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Literature Study GuidesThe Martian ChroniclesMarch 2000 The Taxpayer Summary

The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | March 2000: The Taxpayer | Summary



An ordinary American citizen from Ohio named Pritchard comes to the launch of the third expedition. He begs to be let on the rocket because he fears nuclear war, and he doesn't like the state of society on Earth. The officials laugh at him, reminding him the first and second expeditions never came back. Pritchard theorizes Captain York and Captain Williams probably just loved it so much on Mars they never bothered to return.

When he becomes increasingly unhinged, the officials have the police drag Pritchard away. He presses his face against the back window of the car and witnesses the rocket launch.


Bradbury uses this short episode to reveal the expeditions to Mars might have a purpose beyond mere exploration. Pritchard gives voice to worries and issues of 1950s America: "wars and censorship and statism and conscription." And of course, the biggest fear: nuclear war.

Pritchard's prediction of nuclear war is blatant foreshadowing on Bradbury's part: nuclear war is what ultimately ends up destroying Earth. But like a modern-day Cassandra from Greek mythology, Pritchard finds his accurate prophetic proclamation unwelcome and unheeded.

Bradbury introduces here his particular dislike of government control of art, a topic he will take up again in later stories, most notably "April 2005: Usher II."

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