The Playground was part of the first hardcover edition of Ray Bradbury's legendary work Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. In the story, Charles Underhill is a widower who will do anything to protect his young son Jim from the horrors of the playground - a playground which he and the boy pass by daily and the tumult of which, the activity, brings back to Charles the anguish of his own childhood. The playground, like childhood itself, is a nightmare of torment and vulnerability; Charles fears his sensitive son will be destroyed there just as he almost was so many years ago.
Underhill's sister Carol, who has moved in to help raise the young boy after his mother passed away, feels differently. The playground, she believes, is preparation for life, Jim will survive the experience she feels, and he will be the better for it and more equipped to deal with the rigor and obligation of adult existence.Underhill is caught between his own fear and his sister's invocation of reason and feels paralyzed. A mysterious boy calls out to him from the playground, and seems to know all too well why Underhill is there and what the source of his agony really is. A mysterious Manager also lurks to whom the strange boy directs Underhill. An agreement can be made perhaps - this is what the boy tells Underhill. Perhaps Jim can be spared the playground, but of course, a substitute must be found.
©1953 Ray Bradbury (P)2014 Audible Inc.
This is a fantastic and spooky short story. It's got the really creepy feel you'd expect in a "spooky story", but it has another poignant element and works equally on another level.
[SPOILER ALERT] This is the story of a widower trying to protect his infant son from what turn out to be monstrous children on a diabolical playground. The story paints a picture of the father's desperation which leads him to undertake a fantastic sacrifice for his little boy.
When I read this story as a boy many years ago I connected with the bullied-kid-on-the-playground angle. Reading it today, being a middle-aged father, the story now resonates even more strongly with my paternal instincts. I completely understood and empathised with the father's need to protect his son regardless of the costs. The sacrifice the father accepts is a very touching element in an otherwise satisfyingly creepy tale.
I liked this, but did not love it. I liked the writing and the imagery of the playground as being one of the evil and difficult childhood memories. However, the story line itself was somewhat predictable. This was a short story and if I say anymore I will give away the entire plot, so I'll stop here except to say that I thought that the narration was very good and I'm glad I listened to it on audio.
From Wilm., De. Love reading and audiobooks. Other interests include cooking, attending cultural events, my dogs, birding, music and movies.
As a kid I always loved watching Ray Bradbury Theater on tv. Now, I know reading (listening) to his stories is better. I think this one will take us all back to familiar childhood times. A great short, worth a listen.
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