Short Story #23: The Whole Town's Sleeping by Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Whole Town's Sleeping

Author: Ray Bradbury

Short Story #23 out of 365

Rating: 2  (out of 5 stars)

Date Read:  1/15/2014
Source:   Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur.  I could not find the full text, but here is a radio transcript and here is the radio broadcast of it.

Book cover:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night edited by Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Arthur


Lavinia sits on her porch waiting for her friend to go meet with another friend to go to see a movie that night (Welcome Danger!).  When her friend shows up, the neighbor warns them about going out but they assure her that they are ok and won't encounter "The Lonely One," the nickname for a person who has been killing women.  The town is set up with a ravine near it so they must cross the ravine to actually get to town.  Upon doing into the ravine, they encounter the dead body of a girl that went missing.  They report it to the police and then, in an attempt to forget about it, they meet up with their friend to go see the movie.  They eventually get there but the movie night is cut short because the police have requested an early curfew given the recent murder.  The women leave the theater and eventually, begin walking home.  However, Lavinia lives across the ravine and so her two friends try to convince her to stay with them for the night or to call for help.  She refuses believing she is ok and there is nothing to worry about.  When she is on her own, she does start to become a little more jumpy at sounds.  Someone approaches her and she thinks it's the Lonely One but it turns out to be a local office.  As she descends into the ravine, she begins to hear someone walking and even think she sees someone.  She becomes scared enough she begins to sprint as fast as she can.  She gets to her home and opens the door.  Slamming the door behind her, she looks to see who was following her outside.  There is no one, but then someone clears his throat behind her.   


Though well-told with a good pace to it, this is one of Bradbury's lesser interesting stories.  It's a bit cliche and even misogynistic with some of its efforts (the young women who defy the male-authority of the town are punished, the independent woman being punished for being independent).  Of course, the ravine connected with the town just spelled trouble from the beginning as did the movie they were going to see, since merely going to the movie, the girls "welcomed danger."  Lavinia was likeable as a character at least in modern times where independent women are more appreciated and recognized but I can't help feeling that Bradbury  could have done better by her   
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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