A Madman in the City

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Story File
9.1

Values

Simplicity and austerity

Main Lesson

We often get so carried away by the materialism of modern life, that we lose sight of the most important things: the things which bring happiness.

Setting

A big city

Characters

A man from a village

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A Madman in the City

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A short story about the stress of modern life

Julian finally left his village when there was no one left living there. He had never left his beloved village before, but intrigued by the fact that everyone had gone to the city, he decided to go and see for himself what wonderful things those cities had. So he packed a knapsack with a few clothes, put on his best smile, and off he went to the city.

On reaching the city, he was given a most unexpected welcome. A couple of policemen stopped Julian and questioned him in great detail. It turned out that Julian had seemed 'suspiciously happy' for someone with hardly any possessions. In the end, the police had to let him go, but they were still suspicious about this apparently simple and good-natured fellow.

The first thing Julian noticed about the city was all the rushing around. Everyone was in such a hurry that he thought that there must be something special happening that day, which no one wanted to miss. Curious as to what it was, Julian started following a man who looked like he was hurrying to see whatever it was that was happening. However, after several hours following him, the man arrived at a small flat and went inside. He had done or seen nothing of interest that whole day.
That night Julian slept in a park. The park was strewn with bits of paper and plastic. As the bins were completely empty, Julian thought how cool it was that the city had seemingly invented plants with petals made of paper and plastic. He only believed this until the following morning, when a man came by and dropped his chocolate wrapper.

Julian carried on walking through the city streets, trying to understand what was going on, when he arrived at a group of big warehouses, which many people were entering. "This must be the best museum in the world," he thought, on entering, and seeing all the useless-looking things they had inside. But then he saw that people were picking these things up, paying for them, and taking them away.

"Why would anyone want a watch which doesn't show the minutes?" he wondered to himself, after seeing a woman very contentedly leaving with the most modern of watches on her wrist. He thought pretty much the same when seeing a pair of shoes with impossibly high heels, and then some electronic device which did a thousand things, and none of them well. Once again, he decided to follow the lady with the watch. He saw her joy turn into disappointment when her friends gave her new watch a look of disapproval. Julian started regretting having left his village, just to come to this place where no one seemed happy.

Then he saw a few kids playing. Now, they certainly did seem happy, playing, running about, chasing each other. Except for one child, who seemed troubled by a little machine they were calling a console. He was hitting it so hard with his fingers, and making all kinds of faces and angry gestures, that when one of the other children came over to invite him to play with them, the boy with the console just rudely walked away. Julian thought that the boy was trying to destroy that little machine because it was making him so unhappy. He decided to help the boy. Julian went over, took the console, threw it on the ground, stamped on it, and looked at the boy with great satisfaction.

At this the boy flew into a rage, as did all the other children there, and nearly all the adults. They pursued Julian so relentlessly that he had to run away. He didn't stop running until he reached the road leading back to his village.

As he was making his way home he couldn't help wondering whether the whole world had gone mad.


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Average: 9.1 (16 votes)

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