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.


The Pressure to Conform to Social Norms

The pressure to conform to social norms is seen in “The Pedestrian” when Mr. Leonard Mead is sent to a psychiatric center for the simple action of walking through the city at night. People in his society are expected to be home at night with their families, glued to repetitive programs on their viewing screens. Mead has no wife or viewing screen, and he enjoys being out in the world, using his senses and reflecting on others’ choices.

Mead’s non-conformity is humble and unobtrusive. In fact, since he has never met anyone else walking at night, it’s possible that no one even knows he is breaking social expectations. Nevertheless, his deviation is seen as incomprehensible. When the police car asks what he is doing and Mead says he has been walking, the robot responds with incredulity. It demands to know more: “Walking, just walking, walking? […] Walking where? For what?” (21). The repetition of the question indicates that Mead’s answer seems unreasonable to the law enforcement official, and a later question confirms this perspective. The robot asks if there is an air conditioner in his home, as if walking must have some practical excuse, such as escaping the heat.