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Devastating Racism in “The Martian Chronicles” Essay

Martian Luther King Jr. enlightened us with his dream “of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.” The world watched his glorious speech, amazed with his fluency, honesty, and intelligence. People such as M. L. King Jr. revolutionized Black equality in North America. He contributed to the [almost] barrier free society for any race. Today, societal racism is almost obsolete and the majority of citizens are open-minded and accepting of different races.

Though as displayed in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, racism against African-Americans is evident in their society. Exploitation and Ignorance of this minority is also communicated. These three points are effectively displayed through the Caucasian characters’ thoughts, speech, and actions. More specifically shown through their ignorant thoughts, their unappreciative speech, their condescending actions.

Throughout North American history, racism has been a serious issue which has consumed many people a , yet destroyed another. Racism makes other humans beings feel inferior, this is wrong. This is frowned upon in our society, yet accepted in Chapter 15 of The Martian Chronicles. This short narration is called “Way in the Middle of Air”, and takes place in a fictional June of 2003. The entire chapter the author has devotes to all aspects of racism in its entirety., Displaying thought uses of extensive symbolism the author depicts the leaving of the African -Americans from their town. “And in that slow, steady channel of darkness that cut across the white glare of day were touches of alert white” (p. 91), the paragraph form which his passage was taken has allegorical characteristics. The use of light and dark [“White banks of the town stores, among the trees silences, a black tide flowed.” (p.90)], symbolism [“Brooks of colour” (p. 91)], metaphors [The Blacks’ are the river], similes [“Men sat like nervous hounds” (p. 91)] and oxymoron’s [“Cinnamon Roads” (p. 90)].

This section full of literary devices, is informative by depicting for the reader the level of extreme coloured evacuation. The Whites on the other hand are flabbergasted at the level of secrecy the African-Americans take on when attempting to migrate. The majority of Caucasians in this town consider themselves ‘better’ then any one black man, because of the colour of his skin. As Mr. Teece, a local white hardware store owner, tries to sabotage a young black mans chance of getting to Mars, he forcefully reinforces to the young man, that “I’ll let you go when I’m ready to let you go…until I say you can leave, you know it damn well” (p. 94). Mr. Teece, as well as the society enforcing this behaviour, believes that because Teece is white, he has the right to dominate and command a black man. The repeated use of the pronoun “I” suggest that Mr. Teece has a haughty demeanour. Also, the reference to “you know it damn well” is a cutting reinforcement, intended to make nervous Mr. Teece gain power in dominance.

The excessive belittlement and racism is taboo in society today, most racism that circulates is more subtle, yet still disturbing. In Canada, everyone is considered an equal; all races entitled to equal rights. In the un-model society depicted the Caucasians’ thought themselves to be a higher class citizens due to their race. They act upon this conception.

This novel was written in a time when the abolishment of slavery was a still a lingering issue. Slavery dominated the USA for generations, the concept is based on the very values of the town looked at in chapter 15. The slavery was abolished in the United States African0 Americans got [paid incredibly low wages for gruelling hard labour. In general, their work was work every penny, twice. In The Martian Chronicles Bradbury includes examples of these situations. Situations where the White folks depend on the Black people for [less-than]-minimum wage employees. Even though the Caucasians desperately need the Black workers, they treat them disrespectfully.

It is only when the Africans attempt to flee that they realize the asset they have lost. When Mrs. Teece discovery that her nanny/maid is fleeing to Mars, she reaches a state of turmoil. Heaven forbid she might actually be expected to cook! Lucinda Teece hurries down to the family store to seek comfort from her husband. “She’s leaving.”, she says worriedly to Mr. Teece, “What’ll I do without her?” (p. 92). This statement shows a lot about Mrs. Teece’s character. She feels inadequate to run a household on her own, keeping in mind she has probably never done extensive chores before. Also, Lucinda was probably never taught how to do the house work as a youth, her parents more-than-likely had help as well.

Not only is Mrs. Teece’s help leaving, but also Mr. Teece’s employee. When another young black man, Teece’s employee, returns upon leaving to return his bicycle, is confronted by Mr. Teece about contract conflicts. Though, it is obvious that the confrontation is mainly on principle and belittlement, perhaps Mr. Teece would have problems tidying his store or finding another employee. Even though both the Teece’s ‘need’ their Negro employees neither treats them with dignity. More so Mr. Teece, when referring to Silly as “boy” (p. 95) and commanding him rudely, “You still standing there!”. The Teece family will miss their obdurate help on the Black people fly to Mars. Many of the people of European descent in this town used and relied on African- Americans to complete hard, and unfavourable tasks. While the Blacks’ worked, the Whites’ disregarded their feelings, by speaking rudely towards their [now depleted] asset.

Unlike the other points of discussion, ignorance to another culture group is overwhelmingly evident in present day society and the fictional society devoured by the reader in The Martian Chronicles. As the Black people slowly migrate from the town, described as a “steady channel of darkness” (p. 92), the White townsmen are shocked. The Caucasian people do not understand the new found backbone or the other race. And they do not understand why the black’s feel a need to go. This ignorant opinion of Black peoples rebellion was common trough the early and mid 1900’s. As bluntly stated by Mr. Teece:

I can’t figure why they left now. With things lookin’ up. I mean, everyday they get more rights. What they want, anyway? Here’s the poll tax gone, and more and more states passin’ anti-lynching’ bills, and all kinds of equal rights. What more they want? They make almost as good money as a white man, but still they go.

This ignorant mans words show his blindness to equality, sadly this demeanour is generally accepted in his society. The majority of society are racists. The black people only want to be treated as absolute equals; contrastingly, the white people do not understand this concept. For they see the black’s as not equals but a lesser kind, therefore in there eyes the Black’s should not ask for rights, that they are not entitled to. Mr. Teece asks himself, “what the want, anyway”, perhaps if he asked a blunt educated Black man, the type of response would be, to stop referring to grown black men as “boy[s’]”; generally speaking to put an end to their condescending racial speech.

As the hurds of black families “engulf the town” on their way to Mars, the white men do not understand their reasoning for leaving. Mr. Teece and his buddies are ignorant to the general feelings of the Black community, and continually, treat Black’s condescendingly even as they leave.

In conclusion, the thoughts, speech and actions of the white man displayed exploitation, ignorance and general racism against the African-American race, in Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles”. This fictional society has barriers to overcome. If the racist people in this society can follow as quote of Confucius, “when you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self.”, racism could be abolished, and every race, creed or kind could live harmoniously on one planet.


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