Free Study Guide: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury|
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THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES: FREE BOOK NOTES
William Stendahl, who wishes revenge on Mars for those who censored
imaginative works of art on Earth.
Garrett, who embodies the censoring impulse Stendahl loathes.
Stendahl kills Garrett, among other representatives of the censoring
Like its namesake, Usher II is destroyed as Stendahl and his allies
Censorship, as well as the struggle between government restrictions
and personal freedom. These themes are complicated by Stendahl's murderous
plan, which brings up another theme: the zealotry of idealists in the
face of unswerving opposition. Like Jeff Spender of the fourth expedition,
he sees himself working for the side of justice; unlike Spender, he takes
a certain sick glee in exacting revenge. A related theme is the power
of creative thinking: the ability to imagine things which aren't logical
or rational can be used to great effect, especially against those who
lack such an ability. Often, Bradbury has heroes whose inventiveness aids
them in this manner; the same can be said here, albeit towards a more
With his architect Bigelow, Stendahl goes over the details of the completed Usher II, a mansion based on the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Fall of the House of Usher". Bigelow is unaware of either the author or the story, so Stendahl recounts the progress of censorship in the second half of the twentieth century, culminating in the Great Fire of 1975 when all imaginative works were deemed too dangerous and obliterated. With his personal library of forbidden works, Stendahl had moved to Mars to escape the Clean-Minded people but those people have arrived to Mars as well: Garrett of Moral Climates lands near Usher II and informs Stendahl that the building must be razed. Stendahl gives Garrett a tour of the mansion before it's destroyed; Garrett admires the creation of lifelike robotic creatures, even if he disapproves of their purpose. Stendahl has the ape strangle Garrett and, with the help of his robotics expert Pike, replaces him with a Garrett look-alike robot to return to the local office of Moral Climates.
At seven o'clock that evening, the party Stendahl planned began. Guests arrived, all of whom were involved in the censorship of the books Stendahl loved so much. He has them change into costumes and they agree, enjoying the novelty of the house and their experience there. Dressed as Death, Pikes informs Stendahl that the Garrett they killed was a robot; Stendahl takes it in stride, as this simply means one robot was replaced with another and the real Garrett, seeing nothing amiss, will be emboldened to arrive in person. He does so, bringing Dismantlers with him to destroy Usher II. Stendahl takes the real Garrett on a tour of Usher II, where guests claim to see other guests being killed - but told it was merely staged executions of robot look-alikes. Garrett accepts drinks offered to him and recognizes the executions from the work of Poe. Stendahl then leads Garrett down to the catacombs and chains him up, informing him that the robot look-alikes were the survivors and the real people the victims. He then proceeds to seal up Garrett as in "The Cask of Amontillado" and asks Garrett to recite the line "For the love of God, Montressor!" to spare his life. Garrett finally relents but Stendahl seals him up anyway, as in the story.
Midnight then strikes and the Red Death appears. Stendahl runs to a
helicopter being manned by Pikes and the two escape as Usher self-destructs
according to his plan. He quotes the Poe story as he makes good his escape.
The name Stendahl may be a reference to the French author Stendahl, whose novels The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma were thrillers full of bloodshed and intrigue.
The intellectually oppressive nature of life on Earth is not mentioned in
any other story explicitly. Such a concern of censorship and its impact
on humanity is also handled in Bradbury's best-known novel, Fahrenheit
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Martian Chronicles".
. 12 May 2008