What is the climax of "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury? 

What is the climax of "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?


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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of the story occurs when the house catches on fire and the ubiquitous flames affect the death of the technology in the vacant house.

Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" depicts a future that reflects the possible outcome of modern day technology which has gone out of control. First, there has been a nuclear explosion: 

Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing 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...and opposite him, a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.

A bedraggled dog whines at the door to the charred house. After the door automatically opens, it runs through the house in search of the family. Finally, as a result of the nuclear fallout, it froths at the mouth, runs in circles, and dies. Then, the automated house detects decay and "regimented mice" appear to discard the poor animal. Soon, the house goes about the regular routine, but there is no one alive to eat the meals or listen to the voices. In the evening, Sara Teasdale's poem is read, and, ironically, its message has proven to be prophetic:

....If mankind perished utterly;

...Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

The poem foreshadows what next occurs. The powers of Nature conquer the technology of the house when a tree bough crashes through the kitchen window and the house catches on fire. The house "tried to save itself," but the water pump "shrugged to a stop" and the sprinklers no longer work to put out the raging fire. Finally, the fire runs outside the house through the attic. "An explosion!" Then, the fire runs one direction, and still another until the entire house is consumed. After all is destroyed, there is yet within the house "a last voice" that calls out the date, but no one exists to listen.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury whose title is taken from a poem of the same name by Sara Teasdale. The story tells of the nuclear destruction of Allendale, California and a single house which stands shortly after the debacle. The house is automated: It calls out the time of the day, prepares food for the inhabitants (now dead), and has robotic devices which clean the home. The climax of the story comes when the house, which has survived the nuclear blast, is accidentally set ablaze when a falling tree limb breaks through a window, knocking over a flammable solvent. The house tries to save itself, automatically shutting windows and setting off water sprinklers, but nature's fury proves too powerful for the human technology inside.

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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