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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury
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What do the silhouettes on the wall suggest about the family?

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains ," Bradbury describes five silhouettes of a family on the wall. We can infer information about the family, based on the type and nature of these silhouettes. Firstly, there are four members in the family: the father, mother, a young boy, and a...

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains," Bradbury describes five silhouettes of a family on the wall. We can infer information about the family, based on the type and nature of these silhouettes. Firstly, there are four members in the family: the father, mother, a young boy, and a girl.

Secondly, it is worth looking at the specific actions of each family member to glean further information. The father, for example, is mowing the lawn. The mother is bent over, picking flowers, while the two children are playing catch with a ball.

What we see, then, is a traditional, nuclear American family at leisure. The father fulfills the dominant, male role by mowing the lawn. The mother is fulfilling the traditional female role by tending to the garden to beautify the home, and the children play an innocent game in the garden. Looking deeper, the burnt silhouettes show a family tragically cut down in the prime of their lives, without any warning.

By describing this traditional family, Bradbury argues that the danger of being over-reliant on technology can affect anybody. It does not matter what kind of family you are or how you live, technology poses a real danger if it is not properly used and respected.

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains," the silhouette on the wall is the most haunting image Ray Bradbury presents because it shows the instant a nuclear blast killed the unsuspecting family. Each member of the family was in the middle of some activity: the father was mowing the lawn ("the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn," the mother was gardening ("Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers."), and a boy and girl were playing catch with a ball ("a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down."). 

This image helps Bradbury develop his theme that nuclear annhilation will destroy everyone. And that this annhilation can happen at any time.

This image also helps explain the absence of people in the house. It explains why the food the house makes goes uneaten and the cards go unplayed. In addition, the absence of people makes the house meaningless. 

In general, this idea of a silhouette after a nuclear blast comes from reports of nuclear shadows on walls after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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