Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the story “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury, which is part of ICSE Class 10 English (Treasure Chest: A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories). However, the notes should only be treated as references, and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
The story is set in the year 2053 in a city where Leonard Mead enjoys taking long, solitary evening walks despite the emptiness of the streets. On this November night, Mead walks through the silent city, peering down moonlit avenues and whispering greetings to the darkened houses. The city feels like a graveyard to him, with faint lights flickering behind curtains. Mead has changed to sneakers to avoid bothering any dogs with his footsteps. He checks his watch and wonders what television shows the residents are watching in their tomb-like homes.
As Mead approaches an intersection, he imagines the busy highways during the day now deserted at night. He circles back toward home, stumbling on uneven sidewalk. Just a block away, a lone police car suddenly turns a corner and shines a bright light on him, ordering him to stop. A metallic voice interrogates Mead, asking his name, business, and why he is out walking. Mead explains he is out for air and to see, and that he is a writer though he hasn’t written in years.
The police voice accuses Mead of having no profession and presses him on why he is walking. Mead repeats that he is just walking for exercise and observation. The voice asks for Mead’s address, then whether he has an air conditioner and a television, to which Mead answers yes and no. When asked if he is married, Mead smiles and says no one wanted him.
He is ordered into the police car. Mead protests his innocence but compiles. He realises there is no one inside the vehicle, which is remotely controlled. The car informs Mead he is being taken to the Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies. As they drive past Mead’s own illuminated house, he points it out, but receives no response. The empty police car continues on, leaving the silent streets behind.
About the author
Ray Bradbury was a renowned 20th century American author known for his creative works in genres like science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His short story ‘The Pedestrian’ depicts a dystopian future where even going for a solitary walk is seen as abnormal.
The protagonist Mead is detained and sent to an asylum simply for walking alone one night, which is now considered regressive behaviour in this isolated, technology-obsessed society. Bradbury uses this narrative as a cautionary tale, warning readers about the dangers of increasingly disconnected and self-absorbed lives.
The story serves as a prophetic call for the importance of community and human connection.
Additional/Extra questions and answers
1. Why are there no people outside at night in the world Bradbury describes?
Answer: In the world that Bradbury describes, people are not seen outside at night because they are all inside their homes, engaged with their televisions. The streets are described as empty and silent, similar to a graveyard. Leonard Mead, the protagonist, notes that in his ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he has never met another person walking. This suggests that the society has become isolated and disengaged, preferring the artificial interaction provided by television to real human connection.
2. Why does Leonard Mead wear sneakers for his night walks?
Answer: Leonard Mead wears sneakers when he goes for his night walks because the dogs in intermittent squads would bark if he wore hard heels. Sneakers also prevent lights from clicking on and faces from appearing, thus avoiding startling an entire street by his lone presence.
3. What is Leonard Mead’s routine for his night walks?
Answer: Leonard Mead’s routine for his night walks involves stepping out into the city at around eight o’clock in the evening. He would stand at the corner of an intersection and decide which way to go, although it didn’t really matter as he was alone. He would then stride off, sometimes walking for hours and miles, and return only at midnight to his house. Along the way, he would observe the dark windows of cottages and homes, likening it to walking through a graveyard.
4. How do dogs react to Leonard Mead during his walks?
Answer: During Leonard Mead’s walks, dogs in intermittent squads would parallel his journey with barkings if he wore hard heels. This is one of the reasons he opts to wear sneakers.
5. What is the condition of the houses that Leonard Mead passes by during his walks?
Answer: The houses that Leonard Mead passes by during his walks have dark windows. They are described as tomb-like buildings, ill-lit by television light, where people sit like the dead. The faintest glimmers of firefly light appear in flickers behind the windows, and sometimes gray phantoms seem to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain is still undrawn against the night.
6. When did you realize that there was no one driving the police-car? Why is it that the identity of the voice in the car is kept anonymous? Who do you think is actually “controlling” the car?
Answer: It is revealed that there is no one driving the police car when Leonard Mead looks into the front window of the car and sees that it is empty. The identity of the voice in the car is kept anonymous to emphasize the dehumanized, automated nature of the society. It is likely that the car is controlled by some form of automated system or artificial intelligence.
7. How is the repetition of the word “empty” particularly ominous at the end of the story?
Answer: The repetition of the word “empty” at the end of the story emphasizes the desolation and lack of human connection in the society. It adds an ominous tone, suggesting a world devoid of life and emotion.
8. Where was Mead on his way when he was stopped by the police car?
Answer: Leonard Mead was within a block of his destination, circling around toward his home, when he was stopped by the police car.
9. What is Mead’s profession?
Answer: Leonard Mead identifies himself as a writer when asked about his profession by the police car.
10. Why does the voice from the police car respond “No profession”?
Answer: The voice from the police car responds with “No profession” because magazines and books don’t sell anymore in that society. This reflects how society values or recognizes professions.
11. What does Mead’s profession reveal about his character and his place in society?
Answer: Mead’s profession is that of a writer, although he hasn’t written in years because magazines and books don’t sell anymore. This reveals that he is a creative and intellectual individual who values the written word. However, his profession, or lack thereof, also indicates that he is out of step with a society that no longer values such pursuits. The police car even states “No profession,” emphasising how disconnected he is from societal norms.
12. What does Mead realise about the car?
Answer: Mead realises that there is no one in the police car; it is entirely automated. As he passes the front window of the car, he looks in and sees that the front seat is empty, confirming that there is no human presence in the car.
13. Where is Mr. Mead going to be brought?
Answer: Mr. Mead is going to be brought to the “Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.” The police car informs him of this destination after he is detained.
14. What crime did Mr. Mead commit?
Answer: Mr. Mead is detained for the act of walking. The police car questions him extensively about why he is walking, and he explains that he is walking for air and to see. The car finds this suspicious and detains him, although it is not explicitly stated that walking is a crime.
15. What social trends does Ray Bradbury observe and see as potential problems for society? Explain why.
Answer: Ray Bradbury observes a society that is increasingly isolated and disconnected. People no longer go out or interact with each other; they stay in their homes, which are described as “tomblike,” lit only by the glow of television screens. This lack of social interaction and community is so extreme that the police force has been reduced to a single, automated car. The story also highlights the diminishing value placed on intellectual and creative pursuits, as evidenced by Mr. Mead’s obsolete profession as a writer. These trends point to a society that is losing its humanity, becoming more mechanical and less empathetic.
16. What commentary does Bradbury make about television’s role in society through this story?
Answer: In the story, Bradbury portrays television as a force that isolates people and diminishes social interaction. He describes houses as “tomblike,” ill-lit by television light, where people sit “like the dead.” The grey or multicoloured lights from the television touch their faces but never really engage them. This suggests that television has become a substitute for meaningful human connection and has contributed to the decline of activities like reading, as evidenced by the character Leonard Mead, who hasn’t written in years because magazines and books don’t sell anymore.
17. How would you describe the atmosphere established in the opening paragraphs of the story?
Answer: The atmosphere established in the opening paragraphs of the story is one of silence and solitude. Mr. Leonard Mead loves to walk through the city at eight o’clock on a misty evening in November. The city is described as silent, and he is alone in this world of A.D. 2053. The walk is compared to moving through a graveyard, with only faint glimmers of light appearing behind dark windows.
18. What does Mead’s “brightly lit” house tell us about him? What evidence in the story as a whole supports this view?
Answer: Mead’s “brightly lit” house stands in stark contrast to the other houses in the city, which are dark. This suggests that he is different from the rest of society, perhaps more alive or awake. The house being brightly lit while all others are dark supports the view that he is an outlier in a society that has become tomb-like and disconnected.
19. Bradbury describes Mead’s walk as being “…not unequal to walking through a graveyard…” In what ways is the city like a graveyard?
Answer: The city is likened to a graveyard in that it is silent, dark, and devoid of life. The homes have dark windows, and only the faintest glimmers of light appear in flickers behind them. The atmosphere is one of solitude and emptiness, much like a graveyard.
20. What is Mr. Leonard Mead’s attitude toward the shows on television? Provide support for your answer.
Answer: Mr. Leonard Mead’s attitude toward the shows on television is one of disdain. He questions what’s on Channel 4, Channel 7, and Channel 9 as he walks, rhetorically asking where the cowboys are rushing and whether the United States Cavalry is coming to the rescue. This suggests that he finds the content shallow and unengaging, a sentiment that is supported by his choice to walk outside rather than stay in to watch TV.
21. The voice from the police-car notes: “No profession” in response to the pedestrian’s statement that he is a writer. What does this particular utterance reveal about the society in which the story is set?
Answer: The police car’s statement that writing is “No profession” reveals a lot about the society in which the story is set. It suggests that creative or intellectual pursuits like writing are not valued. Mr. Mead hasn’t written in years because magazines and books don’t sell anymore. The society is described as tomb-like, with people sitting like the dead, ill-lit by the light of their televisions. This utterance underscores the lack of intellectual and creative life in this society.
22. What is the irony in Leonard Mead being taken to the “Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies”?
Answer: The irony lies in the fact that Leonard Mead, who seems to be one of the few individuals retaining human qualities like curiosity and the desire for social interaction, is considered “regressive,” while the rest of society, which has become isolated and emotionally vacant, is considered “normal.”
1. Why does Leonard Mead wear sneakers during his night walks?
A. To run faster B. To avoid barking from dogs C. To look fashionable D. To keep his feet warm
Answer: B. To avoid barking from dogs
2. What time does Leonard Mead usually start his night walks?
A. Midnight B. 6 P.M. C. 8 P.M. D. 10 P.M.
Answer: C. 8 P.M.
3. How does Leonard Mead describe the houses he passes by?
A. Welcoming and warm B. Tomb-like and ill-lit C. Colorful and vibrant D. Abandoned and decayed
Answer: B. Tomb-like and ill-lit
4. What does Leonard Mead do during his walks?
A. Listens to music B. Talks to people C. Observes dark windows D. Takes photographs
Answer: C. Observes dark windows
5. How do the dogs react when Leonard Mead walks by?
A. They ignore him B. They follow him C. They bark at him D. They run away from him
Answer: C. They bark at him
6. What is Leonard Mead’s profession?
A. Policeman B. Writer C. Teacher D. Unemployed
Answer: B. Writer
7. What is the condition of the city’s police force?
A. Fully staffed B. Cut down to one car C. Increased in number D. Privatized
Answer: B. Cut down to one car
8. What year is the story set in?
A. 1984 B. 2000 C. 2053 D. 2100
Answer: C. 2053
9. What does Leonard Mead compare his walks to?
A. A morning jog B. A graveyard walk C. A nature hike D. A city tour
Answer: B. A graveyard walk
10. What does Leonard Mead feel when he walks?
A. Fearful B. Satisfied C. Bored D. Lonely
Answer: B. Satisfied
11. What is Leonard Mead’s marital status?
A. Married B. Divorced C. Single D. Widowed
Answer: C. Single
12. What is the condition of the sidewalks Leonard Mead walks on?
A. Smooth and well-maintained B. Cracked and uneven C. Flooded D. Non-existent
Answer: B. Cracked and uneven
13. What does Leonard Mead do when he passes by houses?
A. Knocks on doors B. Peers through windows C. Whispers to them D. Ignores them
Answer: C. Whispers to them
14. What is the condition of the city streets at night?
A. Busy and noisy B. Empty and silent C. Crowded D. Filled with police patrols
Answer: B. Empty and silent
15. How does Leonard Mead feel about being alone during his walks?
A. Uncomfortable B. Happy C. Indifferent D. Scared
Answer: B. Happy
16. What does Leonard Mead listen to during his walks?
A. Music B. Podcasts C. The sound of his shoes D. News on the radio
Answer: C. The sound of his shoes
17. What does Leonard Mead occasionally pick up during his walks?
A. Trash B. Leaves C. Stones D. Flowers
Answer: B. Leaves
18. What does Leonard Mead think people are doing inside their houses?
A. Reading B. Sleeping C. Watching television D. Having dinner
Answer: C. Watching television
19. What does Leonard Mead imagine when he closes his eyes during his walks?
A. A bustling city B. A wintry, windless Arizona desert C. A tropical island D. A mountain range
Answer: B. A wintry, windless Arizona desert
20. What does Leonard Mead do when the police car approaches him?
A. Runs away B. Hides C. Stands still D. Walks towards it
Answer: C. Stands still
21. What does the police car ask Leonard Mead to do?
A. Show his ID B. Put up his hands C. Walk away D. Get into the car
Answer: B. Put up his hands
22. Where is Leonard Mead taken by the police car?
A. Jail B. Home C. Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies D. Police Station
Answer: C. Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies
23. What is the condition of the police car?
A. Manned by two officers B. Driverless C. Manned by one officer D. Broken down
Answer: B. Driverless
24. What does Leonard Mead feel when he gets into the police car?
A. Comfortable B. Angry C. Scared D. Relieved
Answer: C. Scared
25. What does Leonard Mead say he is walking for?
A. Exercise B. Fresh air and to see C. Socializing D. Work
Answer: B. Fresh air and to see
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