Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

By 1950, Bradbury was well aware of the looming threat of nuclear holocaust and of the irony that the technology that could be used to make life more comfortable for humanity could also be misused to bring about humankind’s ultimate destruction. In creating the house that is the focal point of the story, human beings have made their scientific knowledge work for them to render daily life orderly and carefree. Before the nuclear explosion, the inhabitants of the house clearly lived a pampered existence, and it was the house itself, humankind’s creation, that pampered them and that indeed even did much of their thinking for them. The house cooked, cleaned, and protected itself without the expending of any human energy. Martinis and sandwiches appeared readymade for the bridge party, and the cards were even mechanically dealt. The children were entertained with fantasy worlds on film projected on the walls of the nursery, and their parents with poetry read at their request by a voice box. The house also reminded the owners to pay their bills, to acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries, and to take along galoshes and umbrellas. Ironically, once the house made possible by humankind’s technological advances started to function, it no longer needed humankind. So smoothly did the house run itself that it might have lived on much longer had not nature interfered.

In Bradbury’s prophetic look at the future of modern society, human beings by the year 2026...

(The entire section is 439 words.)

There Will Come Soft Rains Themes

Bradbury's tale, devoid of human characters and concerned with failed technology, presents several themes that explore the dark side of the...

(The entire section is 615 words.)

There Will Come Soft Rains Themes

Death and Meaninglessness
World War I brought an entirely new meaning to the idea of conflicts between nations. While thousands of patriots from each of the countries involved went eagerly and confidently into battle, thousands more were shocked by the massive undertaking, never before having witnessed such large-scale political participation in warfare. For many, that shock led to disillusionment with their own governments and depression over the loss of so many young men who fought and died without fully understanding why they were fighting and for whom they were dying. Sara Teasdale was one of the latter.

For years, the poet had used her creativity to write love poems. Her style was simple, elegant, and innocent, expressing feminine sensitivity to romantic relationships, marriage, loss of love, and the beauty of finding it again. Addressing the brutality of physical battle and warring nations did not enter her work until her own emotional response to World War I forced her into it. This was new territory for Teasdale, but she ventured into it with the same simple yet imposing style, changing only her themes to reflect the dark mood and nagging fear that plagued her own mind and her environment. Suddenly, life seemed meaningless. With so many people willing to take up arms and march into strange lands ready to kill or be killed, Teasdale found it difficult to maintain any sense of decency or order in the world, to hold onto a belief in a gentle and peaceful human nature. Both her anger and pessimism are evident in “There Will Come Soft Rains.”

The first half of the poem—with its pastoral scenes and pretty depiction of animals and trees in their natural states—is a set-up for the second half when suddenly the tone turns bitter, admonishing mankind’s absurd and chaotic behavior. The total disappearance of human beings from the earth is not as far-fetched an idea as it once may have been, and...

(The entire section is 794 words.)