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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Does "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury contain symbolism?

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Symbolism in "There Will Come Soft Rains" includes the voice-clock and the family dog. The voice-clock symbolizes the changes which have occurred in the daily lives of humans. The dog, who later enters the house, symbolizes the cold and uncaring way technology views loyalty. Nature also plays a key role in the story's symbolism, demonstrating its superiority to man's creations that ultimately lead to destruction.

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The final showdown, so to speak, between the mechanized house and the casual act of nature symbolizes the fact that nature is, without even trying to be, far more powerful than anything human beings can create. The house has gone about its business for some time now, doing the chores and making the food it has always done. However, one day, "the wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window." This tree bough smashes a container of cleaning solvent over the stove, and this solvent bursts into flames, initiating the fire that spreads quickly throughout the entire house. The house does try to save itself, closing off rooms and sending out the mechanical mice to spray water at the flames and sending streams of water down the walls to prevent the fire from spreading. But the wind "blew and sucked upon the fire" so that the heat breaks the windows and allows the fire to grow.

Despite all of the thoughtful devices human beings have created to deal with fire, to prevent such catastrophes from occurring, it only takes one solitary tree branch and a stiff wind to destroy it all. Nature, with very little movement at all, is able to reduce the house and all its fancy technology to ash, figuratively showing how much more powerful nature is than anything man can create.

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This short story opens with a "voice-clock" repeating reminders of date and time into the stillness and emptiness of a house devoid of people. This clock symbolizes the changes that have happened due to humanity's constant need for technological "progress." The clock is a reminder that humans have acquired the changes which they sought to make their lives easier, and their worlds have become so automated that they don't even need to remember anniversaries or the dates bills are due. The technology of the house maintains reminders of all this information for them. Yet as the voice-clock issues its reminders to an empty house, the ultimate message is clear—these improvements in their daily lives are now meaningless.

The family dog later returns to the house, and when the house recognizes his voice, the door opens and allows him to enter. The dog seeks the family who once lived here as he runs around upstairs, yelping at each door. Defeated upon finding no one inside, the dog returns downstairs and dies. The dog symbolizes both loyalty and a brokenness that exists between the capabilities of technology in the absence of people. The house has the ability to help the dog, yet instead of providing the nourishment which the dog desperately needs, the house prepares food and then disposes of it. Humans mediated the connections between the technology that could alleviate the burdens of life, and in their absence, their loyal pet cannot navigate the world which they have created. His loyalty is not valued by the technology of the house, demonstrating the ultimately cold and impersonal world humans have created.

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The symbolism present in Bradbury's story points to mankind's proclivities for waste, pollution, and destruction, contrasted with the purity and regenerating forces of the natural world.

Even after the family has been obliterated in the nuclear blast, the house continues to consume and waste: it prepares meals that no one eats, cleans the dishes, and flushes the uneaten food "away to the distant sea." The house wastes water on the lawn, as the "sprinklers whirled up in golden founts."  Beyond the house, "the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles." 

Nature, however, goes about its everyday business: the sun continues to rise and set, the sun shines, and the soft rains come.  Fire, one of Nature's most elemental forces, ultimately consumes the house that is symbolic of man's ostensible superiority, but at the story's end, "dawn showed faintly in the east."

Bradbury symbolically suggests that Nature has the capacity to outlive humanity's ruinous ways.

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In "There Will Come Soft Rains" Ray Bradbury portrays symbolism through the house, the mice, and the poem. All of these objects reflect mankinds use of technology. We are steering away from human interaction and our routines are becoming monotonous, mundane, technology-driven activities.

The house symbolizes mankind. We are constantly busy. Everyday we check off things on our "to do" lists and make more, longer lists. Our routines are almost robot like. The robots in the story seem to be racing around like our minds at times.

"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." This section is symbolizing religion and seems to say people use religion in a senseless and useless way. Shortly after this quote the dog died. It implied that if you lose religion bad things will happen.

The poem at the end about soft rains explains that life will go on even if we die. Nature and materialistic things (our cell phone and computer) won't care if we are gone. Things will still keep functioning. We need to build human relationships with other people, because they are the ones care about us. We are truly becoming a technology driven world and this story symbolizes this through the house, the mice, and the poem.

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Is there foreshadowing in "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury?

Since the story is so short, there isn't much time to slip a whole lot of foreshadowing in, but, Bradbury does manage it.  Take a look at the first line.  Right in the first line of the story, it mentions that there is a clock that speaks out the time to the house and family, and tells them that it is time to get up.  Then, here is the foreshadowing; the clock speaks "as if it were afraid that nobody would."  Right there that is foreshadowing.  The clock, an inanimate object, is given a fear that no one would get up when it asks.  That foreshadows that indeed, no one will respond to its call, which alludes to something terrible having happened.

Breakfast is then not eaten--this could reference an empty house.  Then, when the clock chimes in again, stating that it is time to go to school, once again, here is the foreshadowing:

"But no doors slammed, no carpets took the soft tread of rubber heels."

Once again, there is a reference to an absolutely empty house, a house in which no one is going about their business, going to work and school.  From here on out, signs of emptiness increase--no car leaves the garage, the uneaten food is thrown away.  Then at ten o' clock, what has happened becomes much more clear--the story describes the house being the lone survivor in a ruined city.  At this point, we begin to understand what might have happened, and then right after that, we get the description of the images on the side of the house, images of the family that used to live there, that now does not because they were decimated.

So, the foreshadowing comes very quickly in the story, and in small ways until the full devastation is revealed; I hope that helps!  Good luck!

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How does the author use imagery in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Bradbury uses imagery in describing the dead humans as spots of paint.

Imagery is descriptive language that literally paints a picture in the reader’s mind.  This mental picture is created with sensory details and figurative language, and this chilling comparison encompasses both.

The story tells of a house that carries on after its inhabitants are dead.  The house is fully automated, and it does not realize that the people are all dead.  The reader does not realize it either, until Bradbury slams us with a most vivid image.

The house has been burned black, and only a few spots of its original white paint remain.

Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here … a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over … a small boy, hands flung into the air … and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.

The family was caught and captured in this “titanic instant” when the bomb blast hit.  Their images were burnt into our minds, because they shielded the house and created perfect silhouettes of their last moments alive.  They will forever remain a father mowing the lawn, a mother picking flowers, and a brother and sister playing catch.

Authors use imagery to help the reader get the point.  Here, the point about the danger of relying on technology is clearly made.  We create things to make our live easier, but we can only hope to avoid being the victims of our creations.

For more, see: Scroll down to imagery.

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What does Bradbury's description of the fire suggest in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

The short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury tells the tragic story of an automated house that continues to operate as if all is well despite the fact that the owners, and presumably all humans in the area, have been killed. This passage implies that the deaths were probably caused by something instantaneous such as a nuclear holocaust:

The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing the 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.

These are obviously the former occupants of the house, destroyed in a catastrophic instant. In their absence, the house continues to function until the random occurrence of a falling tree branch starts a fire. The fire is in fact a chance event, but in his description of it, Bradbury suggests that it is the enemy of the house that has come to attack and destroy it. He does this through personification, or the attribution of human characteristics to things that are not human. For instance, the fire "fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies." It "lay in beds, stood in windows, changed the color of drapes!" When robots try to put it out, "The fire backed off." "But the fire was clever" and its flames rush to the outside of the house.

If you read carefully, you can find numerous other examples of Bradbury's personification of the fire. He also personifies the house as a helpless victim of this relentless enemy in passages such as this:

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.

So Bradbury suggests an unforgettable image of the fire as a deadly ravenous monster come to devour and destroy the house, and the house as its innocent victim.

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What does Bradbury's description of the fire suggest in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

The narrator's description of the house fire in "There Will Come Soft Rains" is full of personification that suggests the fire is consciously destroying the automated house. The fire doesn't destroy the house, it "fed" and "lay" and "backed off" and it "was clever" and "rushed back."

In addition to personifying the fire, he compares the house to an animal, including predator-like descriptions. The house is "gushing green chemicals" and the fire "backed off, even as an elephant must at the sight of a dead snake." The fire wins the battle when it destroys the "attic brain" with a "clever" explosion.

Each of these instances demonstrates how Bradbury wants the reader to think of the fire. He wants you to see the fire as a human (or sentient) opponent of the mechanical house. At the end of the story, this is the thematic idea presented. These mechanical advances humans make are only temporary and, when all humans are gone and only these machines are left, nature will battle and reclaim all that is hers. 

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What message do you think Bradbury is trying to convey in the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

I think the full message of "There Will Come Soft Rains" is not fully appreciated without reading it in its context within The Martian Chronicles, but it does make several salient points in a stand-alone format.

In the broader context of TMC, humanity has been making difficult but progressively more successful expeditions to colonize Mars, discussing its own fate and the fate of the Martians in the process, but failing to account for the corrupting effects of the same society that made the colonizing technology possible in the first place. Where the Martian expeditions are in some ways, an exploration of a frontier and the very limits of human achievement and philosophy, "back home" things are the same as they ever were, and a nuclear war is foreshadowed repeatedly. 

"There Were Come Soft Rains" depicts the aftermath of this inevitable war; the entire edifice of human civilization collapses in a matter of days or months. Many of the Martian colonists return to Earth out of emotional sympathy, only to presumably die with the rest. By the end of the anthology, there seem to be very few humans left alive on either planet.

The message of "There Will Come Soft Rains", either by itself or fitting into this overall narrative, is that humanity was so concerned with its own importance, its conveniences, and its comforts, that its own demise came as a surprise, but that nature doesn't really care, and our sense of importance was relevant only to ourselves. Gradually, nature begins to reclaim the Earth from us and our ruins, and our existence sudden seems to be very superficial.

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In Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," how do we analyze his use of imagery?

What you have identified is the importance of setting and the imagery that is used to describe it in this important dystopian story that is almost unique for having no actual characters whatsoever. I will have a look at the first opening paragraph to analyse the imagery and see how Bradbury uses setting to convey his message.

The story starts unforgettably by presenting us with a future world which is supremely technologically advanced:

In the living room the voice-clock sang, Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o'clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. The mornign house lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!

In the kitchen the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and ejected from its warm interior eight pieces of perfectly browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk.

Clearly the extent to which technology has advanced is incredibly impressive - literally there are robots to do everything for you! However, as you read the rest of the story you begin to realise what Bradbury is trying to aim at. With no human characters, this story is an ironic reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. It is also a warning about the limits and dangers of technology. The same technical wizardry that enables people of the future to create a fully automated house is also responsible for the creation of the nuclear weapons that destroy the human race. What use is all our cleverness and ingenuity at having created a machine to make our breakfast for us, Bradbury seems to ask, without the wisdom to accept our own vulnerable position in the universe?

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What is an explanation of the imagery used in "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

There are a number of places that Bradbury uses images to get across a certain image but one of the most powerful is the description of the shadows burned permanently onto the western wall of the house.

Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick up 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.

Bradbury takes the time to craft this image very carefully, depicting not a man panicking or running in fear from the terrible news of a nuclear onslaught but a man mowing the lawn, doing something ordinary and something that many people could identify with.  The horror of this nuclear destruction is in its suddenness, in the fact that without warning the entire city could be wiped away with nothing left but these shadows and this one, lone house.

The same goes for the images of the woman and the children.  They are all engaged in normal, innocent, completely run of the mill activities that were recorded by the horrible flash of light that burned their shadows into the wall forever.

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What does the imagery in Bradbury's "There will Come Soft Rains" suggest about the foreshadowing?

The simplest way that the images foreshadow the reality in Bradbury's wonderful story is that they imply the situation before it is fully brought home. When Bradbury writes of the "dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores," he communicates just how badly things have gone for all the world before the picture is fully complete. After that, all the images of destruction imply that more will come. Though the house is standing at the start of the story, it stands almost alone, and so there's little surprise that things break down by story's end. Third, it shows that there is a kind of beauty in destruction.

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What imagery of destruction does Ray Bradbury use in the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is Ray Bradbury's depiction of the aftermath of a nuclear attack and an automated house which survives despite the deaths of the humans who live there. Bradbury structures the first two-thirds of the story by the house's announcements of time. By eight-thirty the reader realizes that something is amiss as the prepared breakfast is not eaten and is "flushed" away. At ten o'clock we discover that the house is the only one left standing in the city. The description of the "city of rubble" is the first use of imagery evoking destruction, but is not the last.

Images of people who have been killed are blasted on the charcoaled outside wall, and the dog, who has survived the initial blast, succumbs to radioactivity as "its eyes turned to fire." In the last third of the story destruction reigns as the house catches on fire when a tree crashes through a window, spilling a flammable liquid on the hot stove.

Despite all its best efforts to avert calamity, the robotic house cannot quell the spreading conflagration. Windows break, flames race from room to room, the blaze destroys furnishings and, as the attic crashes into the kitchen, the house dies. Bradbury describes it like a "bared skeleton" as wires and the inner workings of the house are revealed by the intense heat. The house is finally portrayed as "heaped rubble and steam." 

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