Melanie Alvarado 

Final essay, English 2001

December 13, 2020

Have a better life

According to Fernando Savater, “Ethics is nothing more than the rational attempt to find out how to live better.” People make daily decisions according to our ethical criteria, these decisions taken result from the different types of ethics that people follow to feel better. This essay explores different types of ethics found in the science fiction book “The Veldt” written by Ray Bradbury. The three different types of ethics that stand out the most throughout history are global ethics and utilitarian ethics. The author, Ray B. presents these ethics in the characters when they decide in times of stress.

The story is mainly based on a family, parents named George and Lydia Hadley and their two young children Wendy and Peter. The family lives in a smart house that does everything that a person is supposed to do, like cleaning or taking care of the children. The first type of ethics that we can find in history is Global ethics, since it shows us questions and ethical problems that arise from the global interconnection and interdependence of the world population. The problem that exists at the present time due to the advancement of technology. In the story, we can see how the author made parents make the decision to have a smart home to present the idea of how the advancement of technology in a home can led to problems in families, such as lack of communication and forming an obsession in infants to technology. This decision illustrates global ethics because it presents a problem that currently affects most of the population. As can be seen in the story, Peter, their son said, “That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and give myself a bath?” (Page 9). This actively illustrates that the child in the story is obsessed with technology because the smart home does for him the basic activities of a human being, leaving the child without a basic knowledge of survival. On the other hand, according to the book “The Veldt” it is mentioned “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone ” (Page 5) as for example, the obsession caused the children to stop having a sentimental effect on their parents. Creating a closer relationship with the machines than with their parents. Communication problems and obsession and dependence on technology are created by parents when deciding to buy the house to live better, but the decision was counterproductive, by complicating and adding more problems in the family. Therefore, the parents make the decision to leave home to stop having the problems mentioned above, a decision that is global ethics.

Another essential point is another ethical decision made in “The Veldt” is Utilitarian ethics. An illustration of this ethical decision, is when the father turns off the children’s playroom, making his children, Peter and Wendy cry and scream, until George decides to turn it on again on the condition that he says ” All right — all right, if they’ll just shut up. One minute, mind you, and then off forever ” (Page 12). A decision made at a time of stress by George the father, for his own benefit, although he knows that giving his children more time will hurt them. Furthermore, another idea presented on utilitarian ethics is about how, at the beginning of the story, parents feel that they have no function at home, the mother Lynda declared “That’s just it. I feel like I don’t belong here. The house is wife and mother now, and nursemaid” (Page 4) ergo, she felt the discontent towards not being able to do nothing and feel worthless. The decision that the mother makes to move out of the house with the family, is due to wanting the happiness of feeling useful in her home, so it is a decision that seeks to increase happiness, but it’s a decision self-interest.

On the other hand, we can observe a connection between utilitarian ethics and the spirit of perverseness. The children, Wendy and Peter, in the story decide to kill their parents, because they disagree with their parents, since they do want to live in the house with the technology. Children know that to get to live in the house is to kill their parents. “Open the door! cried George Hadley […] Why, they’ve locked it from the outside! Peter![…]He heard Peter’s voice outside […] Don’t let them switch off the nursery and the house, he was saying. […]Mr. and Mrs. George Hadley beat at the door. Now, don’t be ridiculous, children[…] And then they heard the sounds.[…]The lions. Mr. Hadley looked at his wife and they turned and looked back at the beasts edging slowly forward crouching, tails stiff. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed” The spirt perverseness connects with this scene because the children know they are doing something erroneous, but they do it anyway. Children make the decision to kill their parents for their own benefit even if others suffer. Therefore, both concepts don’t think about long-term consequences.

To sum up everything that has been stated, in the story “the prairie” the author represents two remarkable types of ethics, such as Global ethics as well as Utilitarian Ethics. Both types of ethics are represented through history, these are represented in the decisions made by the characters in the story. Each decision was made with the main idea of wanting to have a better life. This story shows the readers an example of what the consequences of the decisions we make daily could affect our life.