What is the central conflict in "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

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The central conflict in this story is that of nature versus human technology. As the Sara Teadsdale poem that the story's title alludes to suggests, when technology gets into a conflict with nature, nature wins.

In the story, a nuclear holocaust has seemingly wiped out civilization. A single house is left standing, though the family that lived it has been killed. The house is quite technologically advanced and mechanically goes about its duties of caring for the family even though there is no family left to care for. It makes meals, sets up card tables, cleans, and even recites a Sara Teasdale poem. However, when a tree crashes, starting a fire, it is nature that wins—the house burns up and all its smoke alarms and sprinklers can't save it.

The poem and the story warn us that our technology cannot overpower nature nor save us from our fate. We need to control our technology rather than let it control us. We need to align ourselves with nature or we may very well wipe ourselves out—and nature will go on, completely indifferent to our fate.

Bradbury cautions against over-reliance on technology, implying it will lead to our doom.

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With regard to the central conflict in "There Will Come Soft Rains," Ray Bradbury has written an unusual story. The implied conflict is essentially mankind versus itself, and readers are presented with only the aftermath of this conflict.

Bradbury's cautionary tale observes that in the nuclear age, mankind has the capability of destroying itself en masse, and such destructive technology must not be handled simply and thoughtlessly as an extension of the technologies that make the responsibilities of everyday life easier.

Bradbury also observes the danger of not being discriminating in what we relegate to automation. While few might argue that mundane tasks such as cleaning are a meaningful expenditure of one's time, preparing children for bed and reading to them are, and to equate the two is morally questionable.

The author leaves readers to consider the irony of a scientific community developing an elaborate in-home fire suppression system while neglecting to offer a fail-safe for the all-consuming nuclear fire that destroys humanity.

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There are no human characters in the story, and so in a literal sense there cannot be a "Man versus" conflict. However, humanity is seen in their achievements, shown here by an automated house that exists for the sole purpose of making life easier for humans. However, the humans are gone, so the house must simply work, moving along as it has been taught without any higher purpose. At the end of the story, the house tries in vain to fight a kitchen fire:

...there were twenty snakes whipping over the floor, killing the fire with a clear cold venom of green froth.

But the fire was clever. It had sent flame outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there. An explosion! The attic brain which directed the pumps was shattered into bronze shrapnel on the beams.
(Bradbury, "There Will Come Soft Rains," nexuslearning.net)

This last-ditch effort to fight fire shows the human aversion to being burned and the lengths to which humanity will go to protect themselves from accidental fires. In a more symbolic sense, then, this shows Man versus Nature, as Man's creation (the house) fights against a natural accident (the branch which blows through a window and spills oven cleaner on the stove). Since there is no human brain to make decisions based on instinct instead of pre-programmed responses, the fire (nature) wins in the end, leaving Man (the house) destroyed and forgotten.

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