28 pages 56 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

The Pedestrian: A Fantasy in One Act

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1951

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Symbols & Motifs

Viewing Screens

Televisions, also known as “viewing screens” in “The Pedestrian,” symbolize the rejection of critical thought and the written word, as well as social control.

Except for the protagonist, everyone in the story stays glued to their television screens at night, watching predictable shows that don’t challenge them intellectually. These include Westerns, quiz shows, slapstick comedy, and programs featuring murders. People watch their televisions like zombies, suggesting that the screens drain the life from their viewers.

The screens are also symbolic of the dangers of technology, since they are tools of conformity that keep people from acting independently. While thinking about the televisions, Mead reflects that no one buys books or magazines anymore, suggesting that screens have replaced print media.

It is important that Mead, who symbolizes free thought, does not have a viewing screen in his home because this differentiates him from the rest of society. In fact, Mead’s admission that he does not have a viewing screen shocks the police car more than anything else he says.

Mead’s Sneakers

Mead’s decision to switch from hard-soled shoes to quiet sneakers symbolizes the government’s desire to repress and silence its citizens.

Mead choosing to wear sneakers shows his awareness of his society’s social norms and the fact that he is violating them with his nightly walks.