illustration of a nature scene with a bird in the grass next to a puddle that shows a translucent reflection of a human

There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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There Will Come Soft Rains Characters

The main character in “There Will Come Soft Rains” is the house.

  • The house stands after an implied nuclear blast that seems to have obliterated most life on earth. The images of the people who once lived there are burned into its side. Somewhat like a modern-day smart home, the house continues all its daily functions, cooking meals, cleaning, and setting up card games that no one will play.

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The House

“There Will Come Soft Rains” is a unique story in the sense that it contains no human characters. All the human characters have been destroyed in the nuclear explosion, leaving the house as the sole character. It is automated, mechanical, yet personified with human descriptions. This juxtaposition makes the house a combination of human and machine.

The house is not a traditional character; it is multifaceted and characterized in the way a machine is. Its components are disjointed yet connected by the overall system. On the one hand, the house is cold and technical. The mice express irritation and annoyance at having to pick up after the dog, who has tracked mud into the home. As the dog limps from room to room, the house continually supplies food and drink to nonexistent recipients. All the while, the dog suffers from radiation poisoning and hunger. When the dog dies outside the kitchen, the mechanical mice detect decay and promptly incinerate the animal. The house carries on cleaning the dishes and untouched food with no regard for the life that was once there. It merely goes about its task as normal, functionally untouched by human presence or absence.

Although the house has no understanding of the nuclear blast, it responds to the eerie silence in the days following by shutting and shuttering the windows “in an old-maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.” The idea of self-preservation humanizes the house. When the fallen tree branch causes a fire, the house screams and quickly quenches it. It responds frantically by both attempting to stop the fire and by malfunctioning, not unlike a person in panic. It screams, sings, and goes into overdrive trying to protect itself.

The house, therefore, becomes an unusual main character by combining human and mechanical elements. Its demise is the fire. Nature has destroyed both what is human and machine, leaving only one remaining wall of the house in its wake.

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