Bradbury Daily: “The Great Fire”

This is another story that has a single usage of the first person right at the start before continuing on in the third person. I really don’t see the point in doing this in these stories. I understand that there can be artistic reasons for doing it. I did myself once for a class. But in this story and in “The Fire Balloons” — interesting that both have to do with fire — there really wasn’t a point in inserting the first person at the beginning. It never felt as though the stories were being told by a first person narrator but about other people — as it would if they started with something like “I only knew this man briefly, but in that time he touched a great many lives…” carrying on to tell the story of said man.

Note: This was a mere example I made up on the spot, and any resemblance to any story already existing is purely coincidental.

Anyway, the story itself isn’t very good. It doesn’t really feel like there’s all that much to it, to be honest. It’s just a story about the way a young girl acts when she’s in love. The “twist” at the end wasn’t very surprising, and since there wasn’t really much of a plot to begin with, there didn’t seem to be much point in putting it in there anyway, save maybe to give the semblance of there being a plot. It’s really less of a story than it is a few pages of metaphors about young love with a few plot-like things thrown in so it can pass as a story.

The only thing that I can think of to explain this “story” is that maybe Bradbury was writing out his own fears or concerns. I don’t know when he wrote this story, and he says himself that most of his stories weren’t written until a long time after their initial inspirations had come and gone. But I do know that he had four daughters, so it seems possible to me that this was written with at least one of them in mind. The lens does focus on the father in the story more than anyone else.

One more thing of interest is that I think this is the first story I’ve come across that doesn’t fit into the realm of science fiction, horror, or fantasy; it’s just a regular, run of the mill piece of fiction without any special genre affiliation. Which is unusual given that up until now all of the stories in the collection have been genre fiction (the best kind, in my opinion, but I’ve never seen any teachers or critics agree with my sentiments).

As might be apparent at this point, given how much I’ve said in others posts about Bradbury’s writing, the only reason I can recommend this story is on the basis of the writing itself. Bradbury was a master of his craft, even if some of the stories didn’t work terribly well as stories. At least the prose is consistently good. If your words flow just right, a lack of proper plot can be forgiven for a few pages.

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