The five spots remaining on the side of the house in the story “There Will Come Soft Rains” are silhouettes of what?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story takes place in the future: August 4, 2026. This is a technologically advanced, automated house that still stands in Allendale, California. It still stands following a nuclear blast. At 10:00, the narrator explains that the house is alone amidst a city in rubble. It is the only remaining house: 

At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles. 

This "radioactive glow" is the result of a nuclear explosion. This could have been a nuclear test gone wrong or the result of warfare. At 10:15, the sprinklers come on. The west side of the house is "charred." The entire west wall of the house is black (charred from the blast) except for five white spots (silhouettes). There is one of a man mowing, one of a woman tending to flowers, one of boy with his hands in the air, one of a girl with her hands ready to catch, and one of the ball the boy had thrown to the girl. All of these family members, and the ball, had been disintegrated during the blast. Being so close to the house, their bodies shielded the house from the blast, leaving the white paint still on the west wall. This is why their white silhouettes remain on that wall. It is a tragically poetic image of the aftermath of the bomb. 

This is a cautionary tale showing the pros and cons of technology. Technology created this self-automated home but also created the bomb. 

Read the study guide:
There Will Come Soft Rains

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