In the story "There Will Come Soft Rains," how does the author show that different electronic devices are speaking?

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains," Bradbury uses personification to show that the different electronic voices are talking. Personification is a literary device in which these inanimate objects are given a human attribute. In this case, Bradbury gives them the ability to express themselves through a human voice.

Bradbury employs personification from the very beginning of the story. The voice-clock "sang," for example while the breakfast stove gives a "hissing sigh." Similarly, on the outside of the house, the weather box sings quietly.

By portraying the house and its electronic devices in this way, Bradbury emphasizes the absence of humankind in the story. (Remember that everyone has died as a result of a nuclear blast). It also allows him to highlight our over-reliance on technology, which leads him to make an important (and ironic) conclusion. Specifically, technology cannot save us and its "life" will instead go on, even after we have perished.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this futuristic fantasy, some of Bradbury's technological devices are personified. This personification of such things as the clocks, stove, garden sprinklers, tables, etc. gives to them a life, but it is an artificial life that generates no vitality, warmth, or emotion. 

Here are some of the devices that "speak":

  • The "voice-clock" sings out in order to wake up the family who lives in the house, but no one is there.
  • The breakfast-stove emits "a hissing-sigh"
  • A "second-voice" announces the date.
  • Memory tapes click and talk about going to school, off to work and urging to "run,run, run." 
  • The weather box on the front door softly "sings."
  • 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. 

Finally, the house, bereft of people, begins to die.