Zero Hour Ray Bradbury Questions

The sample essay on Zero Hour Ray Bradbury Questions deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.

For this essay I will examine how authors use setting and characterization to create atmosphere. I will compare two science fiction stories by two authors. The stories that I am going to analyze are Zero Hour written by Ray Bradbury in 1951 and the second story is Examination Day written by Henry Slesar in 1958.

What you notice about these two stories is that they are both written in the 1950s shortly after World War II. It was a period where technology was developing, and when people became very interested in alien life.

Zero Hour is about an invasion by aliens in the streets of America. This happens when a child is playing with her friends outside in the lawn and suddenly an explosion takes place. The parents of Mink take cover in the attic of the home and then there is a cliffhanger when Mink says ‘Peekaboo’ just outside the attic door.

Examination Day is a more futuristic story and where the author looks at the future. It is about a boy who has an intelligence test. Those people who get a score above the normal limit have to be killed. Unfortunately this child is too clever and he dies.

The Examination Day Short Story

The story Zero Hour is set in the future and this can be shown when the writer states:

‘Overhead the rockets flew, and beetle cars whispered by on the streets…’

This shows it is set in the future as in 1951 there were no cars that could fly or whisper.

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He is creating atmosphere by making the reader imagine what the future looks like.

The story Zero Hour is set on a hot summer’s day. It is set in New York, America. The story starts off in the lawn near Mink’s house. At this point in the story the atmosphere is cool and relaxed. This can be clearly seen when the writer writes:

‘…across the green lawns, shouting at each other, holding hands ,flying in circles, climbing trees, laughing.’

This creates a joyful atmosphere where the author uses pleasant and positive words to describe the opening scene. Ray also uses short sentences too make it more interesting and the reader can also visualize to what the children were doing ie. Climbing trees. He uses a lot of verbs to explain to what is going on this makes the story flowing and fascinating, as if he never used a lot it would be simple and boring.

Later on, the setting slowly changes as it goes indoors inside Mrs. Morris’s home. When it goes indoors the atmosphere becomes tense. This can be clearly seen Mink shows Mrs. Morris a yo-yo:

‘Reaching the end- it vanished, “See?” said Mink. “Ope!” Dibbling her finger, she made the yo-yo reappear…’

From this you can see strange events are happening as Mink first the yo-yo vanishes then reappears. This makes us think to what is going on. The writer uses a lot of punctuation to create atmosphere. The punctuation used is question marks, exclamation marks and commas all combine to create atmosphere.

In this story the main character is the young girl called Mink. She is very passionate and is imaginative. She keeps mentioning the word invasion in the story and also has an imaginary friend called drill. This is obvious when the author writes:

‘it’s real funny to hear Drill talk’ and ‘Martians invading Earth…’

From the two quotes above you can see Ray makes us imagine. The first quote tells the reader that Mink has strange humour. The second quote is quite unbelievable and the writer uses shocking tactics and exaggeration to create atmosphere.

This story uses language to create atmosphere. This is emphasized by the use of question marks:

‘Drill says you’re dangerous. Know why?’

The sentence above shows when the writer uses question marks, by inserting the question mark he creates atmosphere. This is because he wants us to know why he is dangerous, the writer could’ve not inserted the question mark and that could have been okay. Due to him inserting it makes us want to read on and see why he is so dangerous.

Another example of question marks and short sentences can be seen when Mink says:

‘Mom?” A hesitation. “Dad?” A waiting, a silence.

The quote above shows emotive words and clever speech to get the attention of the parents. It has question marks to make the atmosphere tense by calling their names out separately. Also uses short sentences to make it more exciting,

Examination Day is set in a house and is also set on the main character’s birthday, Dick who is going to become twelve. In this story the house is similar to Zero Hour full of suspense and is tense. This can be because it is very quite and both parents have one child, making them the main character and focus on them and create atmosphere. This story is tense all throughout just like an exam would be. This can be seen when the Dick’s father mentions about exam:

“It’s just a sort of Government intelligence test they give at the age of twelve. You’ll be taking it next week.”

After the child’s father has mentioned the exam the atmosphere of the story changes. This causes the boy to ask more questions and therefore increases the suspense in the story. This can be seen when he says:

‘”What exam?” he asked.’

By the parents keeping it quiet and the child not knowing until his father asks, this causes the boy to ask questions. By asking these unusual questions atmosphere is created.

The main focus point of the story is the examination room where the child will be tested. The author uses short sentences to increase tension. This can be clearly seen when he has the medication that was given:

“He sat in silence, feeling drowsy, while the man wrote busily on a piece of paper.”

This shows us that by using short sentences the suspense increases and a lot of movement is happening in the story.

A lot of description is used by the author. He describes the building of the Government Educational Building in great detail. This can be clearly seen when he describes the building:

“They crossed the marble floors of the great, pillared lobby, passed beneath an archway……”

This shows that it is a big building and is very futuristic as you would not have buildings like this in the 1950’s, so it’s trying to make the readers imagine what it would be like. He does this to create atmosphere by making us think harder.

There is also lots of description when writing about the woman working there:

“…and a thin-lipped woman with cropped black hair was passing out sheets of paper.”

It is said if you have thin lips you are not talkative and to have cropped hair is said to be sharp. This creates atmosphere by describing the woman to be strict and can create tension.

Similes and metaphors are also used. This can be seen when Henry writes:

“The room was as cold and as a official courtroom,”

This creates atmosphere by making us think of what the room would have looked like, and make us feel whether it was really cold.

Before entering the Government Educational Building the boy is known as Dick. When he goes in the building he is called by a different name:

“Your names Richard Jordan?”

“Yes sir.”

This shows us that the people in the building are very formal and take everything carefully. This can also create tension by calling him by a more formal way. By calling him formally it can be strange as they could be strangers and he does not know who they are. He is probably not use to being called by that name.

The boy also asks a lot of questions in the story. This could be due to his intelligence. This can be seen when:

“How far is the sun away?”

This shows the boy is clever and asking questions leads to answers. As the father does not answer a few questions this creates atmosphere.

After analyzing both stories I found both stories were well written. I found in Zero Hour .The atmosphere changes a lot ie. Being cool at the start and then changing it to becoming panicky, frightening to create atmosphere. In Examination Day it remains tense and is full of suspense and is very much like and exam day. Zero Hour and Examination Day both have a lot of language used ie. Question marks, exclamation marks, similes, metaphors and imagery. However I did not find any similes or metaphors in Zero Hour .Both stories have good endings. For Zero Hour it is left on a cliffhanger and the ending to Examination Day is very dramatic. After reading both stories I prefer Examination Day as it is easier to read and there is more language used.

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Zero Hour Ray Bradbury Questions. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Zero Hour Ray Bradbury Questions
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