28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1949

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Symbols & Motifs

The White Cottage

When the Bitterings arrive on Mars they build a “small white cottage and ate good breakfasts there” (631-32). The mention of breakfast links the cottage to the normalcy of their home on Earth—specifically, the routine of eating breakfast together as a family. Like the “warm hearth” and “potted blood-geraniums” that Harry checks on every morning “precisely as if he expected something to be amiss” (632), the cottage is a reminder of Earth and the lives they lived there, as well as a marker of the colonization project at work: The goal is to recreate American culture on Mars, and the focus on the cottage suggests a particular emphasis on exporting the nuclear family.

When the settlers move to the Martian villas at the end of the story, the significance of leaving the cottage is accentuated by the possessions the Bitterings leave behind in it, from the furniture they brought from Boston to Laura’s dresses. Full of their belongings from Earth, the cottage symbolizes the parts of themselves that are still linked to Earth, which they are now leaving behind. As Harry and Cora look back on the cottage from the Martian villa and comment “such odd, ridiculous houses the Earth people built” (644), it is clear that the Bitterings have become fully Martian.