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There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury Analysis

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Hai To        

Professor Kirsten M. Burkart

English 112, 4202

20 November 2017

        Ray Bradbury, an American writer, was one of the most popular fantasy and science fiction writers of the 20th century. Hundreds of his short stories have been adapted for film and television. Acknowledging the terrible devastation of atomic bombs in war, Bradbury infuses fantasy and horror in most of his works, in the form of advanced technologies and destruction in the near future. One of his short stories, “There Will Come Soft Rains”, is a short science fiction story written during the 1950s. The story describes a post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear disaster, where human kind has been extinct. The story starts off with a computerized house which does everything automatically: making the beds, cooking breakfast, cleaning, etc. Even though it appears that no one is currently living in the house, the house's automated system continues as if nothing has changed. One night, a random tree branch falls into the house and ignites an accidental fire. The house tries to put out the fire, but the fire continues, and in the end destroys the entire house. The story’s message is that even though humans depend so much on technology, they will eventually destroy themselves, only technology remains. However, neither humanity or machine can outlast nature.

        “There Will Come Soft Rains" is titled after the randomly selected poem read by the house, which is an actual poem by Sara Teasdale. The main idea of the poem is that nature will overcome humanity in the future. This random choice by the house is ironic considering everyone in the house has been eradicated after the nuclear explosion. Bradbury’s story was published five years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. While Teasdale’s poem is told in a gentle, rhyming tone, Bradbury’s story seems to be more dark and horrific. In the poem, “swallows circling with their shimmering sound”, “robins will wear their feathery fire”, “frogs in the pools singing at night” (A-23). The effect of those soft words like “shimmering”, “singing” creates a whole smooth and peaceful prospect. In contrast, Bradbury describes nature in his story through lonely foxes and whining cats, a family dog covered with sores and starving, and finally "ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy and died" (A-22). In the story, animals suffer no better than humans.

Humanity seems to be completely forgotten in Teasdale’s poem, regarding no element of nature -- not even Spring herself -- would notice or care whether humans were gone. But in Bradbury’s story, the house appears to be artificial; almost everything described in the story has traces of humanity: “Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers.” Meals are prepared every day but no one is there to eat, games are set up but no one plays them, drinks are prepared but not drunk. The story is full of automated voices announcing times and dates that are meaningless. All the details that are mentioned in the story are proof that humans used to depend on technology in almost every field, before they destroyed themselves by their own technology, the nuclear explosion. Although mankind has been extinct in the story’s world, there are still legacy and traces left by humans, technology, as a reminder to the world that humanity once existed. The house has a self-protection system, “If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up” “Not even a bird must touch the house!” (A-21). But eventually technology can’t protect itself from nature, as the house is burned down by a falling tree.

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