28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1949

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Story Analysis

Analysis: “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed”

The story is structured as a series of vignettes depicting key moments in the Bittering family’s experience in the Earth settlement on Mars. Beginning with the scene of their arrival, the narrative then jumps forward in time to describe the early days of their life on Mars, the arrival of the news that an atomic bomb has hit New York, and other scenes showing the family’s slow assimilation to Mars. These episodes culminate in the last scene featuring the Bitterings, when Harry and Cora look back on the abandoned Earth settlement. The twist of the final scene changes the orientation of the narrative; instead of centering the Bitterings, it unfolds from the perspective of the American military officials exploring the empty settlement. Their conviction that the people living in the villas are Martian and not the settlers from Earth is supported by the narrative structure; it is as if the Bitterings are now too “alien” to lend their perspective, so the conclusion to their story can only be told via the more accessible vantage point of people newly come from Earth. The cyclical structure of the story, beginning and ending with an arrival on Mars, is one of several hints that these newcomers will likewise adopt a Martian way of life, cementing the theme of Colonization and the