28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1949

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Character Analysis

Harry Bittering

Harry Bittering is the leader of his family and the story’s protagonist: His children look up to him “as people look to the sun to tell what time of their life it is” (631). Harry is invested in the colonization project on Mars, saying with hope that “in ten years there’ll be a million Earthmen on Mars” (632). He keeps up his routine of life on Earth as if to comfort himself with its familiarity, reading the morning paper “toast-warm from the 6 A.M. Earth rocket” and then reading it at the breakfast table (632). When his son Dave suggests that there may be Martians who do not want the Earth settlers there, he insists, “[W]e’re clean, decent people” (632), suggesting that he believes the project of spreading the Earth way of life is justified and even valuable. Harry retains this investment in Earth life longer than any other settler, as evidenced by the fact that he is the only one working on the rocket he hopes will get them back to Earth.

While resistant to the changes taking place among the humans on Mars, Harry is also the only character who clearly observes them; the other characters hardly appear to notice any changes at all.