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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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Analyze and comment on Bradbury's story "There Will Come Soft Rains."

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Bradbury's story focuses on an automated house that has survived a holocaust. The life of the house continues even though no human occupants remain in—or anywhere near—it. The story functions as a cautionary tale: this is what the world will be like if humanity ceases to exist, so let us work to avoid a nuclear war or similar catastrophe that might wipe us out.

In this story, an eery stillness reigns over the empty house, and Bradbury illustrates the senselessness of building a sophisticated technology if we are going to use that same technology to destroy ourselves. Here, the house continues to function as if serving humans by preparing breakfast, sending mechanical mice out to clean, and reading a poem aloud, but the technology is futile without humans. By nightfall, the technology itself is failing, as a branch falls on the house and fire erupts. Without human intervention, technology is ultimately helpless against the forces of nature. Technology only makes sense as a servant of humankind.

As readers, we feel a sense of loss as the house functions without human occupants to give it meaning and direction—or to save it from destruction.

The story echos the Teasdale poem from which it gets its name and may be summed up in two lines from that poem:

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree If mankind perished utterly.
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There is a great analysis of this Ray Bradbury short story here on eNotes at the link below. Bradbury got the title from a poem of the same name by Sara Teasdale, which is also about an end-of-the-world scenario. In this short story, man has succeeded in destroying himself with nuclear weapons and all that is left behind are machines. Even the family dog cannot survive and dies of radiation poisoning. The themes are of man vs automation, death and fear and science vs nature. This story is from the collection Martian Chronicles in which several stories explore the same themes - man's capability to destroy himself with his own creations.

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Discuss the themes of the story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury.

Much like the walls which contain the images of the people and animals burned into the sides of buildings or bridges in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb in 1945--- in Ray Bradbury’s story “There Will Come Soft Rains,” in 2026, it is a post-apocalyptic 2026, and the residual images of a family have been burned into a fence.  This is the only human sightings in the story. The story, written in 1950, found an accepting audience based on the testing of the hydrogen bombs of the period.

The family is gone but the house continues to run like clockwork as though they would be coming down from a night’s sleep.  Technology has created a world where the robots survive; but, the human beings have killed themselves with the “bomb.” Man created the technology, and the house does not care if man is there or not.

The title for the story comes from Sara Teasdale’s poem of the...

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same title. The poem brings out the essence of the story:

There will come soft rains …

And frogs in the pools singing at night,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,

Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, If mankind perished utterly…

In the story, it appears that life goes on without man. Ironically, this is not really the case. The family dog suffering from dehydration and burns comes in the house and dies.  The city is nothing but rubble, and radiation still fills the air.

One of the themes of the story is presented by Bradbury when he questions man’s reliance on technology when the robots are incapable of saving or even helping to save human beings from annihilation. The house works too well. It has neither feelings nor emotions. The little mice scoop up the family dog and burn the body and the house never flinches.

Cleverly, Bradbury predicts some of the inventions that come to pass later in our more modern times. Yet, the robots do not have personalities and emotions. They cannot solve problems for which they have not been programmed. When the fire begins, the robots continue to perform their tasks but cannot save the house.

Bradbury thematically emphasizes that the technological advances were wonderful when the family was there to live and enjoy the conveniences.  The lack of humanity makes the machinery purposeless.  The house does everything with or without the family.  The house is merely a house without the people to make it a home.

When the fire envelops the house, the chaos seems psychotic.

At ten o'clock the house began to die.The wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant! "Fire!" screamed a voice. The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind blew and sucked upon the fire.

Trying to continue each part of the house’s job, the attic brain overloads and sends the house to its end in a frenzy.  Coming from its fiery grave, the voice of the clock announces the next day.  

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Can you please give me a detailed explanation of "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

This story was written in 1950 by a science fiction writer by the name of Ray Bradbury.  World War II had just ended.  The United States had dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, and Nagasaki, Japan three days later.  Hundreds of thousands of people were killed either by the direct hit of the bomb or by the radiation caused by the bomb.  It was foremost in people's minds.  Tensions had arisen between the USSR and the United States, and people were concerned about a nuclear war. 

This story gets its name from the poem by Sara Teasdale.  It reflects that nature will continue on even after mankind has killed itself.  It talks of robins, swallows, frog, wild plum trees, and soft rains that,

"And not one will know of the war, not one/ Will care at last when it is done/ Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree/ If mankind vanished suddenly. (lines 7-10)

Mankind has perished in this story.  This is the only house left and

"At night, the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles." (pg 1)

The silhouettes on the blackened house show what the members of the family were doing at the time the bomb hit.  Their bodies were disintegrated, but the silhouettes are an eerie reminder of their existence.

The house is filled with technology.  The humans are almost robots themselves doing the same thing every day.  The technology does not even know that they are not there.  If it doesn't get an answer, it just goes back to its original function. If the man does not drive his car out of the garage, the garage door closes.  If the woman does not pick out a poem to read, the computer chooses one for her. It is interesting that Bradbury was able to visualize many of the conveniences we have today.  All that is left of the world is technology and nature.  Eventually, nature takes over and destroys the technology with fire. 

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