Who had lived in the house in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The house was inhabited by a family of four before the nuclear blast killed them. 

The house in the story is fully automated.  Its job is to take care of its family, which consists of a mother, a father, a boy, and a girl.  Unfortunately, by the time the story starts the family is dead.  Some kind of disaster turned them into nothing other than spots in the paint. 

The five spots of paint—the man, the woman, the children, the ball—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.

It seems that when the blast hit, it incinerated the people as they were doing their everyday activities in the yard.  It immortalized and memorialized them as shadows on the wall.

The McClellan family’s house goes on without them.  It cooks them breakfast and gives them reminders.  It activates the nursery to entertain the children, who are now dead.  The family dog almost survived, but by the time it came back to the house it was in poor shape. 

The front door recognized the dog voice and opened. The dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores, moved in and through the house, tracking mud. Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at inconvenience. 

The robot mice clean up after the dog's corpse, and at that point there is no living thing left in the house.  The house itself acts almost alive.  It makes sure everything is in order.  When there is a fire, the house tries to put it out.  It does not succeed, and the house “dies.” 

The fire starts by accident.  A tree bough breaks a window and knocks solvent onto the stove.  Since there are no people left to intervene, the house cannot save itself.  It tries to activate sprinklers, but the fire is out of control by that time.

Read the study guide:
There Will Come Soft Rains

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