illustration of a nature scene with a bird in the grass next to a puddle that shows a translucent reflection of a human

There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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What role do the animals play in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

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In “There Will Come Soft Rains,” one animal, the family’s pet dog, has survived longer than the human beings, but it also succumbs to radiation poisoning and dies. Its injuries and weakened condition, and then its eventual death and removal, indicate the accelerating harm of the radiation, implying that all species will eventually perish, and traces of them may vanish as well.

Bradbury also includes robot mice, which keep the almost empty house clean and represent the nearly complete takeover of machines in the society of the time. Because they are machines rather than living beings, the robot mice last longer.

Bradbury introduces the robot mice near the story’s beginning. The narrator describes how the rubber-and-metal animals clean the house, sucking the dust as a vacuum cleaner would, then retreat into their burrows.

After it has been established that the human residents have died, the dog is introduced. The automatic door lets it into the house from the porch. The huge animal is in dreadful condition, its flesh wasted away to bone and its body “covered with sores.” The dog also represents the distress of survivors, as it goes around the house looking in vain for its familiar humans. Its horrific death is then described, as it spins wildly around before collapsing. The automated house soon removes its body.

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