Free Study Guide: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury|
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THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES: FREE BOOK SUMMARY
Sam Parkhill, who wishes to take advantage of the coming wave of settlers
but must deal with the imagined threat of Martians.
The Martians, who wish to bring a message to Parkhill.
After killing several of their number, Parkhill is given the deeds to
half of Mars and warned of a special event that night.
The Great War explodes on Earth, dashing Parkhill's dreams of his hot
The very notion of a hot dog stand in the middle of Mars emphasizes
the absurdity and danger inherent in the colonization and despoliation
of Mars. Sam's rush to violence is an individual version of the aggression
taking place on Earth on a worldwide scale. If anything, Parkhill embodies
the worst kinds of hubris in mankind: a sense of entitlement to personal
advancement, an almost instinctual need to protect his own interests at
the cost of others, and a lack of vision about the consequences of his
actions. It is fitting, then, that he be one of the witnesses of the downfall
of his civilization.
Sam Parkhill admires his new business, a hot dog stand taking advantage of the hundred thousand Mexican and Chinese workers arriving soon and making use of the highway route on which his stand is situated. Elma tells him of a visitor arriving, apparently not for the first time: a masked Martian who asks a panicked Sam if he's listened to the radio. Sam informs him that his radio is busted and when the Martian pulls out a bronze tube, Sam shoots and kills in panic. Elma tells Sam the Martian wasn't wielding a weapon but bringing a message. It's too late, though, as a dozen Martian sand ships now approach the hot dog stand.
Sam gets in his own auction-bought Martian sand ship to escape, forcing
Elma to come with him. Another Martian appears on the Parkhill ship, insisting
they come in peace, but Sam shoots her as well. Sam does more damage to
the ships as they give chase, but they finally catch up and he surrenders.
Instead of vengeance, however, he is told to return to his hot dog stand.
Once there, he is visited by the Leader of the Martians, who gives Sam
a deed to half of Mars as something important is happening that night.
Sam anticipates great riches for himself and his hot dog stand, but the
event he awaits is the Earth exploding before his eyes. Elma wryly informs
him that there will be no new settlers and their hot dog stand will face
a very long off-season now.
This is the only time we are told of non-American settlers arriving to Mars,
specifically from China and Mexico. Whether or not they are meant to be
a new labor class for the mines or settlers with the same standing as
the earlier American settlers is unclear. The reasoning for the Martians'
behavior is unusual, appearing inscrutable if not a practical joke of
cosmic proportions. In this case, the allegory is certainly more important
than the logic of the story.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on The Martian Chronicles".
. 09 May 2017