In the short story, “Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed,” written by Ray Bradbury, Mr. Bittering and his family fled to Mars to escape the nuclear war on Earth. Mr. Bittering was worried about the move, but continued the plan because he knew it would be the safest place for his family. When they arrived, Mr. Bittering immediately regretted his decision, yet his wife convinced him the long journey would be worth it. They had planned to make it a temporary move, but their plans were changed when they saw a radio flash and all the rockets were destroyed. The family had to accept it would be more permanent than they thought. The wife and children adapted quickly to their new home. Mr. Bittering, on the other hand, took a while to accept his new lifestyle. The unfamiliar environment changed their physical and emotional features. Their skin had darkened and burnt, golden flecks shined in their eyes, and they grew taller and thinner. They had picked up the Martian language and Tim, the son, changed his name to Linnl which he felt suited him more. During their time on Mars, Mr. Bittering slowly appreciated his new home. The family had fully assimilated to Mars and the new culture. At the end of the short story, two men flew to Mars and announced they were there to rescue them because the war was over. When they arrived the men could not find any trace of humans except for the town and a half-built rocket ship. They found the native life, but did not realize the Martians were the humans that had moved from Earth. It was unclear if the men stayed and changed as well or if they went back to Earth not knowing what happened to the other humans. However, the men talked about the potential Mars had for other settlers which leads the reader to believe more humans would move to Mars.
In this project, students could work in partners or individually. During this unit, the class read multiple short stories by a variety of authors. They were given the opportunity to choose a short story they found most interesting. To introduce the project, a quick narrative of the short story was to be included. The second part of the project was to find 13 quotes from the chosen short story and explain why it matched the literary terms given. Next, they were to create an image that connected to the quote and explanation. Finally, students were to post the project on their EduBlog.
Quote: “The man felt his hair flutter and the tissues of his body draw tight as if he were standing at the center of a vacuum. His wife, before him, trembled. The children, small seeds, might at any instant be sown to all the Martian climes” (Bradbury 1).
Explanation: The Bitterings were astounded by the different environment when they landed on Mars. However, the dad, Harry Bittering, wanted to go back to Earth unlike the rest of the family members. He felt out of place and refused to settle since he believed that Mars was only meant to be inhabited by Martians.
Rising Action #1
Quote: “’Mother, Father – the war, Earth!’ she sobbed. ‘A radio flash just came. Atom bombs hit New York! All the space rockets blown up. No more rockets to Mars, ever!’” (Bradbury 3).
Explanation: The Bitterings had started their new life by building a small white cottage, but worried that Martians would resent their invasion. Meanwhile, Laura Bittering, the daughter of Harry and Cora Bittering, promulgated that they can never be rescued from Mars since the atomic war on Earth destroyed all of the rockets thus preventing the Bitterings’ return.
Rising Action #2
Quote: “Harry Bittering moved into the metal shop and began to build the rocket… But mostly they just idled and watched him with their yellowing eyes” (Bradbury 6).
Explanation: After Harry Bittering perceived the news that they couldn’t be saved by any rockets he was devastated, but decided to continue raising crops and children. However, after Harry saw the changed crops and flowers he refused to eat food that had grown on Mars. Thus, he decided that he needed to make a rocket in order to go back to Earth safely and asked other Earthmen to help.
Quote: “He saw their skin baking brown. And he saw the yellow eyes of his wife and his children, their eyes that were never yellow before” (Bradbury 8).
Explanation: The Bittering family noticed that the unfamiliar climate and soil had changed their food and their cow since it grew a third horn. However, the climax of, “Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed” is when Harry Bittering felt his bone shifting like gold. He noticed that his wife and his children had turned dark, gold, and metallic by the sun.
Quote: “But as he worked that night, the thought of the cool blue marble villa entered his mind. As the hours passed, the rocket seemed less important” (Bradbury 9).
Explanation: When Harry was building the rocket he had a change of heart and decided he wanted to go to the villa and leave their village behind. His thoughts of wanting to leave Mars had disappeared and his half built rocket was left behind. Every Earthman had packed up, left to the villa, and became Martians.
Quote: “But the American-built town of cottages, peach trees, and theatres was silent. They found a half-finished rocket frame, rusting in an empty shop” (Bradbury 11).
Explanation: Five years later, the atomic war on Earth had ended and was able to create rockets to rescue Earthmen on Mars. The men on Earth went to rescue the people that had evacuated, but there were no Earthmen to be found. All they found were Martians with English settlement and a great affinity for the English language.
Quote: “The wind blew, whining. At any moment the Martian air might draw his soul from him… He looked at Martian hills that time had worn with a crushing pressure of years. He saw the old cities, lost and lying like children’s delicate bones among the blowing lakes of grass” (Bradbury 1).
Explanation: The physical setting of the story explains the difference between Earth and Mars. Mars gave an empty and hollow feeling as the whistling wind blew past. Like a ghost town, no one had visited in years, everything was perfectly placed waiting for settlers.
Quote: “In a mountain stream, being washed away. We don’t belong here. We’re Earth people. This is Mars. It was meant for Martians. For heaven’s sake, Cora, let’s buy tickets for home!” (Bradbury 2).
Explanation: At the beginning, Mr. Bittering felt he did not belong on Mars. He felt disconnected from Earth and all he knew. Mr. Bittering was feeling out of place and wanted to go back home where he felt most safe.
Quote: “Let’s get back on the rocket” (Bradbury 1).
Explanation: When the Bitterings arrived on Mars the moment Mr. Bittering saw his new home he did not want to stay. The conflict in the story was person versus self which is between Mr. Bittering and himself. He wanted to fly home to Earth however, he knew it wasn’t safe to go back. He adapted to Mars for the safety of his family as he fought the urge to flee.
Quote: ”Lots to be done, Lieutenant” (Bradbury 12).
Explanation: The ending type for, “Dark They Were and Golden Eyed” was unresolved. The reader does not know if the humans saved the family or if the humans settled on Mars and changed as well. Regarding the quote, the two men mentioned progress to be made such as remapping, renaming, and setting up resource mines. It was unclear if the men continued the colonization of Mars.
Quote: “You think those Martians killed them?… Chances are a plague did this town in, sir. Perhaps. I suppose this is one of those mysteries we’ll never solve” (Bradbury 12).
Explanation: This is an example of dramatic irony because the readers know the family adapted to Mars, changing their physical and emotional characteristics. However, when the humans arrived they did not know they had changed. The men found what they thought was native life, but was actually the Bittering family and others that had moved from Earth.
Quote: “A radio flash just came. Atom bombs hit New York! All the space rockets blown up. No more rockets to Mars, ever!” (Bradbury 3).
Explanation: Suspense techniques that are related to this quote are high stakes and complicated matters. When the family moved to Mars they expected it to be short term and that one day the Earth would be safe. When the kids saw the flash and all the rockets destroyed their last bit of hope to return was gone. They would need to adapt to Mars and accept that it would be their home longer than anticipated.
Quote: “Mr. Bittering felt his bones shifted, shaped, melted like gold. His wife, lying beside him, was dark… Dark she was, and golden, burnt almost black by the sun, sleeping, and the children metallic in their beds” (Bradbury 6).
Explanation: Bradbury used direct characterization here as he described how the family’s physical appearance was changing. Mr. Bittering felt his body shift and form due to the different environment. The author also mentioned how dark their skin was turning and that the children were metallic.