontier such as Mars, and in Benjamin's case, his tenacity takes root quite literally and blossoms into an overwhelming display of success (at least in Benjamin's eyes).

His parallel to American pioneer Johnny Appleseed may be noble, but Bradbury seems to question his terrocentric ecology, especially if one reads the fantastical sequence at the end as merely a hallucination of Benjamin's dying mind. Benjamin envisions the "towns doors would flip wide" which points to his dream of settlers being more open-minded and accepting of Mars, and yet he, too, falls into the trap of wanting to remake Mars in the image of Earth.

This critique of terraforming puts The Martian Chronicles within the tradition of science fiction about Martian colonization, including earlier romances by Edgar Rice Burroughs and novels that came after Bradbury's book, including Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip (1964) and the later trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994), Blue Mars (1996).

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