What is an example of a simile in the short story, "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

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teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

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In this story, a house goes on functioning for awile and then "dies" in a fire after all the human inhabitants are killed in a nuclear war. Similes likening the house to nature, magic and children contrast ironically with the horrors wrought by technology. As if they are natural, the robot mice who clean the empty house, "like mysterious invaders" pop back into their "burrows" when they are done, as if they don't want to intrude on human space. There's an irony in the invaders simile, because there's nothing left to invade now that everyone has been killed. These same mice are again described in natural terms as they go about their scheduled tasks with no reason left to do so, as soft and quiet "as blown gray leaves." The card tables fold "like great butterflies" at the appointed time, though nobody has played cards. The dinner dishes are "manipulated like magic tricks" by the mechanized house.  

As the house burns at the end, mirrors snap "like the brittle winter ice." As the fire intensifies, the mechanical voices of the house are likened to "a tragic nursery rhyme" and "children dying in a forest," although there is no longer anything human left. We end on a note of sadness. With just one wall left, the house repeats the date mindlessly, no one there to care. 

lusie0520's profile pic

lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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There are many examples of figurative language in “There Will Come Soft Rains.”  The story is post-apocalyptic, and there is no one in the house.  In order to show the reader the devastation that has occurred in the house, the writer uses figurative language such as similes to indicate no one is alive.  For example, he says: “At eight-thirty the eggs were shriveled and the toast was like stone.”  The toast is compared to stone, letting us know that no one has touched it and it has hardened.

Some of the similes used are happy images in direct contrast with the idea the reader has that something is very wrong.  For example:  “and the murmur of a fresh jungle rain, like other hoofs, falling upon the summer-starched grass.”  The rain here is being compared to the sound of an animal’s hoofs, and it occurs in the nursery, where there are many happy images, but no sign of life.

Another simile occurs when the author is describing the furnace: “of an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in a dark corner.”  This is a particularly strong example because it alludes to Baal, who is an evil king in hell.  This contributes to the suspense of the story by giving the reader an uneasy feeling.

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