Who are the gods who have gone away in the story there will come soft rains?
In “There Will Come Soft Rains,” the ‘gods’ who disappeared are the people who lived in the house. The story is set in the year 2026, and the premise is that after the nuclear holocaust destroyed the city and its people, the house is left standing. The house goes on performing its tasks because it does not know the people are gone. “The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.” All the mechanical members of the futuristic house continue with their routine, but there is no one there to appreciate their work. The word gods may be referring to the people who invented a house that was able to perform these tasks, or it may be an ironic reference to men who believe they are gods and invent not only self-sufficient houses, but also nuclear bombs. Eventually, the house begins to burn up when a branch falls through the window and causes cleaning solution to fall on the stove, igniting a flame. Even the house, which is clearly not meant to be vulnerable, eventually “dies” – suggesting that nothing made by man is invulnerable to destruction by man.
The gods are the deceased members of the family, who were killed during the atomic blast that destroyed the city.
The story takes place on August 4, 2026, in the city of Allendale, California and depicts a technologically sophisticated home going through its impressive daily routine after a nuclear detonation destroys the entire city. All that is left of the family is their silhouettes on the western siding of the house as the robotic home completes the daily chores and announces certain times of the day. Bradbury writes,
The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly (3).
The gods Bradbury is referencing are the family members that once inhabited the home. The ritual of the "religion" are the various tasks that the robotic home automatically completes on an everyday basis for the family. As the story progresses, the family's dog eventually dies, and a tree falls on the home, which begins a series of events that result in the home burning down.