26 pages 52 minutes read

Ray Bradbury

Zero Hour

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1947

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Loss of Innocence

Innocence (and the loss thereof) is an important theme in Ray Bradbury’s work, including many of the stories set in Green Town, a fictionalized version of the small town in Illinois where he spent his early childhood. Bradbury’s exploration of innocence often centers around how a seemingly idyllic childhood can have a sinister underbelly, or how the innocence of childhood can be forced into a clash with the harsh realities of the adult world (sometimes represented by an extraterrestrial or supernatural threat).

“Zero Hour” invokes the loss of innocence in several ways. The fact that the story’s plot hinges on a game that the children are playing is essential: What could be more innocent than children at play? Mink and her friends are immersed in the fun of it all:

Oh, it was to be so jolly! What a game! Such excitement they hadn’t known in years. The children catapulted this way and that across the green lawns, shouting at each other, holding hands, flying in circles, climbing trees, laughing […]. Overhead, the rockets flew and beetle-cars whispered by on the streets, but the children played on. Such fun, such tremulous joy, such tumbling and hearty screaming (Paragraph 1).