In what kind of community does "There Will Come Soft Rains" occur, and why does that make the story effective?
The sad story of Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," appears to be set in the idealistic surburban neighborhoods of America. The story specifically mentions Allendale, California, which has many suburban elements to it: house, car and garage, mowed lawns with sprinklers, a family of two and a dog. This idealistic setting, one that many people dream of having their entire lives, is, in this story, not enough to save the family and neighborhood from the destruction that came their way.
This setting makes the story effective, because the suburbs of America are supposed to be blissfully happy, filled with peace and safety, free from turmoil and conflict. It is a safe place that, if you work hard your entire life, you can live in and quietly raise a family. It symbolizes prosperity, the American dream, happiness, and achieving one's goals. And yet, even with all of these things, it too was not unreachable from the evil influences of the outside world. It is more effective because there is a calm, happy family just living their lives (the father and son are playing catch--how much more idealistic can you get?), and yet are wiped out. The went day to day, unaware of what was coming their way. It is more tragic, more ironic, and more profound, making a statement that we can never be too careful, we must always be involved in protecting our country, because everyone can become a victim if we are left vulnerable. It shows the true victims of such awful warfare. I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!
In the opening paragraph, Bradbury explains that the story takes place in Allendale, California in the year 2026. The setting is all important to the story because it is another one of Bradbury's futuristic works in which mankind's quest for convenience, love of technology, and neglect of personal relationships cause its downfall.
Additionally, Bradbury has to set the story in the future because at the time of his writing it, automated houses did not exist (at least not like the one in "Rain"). Today's readers might not see the house as such a stretch because we have so many automated, timed items in our American homes. For Bradbury's original readers, the story was set in 1985 (one year past Orwell's futuristic 1984) and was first published in the 1950s. The story's not-so-distant-future theme is more believable to original readers because the United States was in the middle of its arms race and Cold War with the Soviet Union, and a nuclear disaster seemed eminent.
Now, instead of focusing so much on the global political implications of the story and its setting, readers most likely identify with America's insatiable desire for all things technological.