There Will Come Soft Rains Symbolism

Is there symbolism in "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

Symbolism in "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes the voice-clock and the family dog. The voice-clock symbolizes the changes which have occurred in the daily lives of humans. The dog, who later enters the house, symbolizes the cold and uncaring way technology views loyalty. Nature also plays a key role in the story's symbolism, demonstrating its superiority to man's creations that ultimately lead to destruction.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The final showdown, so to speak, between the mechanized house and the casual act of nature symbolizes the fact that nature is, without even trying to be, far more powerful than anything human beings can create. The house has gone about its business for some time now, doing the chores and making the food it has always done. However, one day, "the wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window." This tree bough smashes a container of cleaning solvent over the stove, and this solvent bursts into flames, initiating the fire that spreads quickly throughout the entire house. The house does try to save itself, closing off rooms and sending out the mechanical mice to spray water at the flames and sending streams of water down the walls to prevent the fire from spreading. But the wind "blew and sucked upon the fire" so that the heat breaks the windows and allows the fire to grow.

Despite all of the thoughtful devices human beings have created to deal with fire, to prevent such catastrophes from occurring, it only takes one solitary tree branch and a stiff wind to destroy it all. Nature, with very little movement at all, is able to reduce the house and all its fancy technology to ash, figuratively showing how much more powerful nature is than anything man can create.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This short story opens with a "voice-clock" repeating reminders of date and time into the stillness and emptiness of a house devoid of people. This clock symbolizes the changes that have happened due to humanity's constant need for technological "progress." The clock is a reminder that humans have acquired the changes which they sought to make their lives easier, and their worlds have become so automated that they don't even need to remember anniversaries or the dates bills are due. The technology of the house maintains reminders of all this information for them. Yet as the voice-clock issues its reminders to an empty house, the ultimate message is clear—these improvements in their daily lives are now meaningless.

The family dog later returns to the house, and when the house recognizes his voice, the door opens and allows him to enter. The dog seeks the family who once lived here as he runs around upstairs, yelping at each door. Defeated upon finding no one inside, the dog returns downstairs and dies. The dog symbolizes both loyalty and a brokenness that exists between the capabilities of technology in the absence of people. The house has the ability to help the dog, yet instead of providing the nourishment which the dog desperately needs, the house prepares food and then disposes of it. Humans mediated the connections between the technology that could alleviate the burdens of life, and in their absence, their loyal pet cannot navigate the world which they have created. His loyalty is not valued by the technology of the house, demonstrating the ultimately cold and impersonal world humans have created.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The symbolism present in Bradbury's story points to mankind's proclivities for waste, pollution, and destruction, contrasted with the purity and regenerating forces of the natural world.

Even after the family has been obliterated in the nuclear blast, the house continues to consume and waste: it prepares meals that no one eats, cleans the dishes, and flushes the uneaten food "away to the distant sea." The house wastes water on the lawn, as the "sprinklers whirled up in golden founts."  Beyond the house, "the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles." 

Nature, however, goes about its everyday business: the sun continues to rise and set, the sun shines, and the soft rains come.  Fire, one of Nature's most elemental forces, ultimately consumes the house that is symbolic of man's ostensible superiority, but at the story's end, "dawn showed faintly in the east."

Bradbury symbolically suggests that Nature has the capacity to outlive humanity's ruinous ways.





Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "There Will Come Soft Rains" Ray Bradbury portrays symbolism through the house, the mice, and the poem. All of these objects reflect mankinds use of technology. We are steering away from human interaction and our routines are becoming monotonous, mundane, technology-driven activities.

The house symbolizes mankind. We are constantly busy. Everyday we check off things on our "to do" lists and make more, longer lists. Our routines are almost robot like. The robots in the story seem to be racing around like our minds at times.

"The house was 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, uselessly." This section is symbolizing religion and seems to say people use religion in a senseless and useless way. Shortly after this quote the dog died. It implied that if you lose religion bad things will happen.

The poem at the end about soft rains explains that life will go on even if we die. Nature and materialistic things (our cell phone and computer) won't care if we are gone. Things will still keep functioning. We need to build human relationships with other people, because they are the ones care about us. We are truly becoming a technology driven world and this story symbolizes this through the house, the mice, and the poem.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial