What is a description of the setting in the story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the setting is of such importance that it is truly the main character of the story.

It is August 4, 2026, two days from the anniversary of the apocalyptic dropping of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, the automated house stands alone, the sole survivor in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. Amazingly, all the other houses are but ashes and rubble, but the house still functions. The voice-clock acts as the morning alarm, "time to get up, time to get up, seven o'clock!"
In the kitchen there are the sounds of breakfast being made as the automatic date reminder announces the birthdays and anniversaries and bills to remember. Then, the clock says that it is time to go to work and to school; however, on this day there are no sounds to be heard. No one closes a door, no one runs down the stairs.

Later, the little robotic mice come out and clean the floors, the shriveled eggs that were not eaten are cleared off plates that are then washed. When all the tasks of cleaning are completed, the mice scurry back into their burrows. Outside, the most remarkable sight is visible on the walls of the house: the silhouettes of a man, a woman, and a boy and girl are burned onto the sides of the house. The rest of the house is "a charcoal layer" now when heretofore it has been

...an altar with ten thousand attendants, big small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, unsteadily.

When a dog, once large and healthy, but now reduced to bone and full of sores, comes to the door, it whines and the house opens its door. The pitiful dog froths at the mouth, spins, and drops dead from cancer. Sensing decay, the robotic mice again appear and sweep the dog into the house incinerator.
Still, the house continues its automated routine: the nursery changes to a virtual meadow where children can play, the bath fills for the children; the fire place glows. At 9:55 p.m. an automated voice asks Mrs. McClellan which poem she would like to hear on this evening. When there is no response, the voice reads Sara Teasdale's "There Will Come Soft Rains."

After this reading, the house starts to be destroyed as a tree falls and a branch breaks a window, sending cleaning solvent onto the stove. A great conflagration begins, and the house cannot put it out. The fire spreads throughout the house and the voices die as the machinery all comes on at once as circuits burn. In electronic chaos, music is played, the lawn mower runs, an umbrella is set up outside, the cleaning mice run "insanely" in manic confusion as the stove reignited by fire falling upon it repeatedly prepares dozens of bacon strips and loaves of toast. Finally, there is a crash; then, there is smoke and silence. The house is virtually destroyed, but it endeavors to announce the date, "Today is August 5, 2026....

 

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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