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The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury

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The Martian Chronicles | Quotes


The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land.

Narrator, January 1999: Rocket Summer

The most important part of this quote, which comes at the end of the first chapter, is the word brief. Humans flying to Mars to expand their horizons starts off as a noble experiment, but the nobility of it does not last long.


The third planet is incapable of supporting life.

Yll, February 1999: Ylla

At first this may be read as a comical aside. After all, how many times must humans have said the same thing about the fourth planet? But in light of the nuclear holocaust that destroys life on Earth at the end, it takes on a more sinister foreshadowing.


To get away from wars and ... government control of ... art and science!

Pritchard, March 2000: The Taxpayer

Pritchard details the ills of humanity that individuals like him are trying to escape. But for Pritchard and others like him, there is no escape. He is ultimately a victim of a society that demands conformity.


It's not every day ... you get a second chance to live.

Martian "Mom", April 2000: The Third Expedition

Captain Black knows deep down it is not possible his actual Earth family has been resurrected on Mars, but he gives himself over to the illusion because it is so seductive. That the Martian pretending to be Black's mother says this—only hours before they kill him—is also a cruel bit of situational irony.


[I]t has to be chicken pox ... a disease that doesn't even kill children on Earth!

Jeff Spender, June 2001: —and the Moon Be Still as Bright

It offends Spender a highly developed race like the Martians should succumb to something as lowly as chicken pox. He blames his fellow humans for inflicting such a dishonor and wants to punish them for it.


Doesn't an old thing always know when a new thing comes?

Jeff Spender, June 2001: —and the Moon Be Still as Bright

When Captain Wilder asks Spender if the Martians know about the presence of humans on their planet, Spender speaks to the collective memory of a place or a people and they can sense danger even if they cannot defend themselves.


We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.

Jeff Spender, June 2001: —and the Moon Be Still as Bright

Spender is worried humans will ruin Mars. He says the only reason men did not set up a hot-dog stand next to an Egyptian temple is because it was too remote. Spender's crewmate Sam Parkhill later sets up a hot-dog stand in "November 2005: The Off Season."


There was comfort in numbers. But the first Lonely Ones had to stand by themselves.

Narrator, August 2001: The Settlers

Bradbury commends the few that are brave enough to set a new course instead of conforming to the crowd and waiting for the support of companions. He also recognizes how difficult it is to sustain the effort of striking out on one's own.


If you can't take Mars for what she is, you might as well go back to Earth.

Pop, August 2002: Night Meeting

It is clear Bradbury feels Pop has the right attitude to make it on Mars or in any new environment. He has the open-mindedness it takes to embrace a new way of nonconformist thinking for which Bradbury advocates and sets up the main scene involving another open-minded human, Tomás Gomez. Those who want Mars to be just like Earth are the problem.


'I can see through you!'

Tomás Gomez, August 2002: Night Meeting

"Night Meeting" is a key chapter that stresses the importance of empathy and communication in foreign relations, as illustrated when the Martian responds to Tomás: "And I through you!"

Both Tomás and the Martian appear to each other as semitransparent, allowing them to see "the accumulated light of distant worlds" within the other. This seems to indicate they recognize how much the other has to offer. If they had more time and were not rushing off to other meetings, perhaps they might have formed a friendship based on mutual understanding.


Mars was a distant shore, and the men spread upon it in waves.

Narrator, October 2002: The Shore

Bradbury reflects on how inevitable colonization seems once it is set in motion. Once humankind finds a new place to colonize, the process moves ahead like an uncontrollable wave.


[A]s if ... a whirlwind twister ... had carried the entire town ... [and] set it down.

Narrator, February 2003: Interim

People did not at all want to change themselves when they left for Mars. They brought everything with them including a replica of their entire Iowa town and were not open to what Mars had to offer, a close-mindedness that led to their downfall.


[T]here was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid ... of themselves.

Mr. William Stendahl, April 2005: Usher II

Stendahl gets to the root of conformity. A small set of people decide what to ban based on their own fears, and the rest follow the rules because they are afraid to speak up. This is the kind of behavior he sets out to punish in his new house on Mars.


He was melting wax shaping to their minds.

Narrator, September 2005: The Martian

Martian "Tom" conforms to the human's nostalgic memories and uses them as a mask to hide in plain sight among the humans. He does this involuntarily, as he cannot control whose identity he assumes. Although not intentional, this behavior is opportunistic, and conforms to the more negative aspects of the humanity that has infected him. However, he is portrayed here as victim rather than villain. Still, his need to conform to everyone's expectations overwhelms him and leads to his death.


But I mean you harm! ... I don't like strangers. I don't like Martians.

Sam Parkhill, November 2005: The Off Season

Sam Parkhill has an attitude opposite Pop's in "August 2002: Night Meeting." He states outright to a Martian he is closed off to Martians, and he will violently protect his close-mindedness. Sam gets his comeuppance for his hateful and trigger-happy nature when his hot-dog stand fails and Earth blows up before his eyes.

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