The Watchers by Ray Bradbury
In The Watchers by Ray Bradbury we have the theme of connection, fear, selfishness, control and self-interest. Taken from his The Silver Locusts collection (1951) the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Bradbury may be exploring the theme of connection. Those who live on Mars are concerned about their families on Earth. They look on in disbelief to what is happening on Earth and nobody feels comfortable with what is happening. Grown adults who live on Mars have worries when it comes to their parents living on Earth. These worries grow when Earth becomes a ball of fire and those on Mars fear the worst. So concerned are people that they make immediate plans to return to Earth to see if they can do anything. Something that may be difficult considering that an atomic war is ravaging Earth. It does not look like many will have survived the catastrophe.
The theme of selfishness is self-evident in the story. Those who lead (politicians) on Earth have started an atomic war without taking into consideration all the facts. An arsenal of atomic weapons has exploded in Australia and politicians around the world believe they are under attack. When the truth is very much different. Though a tragedy, what happened in Australia could have been contained to just Australia and there was no need for other cities around the world to be bombed. However that is not how leaders on Earth have seen things. Which may be the point that Bradbury is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that though atomic bombs are dangerous and assure mutual destruction. Politicians themselves also have a lot to answer for when they considered launching bombs to attack cities that did not attack them.
If anything Bradbury is highlighting how stupid society actually is to believe in the leaders on Earth. Leaders have their own agenda and do not take into consideration the views of others. It is easier to control people who live under fear of threat. As was the case with the Cold War between the East and West. Than it is to have a free society. Though the West itself may have suggested they had complete freedom. This is not necessarily the case. Just as the Soviets controlled their population with propaganda against the West. The West too had its own propaganda machine. Something that is highlighted by the race between the East and West to put the first man on the moon. This became a goal for both sides during the 1960s. With America (West) eventually putting the first man on the moon.
The end of the story is also interesting as it becomes clear to the reader that not everyone on Mars has the same connection to Earth. The luggage-store proprietor for example is more concerned that he sells luggage to everyone who is heading back to Earth. At no stage does he consider how traumatic or dangerous events on Earth are. His sole interest is on self. How he can make money and profit from the tragedy that is happening on Earth. This may be significant as Bradbury may be mirroring how selfish those on Earth have been to engage in an atomic war without considering the consequences. It is also noticeable that those in control on Earth have not considered the views of others. Like the luggage-store proprietor they have their own interests at heart.