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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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What are some examples of allusion in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

"There Will Come Soft Rains" contains allusions to another story by Bradbury, a sixteenth-century English folk rhyme, and to the rivalry between two modern artists.

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The title of Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story is an allusion to a poem with the same title written by Sara Teasdale in 1918. The theme of the two works is similar: mankind's tendency toward self-destruction is an ever-present threat. It is quite likely that the sweeping devastation of World War I inspired Teasdale and the atomic bombing that ended World War II inspired Bradbury, and both works lament the effects of technology when it is turned to dark purposes.

In the story's fifth paragraph, the house's programmed "weather box" sings the children's nursery rhyme that begins, "Rain rain go away," a variation on an English rhyme dating to the reign of Elizabeth I and the stormy weather that aided in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

The scenes projected inside the children's nursery that feature panthers, giraffes, lions and antelopes allude to another of Bradbury's 1950 works, the short story "The Veldt." Both nurseries represent the fanciful side of technology that could delight and entertain as a contrast to technology that can lay waste to mankind.

The reference to the works of Picasso and Matisse that begin to burn as the house catches fire could be allusions in at least two ways. While both artists were Modernists, their careers and personalities reflected a rivalry. Picasso was splashy and unapologetic while Matisse was more modest and retiring. In a sense, they are two sides of a coin, much like technology, which can be a great benefit or a horrific detriment. Another possible allusion to the artists is a reminder that the power of the natural world, manifested as fire, is far greater than any "masterpiece" that mere man can muster.

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