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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury
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Discuss the use of alliteration in the first paragraph of "There Will Come Soft Rains."

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The first paragraph of “There Will Come Soft Rains” contains examples of alliteration —the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of consecutive or closely placed words. Alliteration sets the story’s tone of impersonal efficiency. In this futuristic, fully mechanized house, no humans are present to operate...

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The first paragraph of “There Will Come Soft Rains” contains examples of alliteration—the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of consecutive or closely placed words. Alliteration sets the story’s tone of impersonal efficiency. In this futuristic, fully mechanized house, no humans are present to operate appliances. Instead, all gadgets in this postapocalyptic world eerily function on their own. For example, the voice-clock in the living room

sang, Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o 'clock!

The s sound at the beginning of “sang” is close to the s sound of “seven,” which itself is echoed several words later. The repetition of s conveys the sinister smoothness and insistence of the clock’s disembodied voice.

Within that same passage is an instance of alliteration with t. “Tick-tock” is quickly followed by “time,” which also is repeated. The hard t sound emphasizes the unrelenting march of time and the inescapable, futile fate of getting up to face another empty day. The four successive t sounds create a biting chant.

This paragraph ends with the clock continually ticking on,

repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!

The repetition of the r sound at the beginning of the “repeating” pair communicates a sense of pushing. It also imitates the revving of a motor as inanimate objects throughout the house automatically start up for the day. The s sound returns to stress the clock’s persistent and steady speech. The s of “sounds” echoes with the s of “seven” two more times. Within this alliterative passage is an example of consonance—the repetition of the same consonant sound in the middle or end of adjacent or closely placed words. “Sounds” is near “emptiness,” which runs into the first “seven.” This bridge of consonance emphasizes the overall s sound of the alliterative passage as time slinks on in a void.

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