There Will Come Soft Rains Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

There Will Come Soft Rains book cover
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What is an obvious statement of theme in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

An obvious statement of theme in "There Will Come Soft Rains" is contained within the poem that gives the story its name. The theme of the eradication of humankind is contained in the poem’s lines “Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, / If mankind perished utterly.” The story tells of a post-nuclear holocaust in which technology continues to operate although all the people have been killed.

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There Will Come Soft Rains” contains an obvious statement of its theme in the Sara Teasdale poem from which the title is taken. This theme is the complete annihilation of humankind. The two most relevant lines are

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

The story is notable partly because it has no living human characters. The entire story is a description of an empty house and a narrative of the house’s self-destruction. The action takes place during the course of a single day in the year 2026.

Given the lack of human characters, Ray Bradbury makes considerable use of personification, endowing the inanimate objects with human qualities. Their actions also connect closely with the language of the animals in the poem by Sara Teasdale. For example, in the story’s first line, the “voice-clock sang,” and later in the poem, “frogs ... [are] singing.” Other inanimate objects also sing, as well as sigh, hum, and speak. In contrast, “The house was silent.”

Mentions of the nuclear war that killed the people include the images of their vaporized bodies and the information that only one house remains in the radioactive landscape.

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.

The specific mention of war comes in the poem, which the automated voice reads. The poem begins by describing the “soft rains” that come after a war, when swallows circle, frogs sing, and robins whistle, while the wild plum trees blossom. These things happen despite the reality of the war, which the animals and plants do not know or care about. The natural world would continue even if the war did kill everyone—exactly as it has done in the story.

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

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

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

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