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There Will Come Soft Rains

by Ray Bradbury

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How does the structure of "There Will Come Soft Rains" affect the story?

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"There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury is a story set in Allendale, California, which has been destroyed by nuclear war. The story begins on August 4, 2026, and ends on August 5, 2026. It covers a single day and is told in chronological order.

The main character in the story is a house run by a computer that has been programmed to perform regular tasks, including issuing reminders and alerts to human occupants. The story is structured around the house announcing the time and then performing time-appropriate activities, such as making breakfast, helping its occupants get ready for work and school, gardening, cleaning, and entertaining children. Of course, the occupants are dead—except for the dog, who returns home only to die of radiation poisoning.

What makes this structure so effective is the way it contrasts the expectations of a perfect suburban family life with the eerily empty reality of an apocalyptic world. Every time the house prepares a meal and no one shows up to consume it, readers are struck by the poignancy of the situation, but in a way that avoids sentimentality through the mechanistic quality of the intelligent house protagonist.

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