Important Quotes and Analysis

1.) From the Prologue:

The narrator describes the tattoos on the Illustrated Man:

If El Greco had painted miniatures in his prime, no bigger than your hand, infinitely detailed with all his sulphurous color, elongation, and anatomy, perhaps he might have used this man's body for his art. The colors burned in three dimensions. They were windows looking in upon fiery reality. Here, gathered on one wall, were all the finest scenes in the universe, the man was a walking treasure gallery. This wasn't the work of a cheap carnival tattoo man with three colors and whiskey on his breath. This was the accomplishment of a living genius, vibrant, clear, and beautiful. (3)

The reference to El Greco is meant as a high art reference, further emphasized by the museum-like description of the man as "a walking treasure gallery". This is contrasted sharply to the conventional view of the tattooed man in carnivals, which paints a picture of tawdry dissolution. However, the danger of this more primitive tattooed man still exists in the Illustrated Man, as the Epilogue proves.

2.) From "The Veldt":

In describing what happened to the children, David McClean admonishes George Hadley:

"Where before they had a Santa Claus now they have a Scrooge. Children prefer Santa. You've let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children's affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there's hatred here. You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun. George, you'll have to change your life. Like too many others, you've built it around creature comforts. Why, you'd starve tomorrow if something went wrong in your kitchen. You wouldn't know how to tap an egg." (21)

The comparison of Christmas icons is quite telling, as Santa bestows gifts and Scrooge is given a chance to mend his stinginess. The parents, who were the Scrooges, weren't stingy with money but with the time and care they personally gave their children - attention given by the Santa of the nursery. The order to change his life and come back in touch with the simpler aspects of life, removed from the pampering of technology, is common in Bradbury and often just as blatant as in the closing part of this passage.

3.) From "Kaleidoscope":

As they hurtle to their separate deaths, Hollis muses on how his life compares to Lespere and how it influences their deaths:

So it was with Lespere and himself; Lespere had lived a good full life, and it made him a different man now, and he, Hollis, had been as good as dead for many years. They came to death by separate paths and, in all likelihood, if there were kinds of death, their kinds would be as different as night from day. The quality of death, like that of life, must be of an infinite variety, and if one has already died once, then what was there to look for in dying for good and all, as he was now? (34)

This issue of the quality of life - of leading a life without the rich experiences that Lespere claims - is likened to a living death.

4.) From "The Other Foot":

Willie Johnson's epiphany is described as such:

Willie stood there with the rope in his hands. He was remembering Earth, the green Earth and the green town where he was born and raised, and he was thinking now of that town, gone to pieces, to ruin, blown up and scattered, all of the landmarks with it, all of the supposed or certain evil scattered with it, all of the hard men gone, the stables, the ironsmiths, the curio shops, the soda founts, the gin mills, the river bridges, the lynching trees, the buckshot-covered kills, the roads, the cows, the mimosas, and his own house as well as those bigpillared houses down near the long river, those white mortuaries where the women as delicate as moths fluttered in the autumn light, distant, far away. Those houses where the cold men rocked, with glasses of drink in their hands, guns leaned against the porch newels, sniffing the autumn airs and considering death. Gone, all gone; gone and never coming back. Now, for certain, all of that civilization ripped into confetti and strewn at their feet. Nothing, nothing of it left to hate - not an empty brass gun shell, or a twisted hemp, or a tree, or even a hill of it to hate. Nothing but some alien people in a rocket, people who might shine his shoes and ride in the back of trolleys or sit far up in midnight theaters... (54)

Bradbury indulges his more florid style to evoke fond memories of earth, then contrasts it roughly against the more brutal memories Willie has of his parents' death and the men responsible. The long list that starts the first paragraph is meant to capture a sense of detail and completeness - both in his memory and in the destruction from atomic war. The paragraph then ends with a repetition of "Nothing" - a sense of finality and ending, paving the way for the redemptive new start that Willie finally wants.

5.) From "The Highway":

After the last of the Americans flee to North of the Border, Hernando looks around his home:

The rain stopped. The sky broke through the clouds. In ten minutes the storm was gone, like a bad breath. A sweet wind blew the smell of the jungle up to him. He could hear the river moving gently and easily on its way. The jungle was very green; everything was fresh. He walked down through the field to his house and picked up his plow. With his hands on it he looked at the sky beginning to burn hot with the sun. (61)

There is a sense of fecundity, of a pure kind of nature that stands in opposition to the cars and the highway and the more "developed" world of the Americans fleeing in fear of atomic war. Thus, when Hernando asks aloud,

"What do they mean, 'the world'?" he said. (61) There is a sense of the punchline in this closing question, further emphasizing the differing perspectives between the United States Citizens and the Third World native. The world is very much alive for Hernando, and that aspect of the world - perhaps the entire region - would be saved, as it isn't involved in the international political tensions that will lead to atomic war.

6.) From "The Man":

After Captain Hart makes his promise to track down the Man no matter how long it takes, Martin asks the obvious of him:

"Sir, when you find him - if you find him," asked Martin, "what will you ask of him?" "Why -" The captain faltered, opening his eyes. His hands clenched and unclenched. He puzzled a moment and then broke into a strange smile. "Why, I'll ask him for a little - peace and quiet." He touched the rocket. "It's been a long time, a long, long time since - since I relaxed."

"Did you ever just try, Captain?" "I don't understand," said Hart. "Never mind. So long, Captain." (76-77) The captain is aware of what he needs in his life - however, he is not aware of what he must relinquish in order to gain it. This is emphasized by the detail of touching the rocket - what gives him control and what he thinks will finally bring him to the Man, but actually symbolizes his inner corruption and takes him away from the Man. Martin's question about simply trying to relax - to relinquish control and simply trust in a higher power - is completely lost on the captain. Understanding this, Martin has no choice but to let go of the captain, too blind to his loss that he cannot even see its root.

Cite this page:

Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Illustrated Man".