What do you think the title means in "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains"?  

What do you think the title means in "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains"?

 

 

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title is a reference to a poem, and to the catastrophe that killed all of the people. 

The title tells us right away that the story takes place in the future.  You have to remember that it was published in 1950, so 2026 seemed a lot farther away than it does now.  Now it is a few years away, which is scary in itself!  However, the technology in this story is more advanced than what we have.  The house is very self-sufficient, and everything is automated.  It takes care of the people, doing everything from making them breakfast to reminding them of their bills. 

Unfortunately, there was a recent catastrophic event that did not destroy the house, but killed off its people (and eventually the family dog). 

The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing 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 ball which never came down. 

The “titanic instant” that incinerated the people was likely some kind of nuclear blast. That could be the soft rain of the title, because atomic activity often causes acid rain.  The soft rain is kind of ironic.  It actually would be very dangerous rain. 

In the poem “There Will Come Soft Rains” that is recited in the story by the house, there is a reference to “soft rains” and war.  According to the poem, the animals and nature will barely notice when we are gone.  Humans will destroy themselves with war, and then the world will go on without us. 

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree

If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,

Would scarcely know that we were gone.

The catastrophic event in the story was likely caused by a war. We don’t know, but atomic bombs don’t just go off.  The poem’s inclusion seems to allude to war.  The people were going about their business, and then one day they were gone.  The house went on without them, not knowing they were gone. 

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There Will Come Soft Rains

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