The Highway (Bradbury)

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The Highway
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A farmer observed a sudden rush of cars on the usually busy highway, indicating a major event. The last car revealed that an atomic war had begun, leaving the highway deserted.

One afternoon, a man named Hernando was waiting for the rain to stop so he could return to plowing his field.

Hernando — farmer; observant, calm, and simple; wears shoes made from tire rubber.

He noticed that the usually busy highway nearby was unusually quiet, with no cars passing by for an hour. This was strange as there was usually a constant stream of tourists stopping to take his picture. His wife asked if something was wrong, and he expressed his concern about the empty road.

Hernando's Wife — Hernando's wife; hardworking, concerned.

Suddenly, hundreds of cars started rushing down the highway, all heading north. Hernando noticed something unusual about the faces of the people in the cars, but they were moving too quickly for him to identify what it was. After a while, the road was empty again.

So much traffic in this hour. It all goes one way. North.

Then, an old Ford came down the road, driven by a young man with five young women in the car.

The Young Man — driver of the last car; young, anxious, and desperate; wears a yellow sweater and gray pants.

They asked Hernando for water for their overheating radiator. He noticed that they were all very upset and crying. When he asked what was wrong, the young man told him that the atom war had started, signaling the end of the world.

It’s come, the atom war, the end of the world!

They thanked him for his help and drove off.

Hernando stood still for a long time, then returned to his house and resumed his plowing. When his wife asked what had happened, he simply replied, "It is nothing." He continued to work, pondering what they meant by "the world".