Short Story #90: The Smile by Ray Bradbury

Title:  The Smile

Author:  Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury - S Is For Space book cover
Young Tom wakes up one morning and travels a reasonable distance to get in line early in the morning to see an art exhibit.  While in line, the adults talk around him and to him about their excited to see the piece of art and to get to spit on it.  Through the conversation, it is explained that all things of culture and technology have been created because they bring with it war.  However, one man believes that there are still ways to embrace culture and technology without war if just the right person came along.  When it's Tom's turn to spit upon the piece of art, he has trouble doing it, as it is the Mona Lisa.  Just as he gets up the courage to spit, the police announce that they have been ok'd to utterly destroy the work.  The orderly crowd now rushes forward to tear it to shreds.  Though he gets tramples, Tom manages to grab hold of a small scrap of the painting and escapes home, clinging it to his chest.  When he gets home late at night, his family is anything but happy to see him.  He goes off to bed and waits until late at night when the moon shines through his only window to look at what he go.  It's the smile of Mona Lisa.


There are elements of this story of course that echo Fahrenheit 451.  And the implication that Tom will grow up to be the one to return culture and technology without war seems to hover in the conclusion of the story.  

Short Story #90 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  3/29/2014
Source:  S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury.  Bantam Books, 1970.  The short story can also be found on this website

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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