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This story gets its title from Sara Teasdale's poem of the same name. In the story, the mechanical (nearly sentient) house asks Mrs. McClellan, presumably the woman of the house, what poem she wants to hear in the evening. Having been annihilated by the atomic blast, she is not there to answer and the house chooses Teasdale's poem which ironically was Mrs. McClellan's favorite.
In Teasdale's poem, the world (of nature) goes on. It doesn't matter, to the frogs, trees, and the seasons themselves that humans have destroyed each other. In Bradbury's story, the scene is similar although the family dog and the house itself do miss that human presence. (The dog can't feed itself and the house is useless since it can not function for the human family.)
The house is programmed to function like a servant but it also has a sentient and/or personified quality that really gives the reader the sense that the house is a living thing. Consider these lines:
The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind blew and sucked upon the fire.
In the absence of humans, Bradbury personifies many things: the fire feeds on Picassos and Matisses "like delicacies" the house "tried to save itself" and the fire "was clever."
The personification of the house is striking, almost as if it becomes the echoes of the human family that once lived there. The house takes their place as a living entity:
The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.
Note how the house actually yells for help. However, as sentient as the house seems to be, it is not human. Note how insanely and inhumanly it acts in its waning moments, reading the poem:
And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked.
Finally, the last line is like a machine stuck, repeating its own end, like a gravestone marking the last day of its existence:
"Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is . . . "
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