28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

The Pedestrian: A Fantasy in One Act

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1951

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Literary Devices


Conflict is the problem or opposition that creates drama in a narrative. It is often divided into categories such as internal or external conflict. External conflict is further divided into categories such as person versus person, person versus nature, person versus technology, and person versus society.

In “The Pedestrian,” the protagonist confronts an external conflict that could fit into the person versus technology and person versus society categories.

The protagonist, Leonard Mead, is enjoying his routine walk when he is stopped by a police car charged with patrolling his futuristic city. The car interrogates Mead, but the reader later learns that there is no one inside, and that the car’s decisions are guided by punch-cards and electric eyes. Based on the unusual nature of Mead’s decision to walk, the car takes him to a psychiatric hospital. This represents a direct conflict with a technological object and contributes to Bradbury’s theme about The Dangers of Technological Advancement.

As an enforcer of the law, the police car also represents Mead’s society. Someone with power had to program it to arrest people exhibiting unusual behavior. It is clear from the way that the car responds to Mead’s explanations that the society demands conformity.