There Will Come Soft Rains Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

There Will Come Soft Rains book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are some examples of imagery in the story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,927 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Imagery is description that uses the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. The imagery in Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Short Rains" first reveals the pointlessness and poignance of a technology that keeps working once all the humans it serves have been destroyed. For example, there is pathos in the sound imagery of the house addressing nobody:

 The weather box on the front door sang quietly: "Rain, rain, go away; rubbers, raincoats for today…" 

Bradbury's poetic imagery personifies the house, making it seem like a human being. Here Bradbury uses sound imagery to personify the house's technology:

It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up. The bird, startled, flew off! No, not even a bird must touch the house!

Below, Bradbury uses visual imagery to show a harsh and relentless technology trying to control nature:

For not a leaf fragment blew under the door but what the wall panels flipped open and the copper scrap rats flashed swiftly out. The offending dust, hair, or paper, seized in miniature steel jaws, was raced back to the burrows.

Ironically, technology, which is designed in this case to serve every need of the home's owners, is also what has destroyed the owners through a nuclear war. In the end, nature will win. Bradbury shows this in the following imagery of the house catching fire:

The wind blew. A failing tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!

Bradbury continues to personify the house, and the following image, though primarily visual, also includes a sense of heat and motion:

The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.

Imagery at the end shows the destruction of the house:

Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Michael Del Muro eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write316 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Ray Bradbury's story "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes many haunting images about the absence of human life after a nuclear strike kills all people in this community, at least.

Most of the imagery in the story is visual and creates a sense of emptiness in this world. In the story's second paragraph, Bradbury creates the image of a breakfast waiting to be eaten: "...eight pieces of perfectly browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk." A few paragraphs later, a car sits "waiting" and playing cards sit "silent" and "untouched."

The most haunting image of this story is Bradbury's description of the family that used to live in this house. All the family members, except for the family dog, died in the nuclear blast. Bradbury describes the image left on the "charred west side" of the house:

"The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man moving a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a blall which never came down."

Besides the haunting visual imagery, Bradbury creates several instances of audible imagery. The "voice-clock" singing the time and and a second computerized voice saying the date: "Tick-tock, seven o'clock..." and "Today is August 4, 2057." The sound of the house "clicked" and "hummed."

Meanwhile, the imagery related to the fire is animal-like and it was "licking" and eating" and "fed upon Picassos and Matisses."



check Approved by eNotes Editorial