What is significant about the cause of the house’s “death” in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?
The cause of the house's death starts with a nuclear holocaust but, significantly, it is nature that wields the final, decisive blow.
Although the house's occupants are all dead, the house continues caring for them. It has no way of knowing that the family it is designed to function for is no longer alive, or that the culture that nurtured it has been blown up.
Finally, however, it is nature that starts the house on its path of "death." The text tells us:
At ten o'clock the house began to die.
The wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!
For all its technology, the house can not combat nature's blaze successfully. The roof collapses and all but one wall of the house is destroyed.
The message of the story is twofold: first technology has gone out of control, as evidenced by the nuclear war and a technologically advanced house that goes on mindlessly despite its lack of purpose. Second, in the end, nature wins out over humankind's pride in its technology. This relates to the Sara Teasdale poem quoted in the story, which discusses the ultimate quiet triumph of nature over mankind:
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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