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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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What are some examples of imagery in the story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is replete with examples of imagery. The imagery starts in the first paragraph with a vacant house in the morning. The imagery continues in the second paragraph with a clear picture of breakfast. Later on, Bradbury uses imagery to illuminate the tragic narrative arc of the dog.

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When it comes to Ray Bradbury’s eerie short story “There Will Come Soft Rains,” there’s an abundance of imagery to discuss.

In the first paragraph, imagery can be found in the sentence “The morning house lay empty.” Not all imagery requires flowery language. Sometimes, imagery can be...

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relayed through taught, simple language. With this concise sentence, Bradbury paints a clear picture of an empty house in the morning.

The second paragraph builds upon the morning imagery. It provides a palpable catalogue of what’s for breakfast. Not only does Bradbury list what’s on the menu, but he quantifies the items and provides images of what they look like. The toast (of which there’s eight pieces) is “perfectly browned”.

Even the fourth paragraph, which is only a sentence, contains imagery. The imagery is technological and futuristic. There’s “memory tapes” gliding under “electric eyes.”

Moving on, one of the most striking images relates to the dog. The dog appears to be the only animate, living creature in the story. Bradbury supplies the dog with robust imagery. Bradbury shows the reader what the dog was like before the catastrophe. He lets the reader know that dog was “once huge and fleshy.” He then discloses to the reader what the dog looks like now. The dog has “gone to bone" and is "covered with sores."

Finally, Bradbury relays, in graphic detail, the way in which the dog dies. It's running in circles, it's biting its own tail, and it's spinning in a frenzy. At last, it passes away.

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Imagery is description that uses the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. The imagery in Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Short Rains" first reveals the pointlessness and poignance of a technology that keeps working once all the humans it serves have been destroyed. For example, there is pathos in the sound imagery of the house addressing nobody:

 The weather box on the front door sang quietly: "Rain, rain, go away; rubbers, raincoats for today…" 

Bradbury's poetic imagery personifies the house, making it seem like a human being. Here Bradbury uses sound imagery to personify the house's technology:

It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up. The bird, startled, flew off! No, not even a bird must touch the house!

Below, Bradbury uses visual imagery to show a harsh and relentless technology trying to control nature:

For not a leaf fragment blew under the door but what the wall panels flipped open and the copper scrap rats flashed swiftly out. The offending dust, hair, or paper, seized in miniature steel jaws, was raced back to the burrows.

Ironically, technology, which is designed in this case to serve every need of the home's owners, is also what has destroyed the owners through a nuclear war. In the end, nature will win. Bradbury shows this in the following imagery of the house catching fire:

The wind blew. A failing tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!

Bradbury continues to personify the house, and the following image, though primarily visual, also includes a sense of heat and motion:

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.

Imagery at the end shows the destruction of the house:

Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke.

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Ray Bradbury's story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes many haunting images about the absence of human life after a nuclear strike kills all people in this community, at least.

Most of the imagery in the story is visual and creates a sense of emptiness in this world. In the story's second paragraph, Bradbury creates the image of a breakfast waiting to be eaten: "...eight pieces of perfectly browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk." A few paragraphs later, a car sits "waiting" and playing cards sit "silent" and "untouched."

The most haunting image of this story is Bradbury's description of the family that used to live in this house. All the family members, except for the family dog, died in the nuclear blast. Bradbury describes the image left on the "charred west side" of the house:

"The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man moving a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a blall which never came down."

Besides the haunting visual imagery, Bradbury creates several instances of audible imagery. The "voice-clock" singing the time and and a second computerized voice saying the date: "Tick-tock, seven o'clock..." and "Today is August 4, 2057." The sound of the house "clicked" and "hummed."

Meanwhile, the imagery related to the fire is animal-like and it was "licking" and eating" and "fed upon Picassos and Matisses."

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What is an example of imagery in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Imagery in "There Will Come Soft Rains" is often used to humanize the abandoned house. Though the humans who once lived there were killed in a nuclear explosion, the house continues to operate as though nothing has changed. The juxtaposition between the house's cheerful sense of normalcy with the eerie lack of people creates an uncanny tone.

One example of such imagery occurs when Bradbury reveals that the breakfast made for the family lays on the table uneaten:

At eighty-thirty the eggs were shrivelled and the toast was like stone. An aluminium wedge scraped them into the sink, where hot water whirled them down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea.

The food going bad subverts the earlier inviting imagery that was created when it was cooked. With no human beings around to consume the food, the house itself pushes the eggs and toast down a "metal throat." Even the heat of the water seems almost human since heat is often associated with emotion.

Heat reoccurs throughout the story, often in fire imagery. The fire in the hearth is emphasized when the house lights a cigar for the deceased father:

In the metal stand opposite the hearth where a fire now blazed up warmly, a cigar popped out, half an inch of soft gray ash on it, smoking, waiting.

Additionally, the circuits in the beds warm up once night falls. Evoking the explosion which killed the house's inhabitants as easily as it does cheerful domesticity, this imagery portends doom. However, once the dog dies, the fire imagery within the house becomes sinister:

The dog was gone.

In the cellar, the incinerator glowed suddenly and a whirl of sparks leaped up the chimney.

The imagery without context might seem inviting and cheerful, but knowing that the sparks are the result of the consumption of the dog's corpse makes it ironic.

The final destruction of the house by fire is also packed with similar imagery. The fire eats away at the "oily flesh" of the paintings on the walls, "tenderly crisping" the canvases as well. By using words that evoke eating and food, the fire becomes monstrous, creating an urgent and frightening atmosphere. Even the final collapse of the house is characterized through humanizing imagery:

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.

The structure and wiring within the house become its bones and nerve endings. Bradbury has so thoroughly made it seem like a character with goals and feelings that the description takes on a grotesque quality. Overall, the imagery in the story generates pathos and horror, blending the sights, smells, and feelings within an inviting futuristic home with dread, destruction, and decay.

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In the story "There Will Come Soft Rains," what are some examples of imagery? How do they contribute to the story's theme?

In "There Will Come Soft Rains," Bradbury uses lots of images to reinforce the story's themes. Probably the most striking of these is the McClellan's "charred" house, the only house which has survived the nuclear blast. This "black" and "burned" house reflects the destructive nature of humankind, one of the story's key themes.

Similarly, Bradbury reinforces this theme of human destruction by creating an image of disease and decay when he discusses the family's dog. To do this, Bradbury uses words like "sores," "decay" and "whining," which are combined with a contrast of the dog's condition:

The dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone.

The dog thus becomes a potent symbol of human destruction and the potential dangers of technology. 

Finally, when Bradbury describes the folding of the tables, he invokes an image of a butterfly. This serves to highlight the idea that nature will go on, whether humans are alive or not. This is further reinforced by the inclusion of Sara Teasdale's poem "There Will Come Soft Rains." 

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