Bradbury's story is set in an empty house. All the humans who once lived in it have been killed, but the house, which behaves almost as a human character, continues functioning as if the owners are still alive. The story takes us in detail through all the activities the house goes through during the day. Its clock sings out the time and tells the occupants to get up, its stove makes a breakfast of eggs and bacon, and the kitchen ceiling, which keeps the calendar, notes what bills are due to be paid.
Outside, the garden sprinklers come on, having no way to register the imprints of the family members, images in white against the blackened house exterior. The reader realizes what the house cannot, that the family—and the entire society—have apparently been suddenly incinerated in a nuclear attack.
Although the house does the work traditionally done by human servants and imitates a living, breathing, thinking creature, the absence of any humans shows just how rigid and sterile the technology operating the house is. The house really can't think, and in the end, is destroyed by fire. By showing the limitations in the technology of the high-tech house, Bradbury shows how limited technology in general really is, suggesting we should not put too much faith in it.