What is the central conflict of "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

The central conflict of "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury is between nature and technology. For centuries, man has used technology as a way of controlling nature, of harnessing its power for his own needs. But in the wake of nuclear Armageddon, the tables have been turned and nature now reasserts her control over technology that is now, in the absence of any human beings, quite useless.

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On the broadest level, the main conflict of the story is human technology versus nature, but this can be understood more specifically as human pride coming into conflict with the natural world. The title of the story alludes to a Sara Teasdale poem called "There Will Come Soft Rains ...

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On the broadest level, the main conflict of the story is human technology versus nature, but this can be understood more specifically as human pride coming into conflict with the natural world. The title of the story alludes to a Sara Teasdale poem called "There Will Come Soft Rains," which is also quoted by the house in the story. The poem highlights the central theme of the story: in a conflict between humankind and nature, nature will win. We are deceiving ourselves—we have an inflated sense of pride as a species—if we think that nature cares at all if we live or die. We have to adjust to the limits of the natural world, not vice versa.

This need to rein in technology is demonstrated, first, by the destruction of human society by a nuclear war that leaves the family the house serves dead. It is made clear a second time as the house goes through the motions of the day, trying to care for a family that no longer exists. When a fire finally breaks out in the house, no amount of technological sophistication can save it from destruction.

Bradbury's main concern when writing this story in 1951 was nuclear war: only six years before, the world was stunned to watch the power of atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, illustrating for the first time that our technology could go out of control and destroy all of us. This is still a threat, but more immediately, the story is relevant to climate change: if we are so proud as to think we can do whatever we want and nature will simply bend to our will, we are likely to have—or are having—a rude awakening.

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It is a general rule of storytelling that there must be conflict. A story without conflict is merely a sequence of events, one thing after another, with no drama or interest. "There Will Come Soft Rains" initially appears to be just such a sequence. There are actions, but no reactions. Food is prepared, sits untouched, and disappears down "a metal throat."

Conflict comes at the end of the story, however, when the house tries to save itself from the fire. This is man against nature, replicated as technology against nature, since the technology exhibits the instinct for self-preservation which characterized those who made it. Bradbury describes the conflict between the house and the fire as an epic struggle, personifying both as he tells the reader that "the fire was clever" and "the house shuddered."

The house's fight for survival, however, is the final conflict, but not the central conflict. This has already happened when the story begins, but the reader is invited to examine the evidence like a detective, to piece together a much greater cataclysm than the burning of a single house. In this conflict, humanity attempted to wield technology as a weapon to subdue nature, just as humanity has always done. Man lost the battle with nature, and the minor skirmish that occurs at the end of the story is a faint echo of his loss.

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The main conflict in "There Will Come Soft Rains" is between man and nature, or to be more specific, between the technology that man has created and nature. For generations, man has sought to control nature, to bend it to his indomitable will. Ever since the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, man's whole relationship to nature has changed completely. Nature is no longer something to live with, but a standing resource to control and exploit to satisfy man's needs.

In helping him to exploit nature more efficiently, man has made a number of technological advances. Such advances have also been used to provide an alternative natural environment to the one used and often abused by humankind. One such example would be the fully-automated house in "There Will Come Soft Rains," which attempts to replicate certain features of the natural world. Mice, for example, are transformed into robotic mice.

At the same time, the automated house exists to protect its human inhabitants from certain harsh and unpleasant features of the natural world, such as "lonely foxes and whining cats." The house will even protect those inside from a humble sparrow brushing up against the window.

Yet in the end, it's nature that ultimately triumphs in this epic conflict. Thanks to nuclear Armageddon, all humanity has been wiped out, so there's no longer anyone for the automated house to protect. The house and the technology on which it is based may have done a good job in protecting its inhabitants from nature, but it was unable to protect humans from themselves, as it was humans and their nuclear weapons that ultimately destroyed humanity.

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The central conflict of the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" concerns man versus nature, which is illustrated by the home's inability to protect itself from the destructive natural forces. The home is portrayed as a masterpiece of human ingenuity and technology. The home autonomously completes numerous tasks, which makes everyday life easy for its human inhabitants. It was designed to function flawlessly and provide a comfortable manufactured environment for the family. Unfortunately, the family that once lived in the home died during a nuclear holocaust, and all that remains is the autonomously functioning home. Despite the amazing capabilities of the home, it cannot compete with the natural environment. Once the large tree branch falls into the kitchen, the home catches on fire and is unable to prevent the flames from consuming it. The elements of nature are represented by the strong winds that knock down the tree branch into the home, which begins the series of events that destroy the technologically advanced home. The result of the conflict in the story represents how nature will outlast and overcome all human invention in the future.

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The central conflict is that between man and nature. In this case the idea that man has invented incredible machinery that can govern almost every facet of life but still cannot control the forces of nature.  Though it is not explicit, it appears that mankind has been completely wiped out through some kind of nuclear holocaust and the house has continued to function as a servant to mankind.

But it too cannot escape the forces of nature, in this case the fire that destroys it.  So the power of man, manifest through these automated machines, is eventually completely wiped out by the inevitable forces of nature.

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