30 pages 1 hour read

Ray Bradbury

The Other Foot

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1951

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Symbols & Motifs


Rope is the central symbol of “The Other Foot.” It first appears among the supplies Willie gathers from the house; other Martians gather it up along with guns and paint in preparation for the white man’s arrival; Willie holds a coil of rope ending in a noose as he listens to the old man’s speech and Hattie’s questions. However, the rope was laden with meaning before the story began. Because of its consistent use in lynchings, readers in 1951 would have immediately recognized the significance of Willie hearing that a white man was arriving and dealing with the news by searching for rope. Rope was the final piece of the murder of Willie’s father as his body was dangled from a tree branch; rope was used to cordon off seats in theaters and on public transit to segregate Black Americans; and the Martians begin “roping off” these areas in preparation for the white man’s landing. On Earth, rope represented white authority and violence; on Mars, it reflects the same power in Black hands. By greeting the old man with rope already tied into a noose, Willie makes his intentions clear, and by dropping the rope at the end of the story, he demonstrates his change of heart.