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Ms.

McMillan “The Flying Machine” Ray Bradbury Summary:
"The Flying Machine" (Description of Story)* "The Flying Machine" is a story that considers the nature of peace and progress while subtly exploring the themes of personal and political responsibility. The story recounts the events of a single day and the difficult decision made by a fictional emperor in 5th century China. While the Emperor is enjoying the tranquility of the morning, a servant rushes in to tell him about a "miracle." After several attempts, the servant finally rouses the Emperor to look at the miracle in the sky: a man flying with wings fashioned from paper and bamboo. The emperor is stunned, then demands that the inventor be brought to him. The Emperor decrees that the man and his invention be destroyed because the progress symbolized by the flying machine threatens both the Emperor's way of life and the wellbeing of his people. In order to illustrate his point to the inventor, the Emperor shows an invention of his own that mirrors the natural world: a wind-up box containing small trees and miniature flying birds. The inventor tries to convince the Emperor that his flying machine, like the Emperor's invention, is a thing of beauty. The Emperor, however, chooses to protect the peace of his dominion from the possibility of future invasion, and sacrifices the momentary beauty provided by the flying machine. The story ends with the Emperor enjoying the peaceful miniature world inside his wind-up box.

Major Themes and Ideas: 1. Is it ethically right to improve technology without knowing the possible effects of machines and the impact on humanity? (Humans greed for the best clouds their judgment) The author explores the “should” question involving machines and technology by weighing the benefits of a machine against its drawbacks. On one hand, a man creates a flying apparatus of reeds and paper. With it, he is able to fly in the sky and explore all the beauty of the world. The inventor only sees the “good” in the machine. However, the emperor worries that the flying machine will fall into evil hands and be used to destroy his people. On the other hand, the emperor has a machine of his own: a scene created mechanically that is suppose to create happiness for its viewer. The emperor makes the decision to eliminate the machine that has the potential for destruction in order to protect his people. At the same time, he continues to treasure the machine that poses
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serene and tranquil. this is significant because it suggests rebirth and new beginnings. police officers and fire fighters risk their lives every day to ensure that many more survive. There is no other physical description in this story of him. one could conclude that it is February 1st. The mood becomes tense at times as people are executed. into the story for the audience’s reference.D. Soldiers. The inventor’s life is sacrificed to save the lives of millions who could be killed by the flying machine. the Emperor is so terrified of the knowledge and power that the inventor possesses that he is willing to kill him to protect his people. It juxtaposes the natural world of the setting to the mechanical world of the inventor. Setting: The time period for this story is 400 A. The difference in this story is that the inventor did not voluntarily put himself into this position. However.no threat to humanity. He is an old man who likes to drink tea and has a fan. The atmosphere of the story is peaceful. the time could also be based on the Chinese Lunar calendar. Major Characters: 1. it could be spring or summer.D. However. probably so as to keep focus on the 2 . Many leaders are faced with this kind of decision regularly where the lives of a few are sacrificed to save the lives of many. making it later than February 1st. The Emperor of China (Yuan) in 400 A. 2. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. the emperor has imposed his ethical ideas on the whole group to ensure their safety and remain in power even though this might not be the best judgment in the situation. but because we don’t know what crop is being referred to. Because the Julian calendar is being referred to here. it is also possible that while the narrator placed the 400 A. Therefore. The place is the emperor’s palace in the countryside with the Great Wall of China nearby.D. The land is readying itself towards the harvest.

Similarly. Therefore. The incident that gets the plot rolling is the servant informing the emperor of his discovered miracle. Plot: 1. He is also fair when he spares the lives of the servants. stem cell research. The Servant The servant is a loyal person to the throne. 3. The servant is also smart enough to consider his self-preservation by promising never to speak of this creation again. There are no physical details of the inventor provided in the story because this puts more emphasis on the invention itself and not the character. 2.setting and the dialogue between characters. The reader wonders what miracle could have occurred and continues to read on. He respects the emperor. Juxtaposition is created between the servant and the emperor highlighting how cruel the emperor is. nuclear technology and cloning). but he only chooses to see how his invention will help him to enjoy life better than the potential for danger that his creation could trigger. 3 . He is thoughtful and does not react to a situation before careful reflection. He is quick to report his findings to the emperor and he is patient and respectful towards the emperor’s hesitation and reflection regarding the machine. He knows enough to ask for mercy from the emperor but he fails to see the harm his invention could cause. He is also not described because then the reader can identify more with the character since they can see themselves as that character. he is narrow-minded and looks at his creation with tunnelvision. He respects and enjoys the simple things in life. The Emperor sees the advantages and drawbacks of the machine but makes the decision to destroy it because of its potential threat to take lives. The Inventor The inventor is a man with much talent. there is no physical description of him because he is a secondary character. The Emperor embodies the ethical dilemmas that a society must face when it questions whether technology should be introduced or enhanced. This attitude can be compared to contemporary scientists who often create things without ethics (for example.

3. It is unexpected that a person would have enough foresight to see the evils of such a wondrous creation. It is easy to see. but this leader is able to practice enough restraint to protect his world and to use his imagination to explore the heavens. By referring to the taste of the tea. To begin. It is a powerful ending as it closes with the reader understanding that this emperor had much control to avoid possessing the flying machine himself. An interesting development is that the emperor reacts with horror instead of wonder when he sees the “miracle” for himself. The climax of the story is the execution of the inventor. Undoubtedly. however. 4. It is also interesting that the Emperor is one of the leaders who fostered the development of the Great Wall. the threat was too great.2. The denouement is the emperor returning to the music box. It must have been a decision made after countless threats and events involving death and destruction. There are three that stand out as being exemplary. At this point. Style: Bradbury crafts this story using many literary devices. how the emperor is so sceptical when it comes to this flying machine. he uses Imagery: so that the five senses are activated to bring the reader into this serene and perfect world he has created. the major problem/conflict is resolved. then. the 4 . the air on one’s face. Another interesting development is the juxtaposition between the emperor’s music box and the flying machine. The emperor demonstrates that one should be cautious of an invention that creates such joy as the flying machine. It is probable that the emperor closes his eyes and imagines himself flying in the very machine he had destroyed. the scenery and the smell of the warm air. A second climax could be when the life of the servant is spared because one wonders how far the emperor will go to ensure that the threat of the flying machine is erased from his land. Other world leaders might determine that they had enough control to possess the machine and use it for their amusement and to destroy others. the sounds of the birds. the emperor would have appreciated its value and the beauty around him.

a juxtaposition is created within the simile that highlights the beauty and danger of the machine.audience is right there experiencing the story and thus understands the mood as calm. Often. Which lends to a specific voice in the author’s writing by creating a scene that is stereotypical of Ancient China. There was nothing wrong with my phone but it wasn’t the shiny new phone that other people had with the touch screen and the fancy connections to the internet. He uses simple language in his dialogue and injects respect into the words of the servant and inventor as well as an air of confidence and detachment in the words of the emperor which highlights their character traits and heightens the tone of the story so that you feel as though you are reading a fable or morality-based tale (like a fortune cookie). Bradbury writes. not a harmful machine. Except that dragons are depicted as dangerous beasts that could cause damage to people and their society. Finally. This literary device is used to emphasize the importance of the wall to the Emperor and its significance to the protection of his kingdom. in fact. “a dragon of paper and bamboo coloured like the sun and the grass” () The flying machine is described in a positive and beautiful way that encourages the reader to think that it is. I tried 5 . therefore. Metaphor: he utilizes is the comparison of the flying machine to a dragon in a land of ancient dragons to bring an impression of culture and uniqueness to the invention. his style is more figurative than literal. he is a master of sound effects. so that the audience must pay careful attention and reflect on his ideas. Similes: Bradbury also employs a number of similes to make comparisons. The audience can easily hear the hissing of the snake that represents the huge wall sprawling across the land. By using all these devices so effectively. Describing the wall as a snake suggests that it is dangerous and not to be messed with. Bradbury demonstrates a distinguished and unique voice that sets him apart from other authors. CONNECTIONS Text to Self: I faced a dilemma recently when I made the decision to upgrade my phone. The diction is fairly straight-forward so that the audience can understand the ideas and concepts being presented. The phrase “splendid snake of stones” to describe the Great Wall represents both alliteration and consonance.

For instance. the question of whether we should keep people alive because we can or should we allow people to die when they can no longer sustain themselves is thrown into question. There have been many issues in the news where families have chosen to keep a family member alive when there is no possibility of their survival without the machine’s aid. 6 . At the same time. I didn’t want to be lured in by the new technology and status that this phone would offer me. However. Text to world: The story of the Flying Machine relates to many events that have happened in the world. Since the industrial revolution. we still need to question how far we should be going with machines. I feel a lot like the emperor who is more amused by a machine than one who is more impressed with its possibilities. There is a huge learning curve with owning this new phone. I also recognize that there are some “evils” attached to this phone which will change me as a person as I become better at texting and less available to be face-to-face with a person. the creation of the life support machine is a remarkable device that has saved thousands of people over the years. In the end. however. I traded up with some regret. This connects very well with the story since the impact of technology is questioned by the reader when the emperor kills the flyer. Text-to-text: Science fiction movies including The Terminator series remind us about our delicate relationship with machines. I didn’t want to pass up a great deal and opportunity to explore this new level of technology. Some family members argue that it is better to let the family member die than to keep them alive for the good of their family relationships.to justify getting this new phone over keeping the old one. Even something as innocent-sounding as a “flying machine” can have evil consequences. This new phone makes it impossible for me to be out-of-touch and I hope it’s something that I don’t regret down the line. and the Terminator reminds us that machines could one day turn on and enslave mankind. we have used machines to make work easier and to make life more convenient. and I know that I have not used it to its full potential.

When the Emperor says that it is "well for her" that the Flying One's wife is asleep.What is the major conflict in the story? Explain why you think this is the major conflict..The Servant uses a metaphor to describe the flight of the Inventor and his apparatus. Quote it.. 8.When is it permissible to do a bad thing to prevent or fix a worse thing from happening? Who decides? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Quote at least one source.Compare this to the image given to us when the flying man approaches the Emperor. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. what does he mean? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9.. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………... "Look at the birds.. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4.There are several places where the author foreshadows that the Emperor is worried about the Flying One's feat. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6. 7. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5.Explain the meaning of the question..The Flying Machine by Ray Bradbury Open Response Activity 1. 3. 2.." in the last line of the story? …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….What does the Emperor mean when he says.Does it matter how you accomplish a worthwhile goal? Explain. 7 .. "Does the End Justify the Means?" …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

and tiny people ran in and out of sun and shadow. What is the metaphor being used here? Why use this particular comparison? What could be the meaning behind it? “The Emperor Yuan did not move. readying itself toward the harvest. What is the significance of this line? As the first sentence? What impression do you feel it is making on you as the reader? “In the year A. the people in his dominion neither too happy nor sad”. Instead he looked at the Great Wall of China now taking shape out of the farthest mist in the green hills. listening to tiny emerald birds. and the land was green with rain.D 400. at peace. 2. That wonderful wall which had protected them for a timeless time from enemy hordes and preserved them for years without number”. wolves walked through miniature forests. What is the purpose of this paragraph? Why is it included? What is wrong with this picture? “The machine was a garden of metal and jewels. the Emperor Yuan held his throne by the Great Wall of China. and standing by impossibly small but tinkling fountains”. fanning themselves with miniature fans. Set in motion. that splendid snake of stones which writhed with majesty across the entire land. the birds sang in tiny metal trees.“The Flying Machine” by Ray Bradbury 1. 8 . 3.

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