30 pages 1 hour read

Ray Bradbury

The Other Foot

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1951

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Story Analysis

Analysis: “The Other Foot”

Revenge and Empathy is a key theme in “The Other Foot.” However, the story is not structured like a revenge narrative. Classic revenge dramas such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1603) begin by presenting the reason for revenge. In these stories, the audience is either directly shown or explicitly told the protagonist’s reason for seeking revenge, and this revelation is the inciting incident that sets the plot in motion. For example, in Hamlet, the play begins with the appearance of the dead king’s ghost and his charge to Hamlet to avenge his murder. Hamlet’s quest for revenge is framed, at least initially, as an attempt to set things right.

“The Other Foot”, in contrast, does not begin with the racism that drives Willie to seek revenge. At the beginning of the story, that violence is well in the past; the Martians are living peaceful, ordinary lives when they hear of the impending arrival of the white man’s rocket. The children playing outside Hattie’s kitchen have never seen a white person and laugh incredulously at her descriptions of pale skin. They don’t understand why their parents want them to stay in the house and not see the visitor land.