The Luggage Store by Ray Bradbury
In The Luggage Store by Ray Bradbury we have the theme of connection, conflict, acceptance, selfishness and self-interest. Taken from his The Silver Locusts collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story it becomes clear to the reader that Bradbury may be exploring the theme of connection. Though isolated on Mars both the luggage-store proprietor and the priest feel connected to the conflict that is occurring on Earth. Even if the connection is not registered immediately by the luggage-store proprietor. It is only when the priest explains the connection to the proprietor that the he understands. Though he himself has decided to stay on Mars he can see how others who have not been long on Mars may wish to return to Earth. To help fight in the war. Though Bradbury never explains what war (set in November 2005) one is left to assume that the world is at war. Possibly WWIII.
What is also interesting in the story is the fact that the priest immediately accepts what is happening as too does the luggage-store proprietor when matters are explained to him by the priest. This may be significant as it is possible both men are thinking only of themselves, their own self-interest. Particularly the priest who decides to purchase a valise for himself. Gone is any real concern for Earth. While the proprietor justifies his remaining on Mars by stating he has been too long on Mars to go back home to Earth. Mars has become his new home and he is comfortable in the position he finds himself in even if the world is at war. The proprietor appears to remain safely in the background like the priest. Gone are any real feelings for what might remain on Earth.
There might also be some symbolism in the story which may be important. The luggage-store itself may suggest the transient nature of living on Mars. Something which is alternative to the proprietor and priest’s outlook. It is also noticeable that the priest is idle, that he is spending his evening chatting away to the proprietor. This too may be significant as it suggests that the priest is either retired, though there is no mention of it, or that he has no flock that he attends to. His self-interest is also striking as one would think of a priest as being a man of the people and not selfish in any way. Though it might be important to highlight the fact that the priest is after all only human. He feels, aches and reacts as any human being might depending on his circumstances.
The end of the story really highlights how selfish both men are. While the priest purchases a valise. The proprietor awaits a large crowds of people to come to his store to buy items of luggage. He imagines that there will be many, who have spent a short time on Mars, who will return to fight in the war on Earth. This sense of self-interest is remarkable as it clearly suggests both men are selfish and thinking only of themselves. They know that they are relatively safe for the moment and there is no need for them to be involved. Possibly justifying their absence from Earth by the fact they are both men of maturity. Though they act immaturely by being so selfish. It seems to be more important to the luggage-store proprietor to profit from the war rather than seeing if he can help in some manner that could be productive and not by attempting to line his pockets with money.