By the end of the story, what happens to the house in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When an accident of nature sets off a fire in the house and there is not enough water and fire-fighting chemicals to put out the raging fire, the house is destroyed.

Although a nuclear blast kills the occupants of the house, the high-tech dwelling continues its automatic functions. Thus, the absurdity of a mindless technology is exemplified in Bradbury's futuristic fantasy as, although

...the gods had gone away,...the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.

The front door opens for a radiated dog who enters and dies. Voices sing the time, the nursery turns itself on to create various virtual realities for no one, the bath fills, the dinner is prepared, and a cozy fire is set on the hearth. Even when no human voice responds to the automated address from the study ceiling that asks Mrs. McClellan which poem she wishes to hear this night, the programmed automaton chooses, in unconscious irony, Sara Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains."

For rain is precisely what the house soon needs as a strong wind rips loose a tree branch that crashes through a window. The shattered glass falls and the subsequent gusts of wind knock over a bottle of cleaning solvent, which shatters over the stove. "The room was ablaze in an instant!" and the "house tried to save itself" by turning on all the sprinklers and shutting all the doors. But the fierce wind blows and its oxygen feeds the fire. Then, automated "water rats" squirt water all about, racing back into the walls in order to refuel and then squirt some more. However, the "mechanical rain" and various fire-fighting chemicals are no match for their indomitable adversary, Nature, as the fire eventually consumes the entire house. Finally, the destruction of both humanity and technology is complete.  

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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