Saturday, October 25, 2014

"The Smile" by Ray Bradbury

Deal Me In Lite, Week 17: "The Smile" by Ray Bradbury

This week I drew the 5 of spades -- and the picture is from a new "Zombie" deck of cards I bought last week. It's highly entertaining. Every number card has a different tip for surviving a zombie attack, and the face cards are zombies (of course). It's made by Bicycle, a company that has clearly figured out how to make people buy decks of cards they don't really need. Hey, it worked for me!

The 5 of spades corresponds to a little story by Ray Bradbury called "The Smile." The story is set on an early morning in a post-apocalyptic future. People are lining up in the town square, getting ready to spit at a piece of art which is eventually identified as the Mona Lisa. The populace is filled with hate and rage at the civilization that has brought them to their current situation, and they express this hate by holding "festivals" in which they deface and destroy all the items that represent the achievements of the past. Books are brought to be burned in vast bonfires (shades of Fahrenheit 451?), and a car is destroyed with sledgehammers in a "festival of science." Civilization is collapsing, and the populace is doing its best to help it along.

A young boy named Tom is participating in the festival today, and he's excited about doing so. However, when he finally gets to the painting, he finds that he can't spit -- he is captivated by its beauty. An announcement is made that instead of just spitting at it, the painting is to be given over to the crowd for destruction. This is merely a reproduction of the Mona Lisa on canvas, not wood, so the crowd falls to and soon rips the painting to shreds. Tom is caught up in the melee and grabs a small piece of the canvas. He doesn't look at it until much later that evening, after he has gone to bed. I won't tell you what is on the canvas (although I am sure you have guessed by this point), but it comforts young Tom and perhaps gives him hope for the future.

Not a tremendously awesome story, but I did like it.  It's well-written and worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard of this story but still haven't read it. What a great Ida for a story too! Earlier this week I picked up a copy of The Martian Chronicles and the recently published second volume (Bradbury Unbound) of his biography,which picks up roughly after Fahrenheit 451 was published.