“The Veldt” Response
Whilst this short story was rather intriguing, my initial thought was whether or not it was a technological interpretation on “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which was published in 1892. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the woman becomes fixated on the wallpaper in a room in her house, convinced she can see things in it. The more her husband attempts to silence what she is seeing, the worse it gets, to the point where she begins to sleep less and can smell the wallpaper when she is outside of the room.
Near the end, she sees a woman trapped in a cage in the wallpaper and she attempts to rip the wallpaper off and free the woman — whom she views as someone struggling like herself — and ultimately goes insane at the thought that she is truly the woman trapped in the wallpaper.
Fast forward to 1950 when “The Veldt” was published and we have the perfect nuclear family save for their nursery walls and children allegedly killing them. Taking the imagery of the nursery walls and making it synonymous with the yellow wallpaper, I’m left wondering if the parents were truly killed or if the screams the reader observes are merely from the parents watching a scene of them being murdered by lions unfold.
Also, “The Veldt” has very vivid yellow imagery, similar to Gilman’s short story.
If we compare the ending of “The Veldt” to “The Yellow Wallpaper” and keep in mind the small descent into madness the parents and the woman have, it makes sense (to me) that the parents are alive and suffering emotionally from what their kids have been imagining for the past month. The technology of Happylife home allows the parents to witness their demise as if it were truly happening, and as they thought they were wonderful parents by giving their children everything they desire except basic human affection, they’re now seeing the psychological effects that had.
Whilst the two stories are not direct parallels for each other, these few similarities did help me understand “The Veldt” from a different perspective.
The strangest moment to me in this short story is when the parents are lying in bed and hear screaming from the nursery but don’t check in on their children. Why they’d remain in bed and state that the screaming sounds familiar — indicating this has happened more than once — but not make sure their children are safe makes no sense, unless they rely on the house so much that they assume the house is checking in on Wendy and Peter. If this is how they nurture their children, it makes sense why they’d envision lions ripping them to shreds.
I enjoyed the message that whilst technology is helpful, a complete and total reliance on it can do more harm than good. A common example I hear is how much screen time a parent will allow their children. Is having a child sit in front of a television all day truly parenting? Does it fulfill the need for human interaction? How much does informational and learning television shows truly foster further development? Despite this being written 70 years ago, these are still conversations being held today.