What happened to the city and the people in the story? Which details reveal this?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury takes its title from a poem by Sara Teasdale of the same title from her 1920 collection Flame and Shadow. Although Teasdale was writing about the horrors of trench and chemical warfare in World War I, the poem describes the "soft rains" following a war that has ended human life. The house recites the poem in the story.

Ray Bradbury's story was first published on May 6, 1950 at the height of the Cold War and reflects anxiety about the possibility of a nuclear apocalypse. The automated house remains standing after the city and the people in it have been destroyed by a nuclear bomb. There are several details that make this obvious. First, no people come to eat the food the house prepares, or show up at any point in the story. The destruction of the city is described as follows:

The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.

We also are told of silhouettes of the charred family incinerated by the nuclear blast on the outside of the house. 

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