In "There Will Come Soft Rains," what is an overarching question?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that you can find many overarching questions in the story.  One critical question would be the role of technology.  Bradbury constructs a setting where one is filled with wonder and a simultaneous trepidation about a technological future.  The self- maintenance of the house is wonderful on one hand, as it represents the pinnacle of technological advancement.  However, on the other hand, there is a lifeless element to it and this is not simply because human beings have been wiped out.  Rather, the work brings to light what is the cost of technological advancement if human beings are not a part of this design.  The house seems empty in both literal and symbolic senses because it carries on even though its inhabitants are dead.  When the house burns, there is no one to mourn it, as the technological voice goes on to the next day.  Along these lines, another major question that arises from the short story is what happens when there is a condition where human life loses all value.  The premise of a nuclear future is one where both sides are afraid of the other, guaranteeing all human life.  In the post- nuclear apocalyptic setting of the story, this is no longer present.  Human beings were not afraid of the other, which is why nuclear war happened.  In this light, one of the major questions the story brings out is whether or not it is considered progress when individuals lack the fear of death or of consequences.  In this philosophical paradigm, the story poses more questions than answers.

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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