Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" and Mark Twain's "The Damned Human Race" both share similar messages. Both authors point out the flaws of the human mankind. In Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” he used an imagery futuristic story tale and Mark Twain’s “The Damned Human Race” does so by using experiments with nature. Ray Bradbury’s story of futuristic tale about an atomic blast which wipes out a city. While Mark Twain writes about how animals have fewer flaws than humans. Both stories can be very baffling and have an enormous amount of information to decipher the first time you read them, until you look into the deeper meanings of the stories.
In the “Damned Human Race”, Mark Twain uses scorn and logic to explain how the human race is actually of poorer quality than other animals. He explains how humans descended from other animals and that they are more “animal” than animals. Twain shows that humans are vengeful and also indecent and vulgar. Man is the only animal that engages in war, unnecessarily killing masses of his own species and man is the only kind to take from its own. Twain also goes to show that man is the only kind who enslaves his own species. He also goes to say man is the only religious animal and that he will kill others and commit crimes in support of his religion. Twain implies that the main reason that man is so defected is because of his sense of morality because man knows between right and wrong that he can commit wrongs. Without a sense of morality, man is no different from other animals and in the process, he is more perfect. Twain states, “I find this Defect to be the Moral Sense. He is the only animal that has it. It is the secret of his degradation. It is the quality which enables him to do wrong. It has no other office. It is incapable of performing any other function. It could never have been intended to perform any other. Without it, man could do no wrong. He would rise at once to the level of the Higher Animals. Since the Moral Sense has but the one office, the one capacity (to enable man to do wrong) it is plainly without value to him. It is as valueless to him as is disease.” (Twain, On The Damned Human Race)His essay does in fact prove many good points and I agree and disagree to a point with Mark Twain’s essay. He did live in a different time but cruelty still exists today just the same. If you evaluate the human race you can find evil in both creatures. Humans and animals cannot be matched equally. Yes, animals do terrible things, but so do humans. Within the essay The Damned Human Race, Mark Twain strongly proclaims that the human race is both damaged and corrupt, and that people actually should be classified as 'lower animals' rather than the formerly known 'higher animals.' Mark Twain states, “I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower animals” (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me. For it obliges me to renounce my allegiance to the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals; since it now seems plain to me that the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.” (gardner) Twain does not hold claim to a Darwinians Theory. He did however perform experiments to support his findings. Before he began the experiments he stated, “In proceeding toward this unpleasant conclusion I have not guessed or speculated or conjectured, but have used what is commonly called the scientific method. That is to say, I have subjected every postulate that presented itself to the crucial test of actual experiment, and have adopted it or rejected it according to the result. Thus I verified and established each step of my course in its turn before advancing to the next. These experiments were made painstakingly in the London Zoological Gardens, and covered many months of painstaking and fatiguing work.” (Twain, The Damned Human Race) The experiments were mind blowing and cruel. Twain stated, “In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which the other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately. Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh, not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.” (Twain, On The Damned Human Race) The way Twain was is appalling and Twain also went on to tell a story of a hunter killing seventy-two buffalo and eating only part of one. He contradicted this by experimenting with anacondas and calves. The anaconda only killed what was needed, as opposed to the Earl. This seemed to imply to Twain, that the man descended from the anaconda and not the other way around. Perhaps the Earl did not respect the buffalo which I feel is true. Although it does not mean that humans always kill to be cruel and wasteful. Mark Twain just lists the human’s bad traits and yet there are numerous of positive traits too. There are bad people, but yet there are also good people as well. It is still true today that good people do exist and surely to be true in the time when Mark Twain lived, the 1860s. In the 1860’s, around the time when Mark Twain lived, there was an American Civil in which he was a soldier for a brief time. War and this is probably why he was so ashamed of human beings. Mark Twain said, "I was a soldier two weeks once in the beginning of the war, and was hunted like a rat the whole time. Familiar? My splendid Kipling himself hasn't a more burn't in, hard-baked and unforgettable familiarity with that death-on-the pale-horse-with-hell-following-after which a raw soldier's first fortnight in the field--and which, without any doubt, is the most tremendous fortnight and the vividest he is ever going to see." (Lombardi) This is yet another point to why Twain possibly disliked human mankind. Mark Twain also could have suffered from an emotional standpoint. He lost his father when he was eleven years old and also lost three his four children at a young age and even his good friended past. “Twain passed through a period of deep depression that began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. Olivia's death in 1904 and Jean's on December 24, 1909, deepened his gloom. On May 20, 1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly.” (Wikipedia) Mark Twain continues to point the out many flaws of human mankind, but not enough of the good qualities that we, the humans possessed back then and also currently today. We have to look deep within to overlook the bad and to appreciate and the see the good. If society didn’t have moral values we would not have people who are becoming vegans to save an animals, or being more eco-friendly to help save the planet, or people to work in the medical fields to treat the sick and dying. We must have decent morals somewhere deep within despite how Twain believed. Now this brings us to the story by Ray Bradbury “There Will Come Soft Rains”. I felt a little confused the first time I read it. Matter of fact I read it a few times to grasp it. The story begins by introducing the reader to a computer-controlled house that cooks, cleans, and takes care of virtually every need that a well-to-do family could have. The story begins on the morning of August 4, 2026, in California. It follows the house through some of the daily tasks that it performs as it prepares its occupants for a day of work and school. At first it is not apparent that anything is wrong, but later on, it becomes apparent that the individuals who once resided in the smart house no longer did. The intelligent technology had outlived its creators. While no straightforward explanation of the nonexistence family is told. The shadows of a woman, a man, two children, the dog, and their ball are described as having been burnt. The house was described as standing amongst the ruins of a leveled urban city with a radioactive glow. Bradbury states, “Ten o'clock. The sun came out from behind the rain. The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles. Ten-fifteen. The garden sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted windowpanes, running down the charred west side where the house had been burned evenly free of its white paint. The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a 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. The five spots of paint—the man, the woman, the children, the ball—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.” (Kadden) The story portrays a scene of obliteration, in which the human race has been destroyed by a nuclear war. “Over the course of history, mankind has only used atomic weapons in war twice due to the overwhelming devastation they caused. The bomb mankind created was too powerful for humans and its use would only lead to our demise. Ray Bradbury knew this, as he lived through the development and use of the original atomic bombs.” (University) Now as the story continued Ray Bradbury continuously updates the audience on the time of the day throughout the story. He began the story at seven o’clock in the morning and it is ended at ten o’clock at night. By including this, Bradbury allows the audience to see that time passes when dealing with technology with or without the presence of humans. Time stops for no one and continues to pass through the good, the bad, and the ugly. With passing time comes changes including people and utilities. This world is different now, in 2014, than it was in 1950. Things are becoming more have become more modernized. Instead of hand washing dishes, people now utilize dishwashers. Instead of massive, stationary computers, people are now equipped with thin, portable laptops. As the time continues to pass, things will continue to be upgraded, invented, and modernized. In the story “There Will Come Soft Rains”, time passed even without the interference and company of humans, and instead with the company of technology. The house is capable of doing many great things that replaces the need for humans too. With the power of technology to perform such tasks, humans altogether are not needed and may even be believed unnecessary. Bradbury emphasized the need before technology and how with it, time passed by without humans in this story by including the hour of the day, repeating certain phrases, and detailing technology’s abilities. The technology in the story created such strict routines and narrow creative opportunities in a way that made mankind seem like machines themselves, repeating the same processes over and over and not being able to think for themselves. Bradbury states, “Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine,” “Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean,” “Five o'clock. The bath filled with clear hot water.” (Kadden) Imagination and creativity are both destroyed in the people of the story “There Will Come Soft Rains“, due to the influence of technological advancements.
Throughout the story, Bradbury also tends to provide great detail of the capabilities of the technology behind the smart house. Including these introductions followed by specific details, Bradbury expressed his view on the rise of advancements of technology. I particularly like the part where the Bradbury said, “Nine o'clock. The beds warmed their hidden circuits, for nights were cool here. Nine-five. A voice spoke from the study ceiling: Mrs. McClellan, which poem would you like this evening? The house was silent. The voice said at last, Since you express no preference, I shall select a poem at random. Quiet music rose to back the voice. Sara Teasdale. As I recall, your favorite….”. "There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
if mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone." (Kadden)
The poem described how nature is unaffected by the human extinction that has occurred as the result of war and wash away all our imprint with "soft rains". The world would will not even notice the mankind is gone, but to leave an imprint, however heavy that may be and that too would eventually be removed and forever lost. Man has always dignified themselves because they invent, create, and so on and we detach ourselves from Earth, and create artificial substitutes. For me this poem is a prophecy of the destructive power of the human race and how our warlike characteristics turn us against nature. By always trying to defeat nature we are in fact destroying ourselves.
Both Ray Bradbury’s and Mark Twain’s essay were very informative and interesting. It is through these workings that the present and even future audiences may be able to realize that although technology may be a great aid and advancement, it will soon surpass society if caution is not used. Yes, time will continue on and many individuals will allow themselves to rely too much of technology’s capabilities. It made me think about the how messed up mankind really is. It makes you realize the social, the moral, and the religious corruption that occurs all over the world. Even though, I believe Twain is making fun of cultures and humanity he is making an important point while doing it. I think the fact that Twain can entertain you while also teaching you something is what makes this work so incredible. I really enjoyed essay and I think any piece of writing that can make you really think about something is remarkable.
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