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In "There Will Come Soft Rains," what literary device does Bradbury use most when he...

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stylen1 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 30, 2008 at 3:32 AM via web

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains," what literary device does Bradbury use most when he relates to the house?

 

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 30, 2008 at 5:34 AM (Answer #1)

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The most often used literary technique to describe the house is personification, where you give inanimate objects human-like characteristics.  This is interesting, considering the house is devoid of humans; making the house and its mechanical components human-like seems to both fill the house with life, and emphasize its emptiness at the same time.  I have listed many examples below, and I hope it helps!:

1.  "the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh"

2.  "memory tapes glided under electric eyes"

3.  "Outside, the garage chimed and lifted its door to reveal the waiting car"

4.  "hot water whirled them down a metal throat which digested"

5.  "it had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old-maidenly preoccupation with self—protection which bordered on mechanical paranoia."

6.  "Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at inconvenience."

7.  "At ten o'clock the house began to die"

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smoochez0 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:13 AM (Answer #2)

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Satire (humorous writing intended to point out errors, falsehood, foibles, or failings)

The writer intended to point out the errors in humanity that one day the technology we create were surpass us and ultimately destroy us

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted February 21, 2015 at 11:48 PM (Answer #3)

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I agree with mrs-campbell and would like to expand upon her answer a bit more.  I must say that after scouring the story, I could find no new examples of personification because she mentioned them all (and even included a couple that weren't exactly personification).  However, just because they are mentioned, doesn't mean they are explained.  My answer will explain how each example is an example of the literary element of personification.

First, when the stove "gave a hissing sigh."  This specifically refers to the house as a person.  A stove cannot make the sound of a sigh, only a person can.  And that sign often can mean boredom or resentment, but definitely something negative (and nothing good).

Second, the house mechanics are focused upon when the "tapes glided under electric eyes."  Note that it is a human that has eyes, nothing else does.  Giving mechanization such human qualities gives an ominous quality to the house and its contents, as if they were alive.

[Next, I have to say that, in my opinion, the third example (even though it is a great example of sound and touch imagery) is not an example of personification.  "Chimed" and "lifted" are not human, but mechanical qualities, so I must go on to the fourth to continue discussion.]

Fourth, the water goes down "a metal throat which digested it."  No doubt that it is only a human (or an animal) that has a "throat," therefore even though that is not a "quality" per se, it is actually a body part!  This is definitely personification here!

Further, shutting the doors and the windows tightly showed "old-maidenly preoccupation with self ... mechanical paranoia."  Yes, both "preoccupation with self" and "paranoia" are human qualities that actually prove to be quite advanced of thought.  Further, any concept of "self" is inherently human.

[Again, I have to disagree with the sixth example being personification specifically of the house.  It is personification of the mice, but yes, they are "angry" as only a human could be "angry."  Mice simply react out of instinct.  So in that case it IS personification, just not that of the house.]

Finally, "the house began to die."  Only living things can die and, although not innately human (but also relating to plants and animals) this could be considered personification as well.

Therefore, due to at least five of the above examples being perfect representations of personification, I must agree that personification is the most used literary element pertaining to the house.

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