There Will Come Soft Rains Questions and Answers
by Ray Bradbury

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What is the theme, or main message, of the story?

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The main message of this story could differ from reader to reader, and the story contains multiple themes. Themes can lead readers toward choosing a particular message, but a story's theme and message are not guaranteed to be the same thing. Thematically, there are themes that focus on nature and technology. I could even be convinced that the story has a theme of family as well since it shows a house that once contained a family that spent time together at the table and/or out in the yard together. One message that I like steering students toward is the general belief that technology is inherently beneficial and has the ability to solve all problems. This concept has been referred to as the "Myth of Technology as Protector and Savior." This Bradbury story shows that thinking is flawed. As great as the house's technology was, it couldn't save them from the disaster. Additionally, it was man's technological advances that created the apocalypse in the first place. The takeaway is then that technology is both beneficial and incredibly dangerous.

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Though he was fascinated with and inspired by technological growth, Ray Bradbury also possessed profound fears about its potentially destructive and dehumanizing effects. In "There Will Come Soft Rains," a 1950 short story inspired by a 1920 Sara Teasdale poem, Bradbury expresses the theme that Nature will outlast anything man can create on Earth. 

Though the fully automated house at the center of the story continues to function for a few days in the absence of its owners (who have apparently perished in a nuclear holocaust, the most destructive force manufactured by mankind), it is brought to its end by elemental forces of Nature. A tree branch, brought down by wind, leads to the ignition of a flammable cleaner, and fire consumes this symbol of man's technological achievement.

Bradbury's story observes that mankind could ultimately bring about its own destruction through war.  Because the world had so recently witnessed the global resonance of the atomic bombs that ended WWII , Bradbury's cautionary tale about the self-annihilating potential of technology was particularly resonant.

Bradbury, Ray. "There Will Come Soft Rains." 1950

 

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