illustration of a nature scene with a bird in the grass next to a puddle that shows a translucent reflection of a human

There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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What does the house say before the fire in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Before the fire starts, the house reads Sara Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains." This, and all of the house's utterances before that point, are examples of dramatic irony, which occurs when readers have information that characters do not. The house speaks to its residents as if they are alive, while readers know they have died. The house's mundane reminders to the residents are no longer relevant.

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Right before the fire, the house, hearing nothing from the deceased former inhabitants, randomly chooses and reads Sara Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains." The poem's themethe indifference of nature to human existenceis identical to the story's theme and foreshadows the fire to come that will destroy the house.

The lines in the poem shown below state the story's theme or main idea:

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly

As the fire starts, the house cries out "Fire!"

Before reading the poem, the house is in recorded "conversation" with the home's residents, prompting them about what they need to do. This is dramatic irony. Dramatic irony occurs when readers have information that a character or characters in a literary work do not. In this case, the house, which is the main "character" in the story, does not realize, as we do, that the home's residents are deceased, never to return.

The house's "conversation" has an eerie quality, as it highlights a normalcy that no longer exists. The house, for example, wakes the family up and relays messages that are now irrelevant, since the entire society has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust: it states who is celebrating a birthday or an anniversary and tells the residents what bills are due. Similar utterances continue all day, spoken into a vacuum.

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