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The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | February 1999: Ylla | Summary



The Martian woman Ylla is married to Yll, but their once-happy union has settled into monotony and boredom for both. Ylla begins to dream of an Earth man, Captain Nathaniel York, who tells her he and his friend Bert have come from Earth. When she shares her dream and sings a beautiful song in English, Yll scolds her for being absurd and childish.

Then Yll overhears her flirting with Nathaniel in her dream. Yll reports the details she disclosed, including when and where the ship will land. The next day Ylla declares her intention to take a walk outside, but Yll forbids this. Instead, he leaves to do some hunting.

While Yll is out, Ylla hears what might be a spaceship arrive, followed by two shots. Yll returns, and Ylla laments she has forgotten the beautiful song.


Throughout the novel Bradbury sometimes limits his third-person omniscient narrator to one deeper perspective, in this case, that of Ylla. The effect is the reader is encouraged to sympathize with Ylla much more than with her husband, and because Ylla welcomes the arrival of humans, the reader is encouraged to as well.

Ylla can be seen as a stand-in for a typical 1950s American housewife longing for a bit of excitement and a stronger sense of purpose. "Marriage made people old and familiar, while still young," she thinks. She is nostalgic for the early fulfilling years of her relationship, which makes her especially susceptible to dreaming of humans. When her telepathy kicks in and she "sees" Nathaniel and the first human expedition to Mars coming out a rocket door while Yll does not, it makes her feel special for the first time in a long while.

At first dismissive, soon Yll begins to feel threatened by his wife's dreams and is forced to action. This is the same trajectory of the Martians' feelings about their human invaders in the subsequent chapters.

Yll's weapon is a common science fiction trope, the "bee bee gun." Although Yll must set the bee ammunition in motion, he can claim to be a mere accomplice as the bees are the actual killers. The Martians eventually use their telepathic powers in much the same way.

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