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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Descriptions and quotes in "There Will Come Soft Rains" that contribute to the mood


In "There Will Come Soft Rains," descriptions of the empty, automated house and quotes like "the house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat," contribute to a mood of eerie desolation and impending doom, highlighting the absence of human life and the relentless march of time in a post-apocalyptic world.

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What three descriptions of the setting in "There Will Come Soft Rains" contribute to the mood?

The setting is obviously based around a future world with an unprecedented level of technological sophistication. But your question also points towards the mood that is created by the description of the setting. It is clear that the description Bradbury uses creates a desolate, lonely mood, as we are presented with a world in which humans have been made extinct. Consider the following examples:

The morning house lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!

Notice how the repetition of "empty" and "emptiness" serve to create the desolate mood of a world without humans.

The sun came out from behind the rain. The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.

Here, the description of the one house left standing in a city of "rubble and ashes" again reinforces that impression of desolation and destruction. Note how the "radioactive glow" creates an eerie impression of danger.

This mood continues to be sustained and developed throughout the story as we are witnesses to the normal daily routine of this household - but without humans. Again and again the high level of technological sophistication we are presented with emphasises one of the key themes of the story - the irony that man has reached such scientific heights but has also managed to make itself extinct through those same advances.

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What three descriptions of the setting in "There Will Come Soft Rains" contribute to the mood?

In Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the setting is of such importance that it is truly the main character of the story.

It is August 4, 2026, two days from the anniversary of the apocalyptic dropping of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, the automated house stands alone, the sole survivor in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. Amazingly, all the other houses are but ashes and rubble, but the house still functions. The voice-clock acts as the morning alarm, "time to get up, time to get up, seven o'clock!"
In the kitchen there are the sounds of breakfast being made as the automatic date reminder announces the birthdays and anniversaries and bills to remember. Then, the clock says that it is time to go to work and to school; however, on this day there are no sounds to be heard. No one closes a door, no one runs down the stairs.

Later, the little robotic mice come out and clean the floors, the shriveled eggs that were not eaten are cleared off plates that are then washed. When all the tasks of cleaning are completed, the mice scurry back into their burrows. Outside, the most remarkable sight is visible on the walls of the house: the silhouettes of a man, a woman, and a boy and girl are burned onto the sides of the house. The rest of the house is "a charcoal layer" now when heretofore it has been 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, unsteadily.

When a dog, once large and healthy, but now reduced to bone and full of sores, comes to the door, it whines and the house opens its door. The pitiful dog froths at the mouth, spins, and drops dead from cancer. Sensing decay, the robotic mice again appear and sweep the dog into the house incinerator.
Still, the house continues its automated routine: the nursery changes to a virtual meadow where children can play, the bath fills for the children; the fire place glows. At 9:55 p.m. an automated voice asks Mrs. McClellan which poem she would like to hear on this evening. When there is no response, the voice reads Sara Teasdale's "There Will Come Soft Rains."

After this reading, the house starts to be destroyed as a tree falls and a branch breaks a window, sending cleaning solvent onto the stove. A great conflagration begins, and the house cannot put it out. The fire spreads throughout the house and the voices die as the machinery all comes on at once as circuits burn. In electronic chaos, music is played, the lawn mower runs, an umbrella is set up outside, the cleaning mice run "insanely" in manic confusion as the stove reignited by fire falling upon it repeatedly prepares dozens of bacon strips and loaves of toast. Finally, there is a crash; then, there is smoke and silence. The house is virtually destroyed, but it endeavors to announce the date, "Today is August 5, 2026....

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What are three quotes from "There Will Come Soft Rains" that describe the mood?

This story gets its title from Sara Teasdale's poem of the same name. In the story, the mechanical (nearly sentient) house asks Mrs. McClellan, presumably the woman of the house, what poem she wants to hear in the evening. Having been annihilated by the atomic blast, she is not there to answer and the house chooses Teasdale's poem which ironically was Mrs. McClellan's favorite. 

In Teasdale's poem, the world (of nature) goes on. It doesn't matter, to the frogs, trees, and the seasons themselves that humans have destroyed each other. In Bradbury's story, the scene is similar although the family dog and the house itself do miss that human presence. (The dog can't feed itself and the house is useless since it can not function for the human family.) 

The house is programmed to function like a servant but it also has a sentient and/or personified quality that really gives the reader the sense that the house is a living thing. Consider these lines: 

The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind blew and sucked upon the fire. 

In the absence of humans, Bradbury personifies many things: the fire feeds on Picassos and Matisses "like delicacies" the house "tried to save itself" and the fire "was clever." 

The personification of the house is striking, almost as if it becomes the echoes of the human family that once lived there. The house takes their place as a living entity: 

The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air. 

Note how the house actually yells for help. However, as sentient as the house seems to be, it is not human. Note how insanely and inhumanly it acts in its waning moments, reading the poem: 

And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked. 

Finally, the last line is like a machine stuck, repeating its own end, like a gravestone marking the last day of its existence: 

"Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is . . . "

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