There Will Come Soft Rains Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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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...

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The central conflict in Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" is Man vs. Technology. Throughout the story the reader sees the technologically equipped home going through the motions of serving a family that is no longer there. Bradbury writes, "The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here... a women bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy..., higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down." Although humanity has attempted to improve lives through this serving technology, technology has won, and man has been destroyed by war.

One critic, Catherine Sustana, points out a major difference in Sara Teasdale's poem and Bradbury's story: "In Teasdale's poem, no element of nature would notice or care whether humans were gone. But almost everything in Bradbury's story is human-made and seems irrelevant in the absence of people." This difference between poem and story highlights the conflict between humans and the technology they create. Without people, technology is useless. If humans allow technology to be a weapon that destroys them instead of a tool that will help them, then technology's ability to be a tool becomes a waste.

nammz | Student

Nature vs. Technololgy

or Man vs. Technology