Summary and Analysis: The October Country The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse


George Garvey is a prime example of the clichéd middle-class creatures that our materialistically oriented society often creates. He is a connoisseur not of the fine arts but of the simple things in life: He enjoys the music of Guy Lombardo and the comedy of Milton Berle. When an avant-garde group of young people, The Cellar Septet, discovers Garvey, they think that he is unique because of his lack of cultural knowledge. Garvey thinks that James Joyce's Ulysses tells of a Greek and a one-eyed monster, and he believes that Tennessee Williams once wrote a kind of "hillbilly waltz." The Cellar Septet and their friends find Garvey's lack of intellectualism refreshing, and they make frequent visits to his home to admire his uniqueness. Later, when Garvey's popularity begins to decline, both as a facade against his boorish nature and as insurance on his future popularity, he resorts to eccentricities such as a Mandarin's golden finger guard and a poker-chip eye that Matisse himself painted.

In this story, Bradbury's critical eye depicts the intellectual stagnation that a materialistic, keep-up-with-the-Joneses society is capable of producing. Also, through weird, dull George Garvey, Bradbury characterizes a segment of society which sorely needs love, for there is no limit to what Garvey will do to gain approval of Alexander Pape and his Cellar Septet.