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

Start Free Trial

What is the organizational structure of "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For approximately the first two-thirds of Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the story is organized chronologically, as the "voice-clock" sings out the time of day. At seven, it is time to get up, and at eight it is time to go to school. Despite the fact no humans appear, the automated house goes through its routine. It makes breakfast, cleans, waters the lawn and sets up for the afternoon card games. This organization helps build suspense as the reader wonders why no people are there to hear the house's messages or eat the prepared food. For its part, the house goes on completely normally as if nothing were amiss, as it tells the time and stays on its schedule.

It's at ten o'clock that the reader is alerted as to why no humans are around. The text tells us that the house is the only one left standing in a "city of rubble and ashes." At ten-fifteen, the reader discovers the burnt shadows of the parents and children on an outside wall (the same kinds of shadows that were seen in Hiroshima in 1945). Obviously, the city has been the target of a nuclear attack.

The reader may assume that this mechanized routine might go on forever since the house takes no notice of its absent inhabitants. It even chooses a poem to be read aloud when no selection is given. This reading of Sara Teasdale's "There Will Come Soft Rains" begins an organizational change in the story. The poem is about a world with no people which seems to get along perfectly fine without the human element. Unfortunately, the serene itinerary of the house is interrupted at this point.

Bradbury writes, "At ten o'clock the house began to die." A fire breaks out as a tree limb crashes through a kitchen window, igniting cleaning chemicals and setting that part of the house ablaze. The singing out of the time of day ceases as the house goes into action to avert disaster. The organization in the final two-thirds of the story abandons the chronological theme. The house has bigger problems as it does everything within its means to fight the fire. It eventually loses the battle and most of the house is reduced to ashes. One wall remains and, as if to show its robotic resilience, a voice is heard reciting the date over and over.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the organizational pattern of Bradbury's story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

"There Will Come Soft Rains" is largely set up in a chronological pattern; the events start at the beginning of one day and end 24 hours later. Attention is distributed to various times throughout the day that correspond either to predetermined events, such as breakfast or playtime, and random ones, which the house must adapt to. Some of these events are merely descriptive, while others, especially the unanticipated ones, are established in a problem-solution organizational pattern.

Problem-solution instances include the bird that lands on the window, the dog that enters the house and dies, and especially the fire that eventually destroys the house. Indeed the entire story could almost be treated as two separate stories and organizational patterns; the lead-up to the outbreak of the fire tells us almost everything we need to know about the house, its "personality" and capabilities, so that its reaction to the fire doesn't come as much of a surprise. The portion of the story dealing with the fire also establishes the first real conflict and objective; the house seeks to put out the fire, to solve the problem, whereas the majority of the chronological events that took place throughout the day had no objective other than performing a preprogrammed action.

So, the predominate organizational style is a chronological sequence, with underlying problem-solution events.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What is the organizational pattern of the story "There Will Come Soft Rains"?

The organization of this story is chronological. It takes place in a 24 hour period from August 4, 2026 to August 5, 2026.   It starts at 7 A.M. with the computer getting everyone up for the day.  

"Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o'clock!" (pg 1)

The computer continues to cook breakfast, notify the family of any events that day, tell them what to wear to deal with the weather, and get the children off the school.  

At nine-fifteen, the computer mice clean the house. 

At ten o'clock the sun came out from behind a cloud, and you could see that this house was the only house that had been left standing after a nuclear event. 

At twelve noon, the dog returns with sores on his body and slowly dies.  By two-fifteen, the cleaning mice have disposed of his body. 

At two thirty-five the bridge tables were set up and at four o'clock they were put away.

And so the day progresses until a bough of a tree crashes into the house and starts a fire.   The time of day rules the story. The final lines end August 4th and start a new day.  

"Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is......" (pg 3)

The computer is repeating itself because the home has been destroyed and the computer is damaged.  

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on