English II Pre – AP
2 May 2014
Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” Analysis
Many of Ray Bradbury’s novels tend to focus around the idea that humans downfall will be due to the increased attention to technology and machines are incapable of human emotion. Unlike most short stories, “There Will Come Soft Rains” does not have any human characters. It is just an automated house. The house performs a routine, similar to a human’s. It makes pancakes, cleans itself, reads poems in the study and more. But for whom? The family that used to live in the house, and the surrounding area, has been wiped out by a nuclear blast. The house does not realize and continues as if nothing is wrong. As the story draws to a close, a tree limb breaks through a window, beginning a chain reaction and starts a fire inside the house. The house desperately tries to save itself, but fails. Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” presents many themes, including that human values are becoming lost, arguing that people cannot control their outcome; however, the greatest truth presented is that nature will live on without humans and humanity.
Throughout the short story, the idea that human values are becoming lost is prominent. Human feelings, such as sorrow and joy, are only possessed by humans. At the beginning, the only surviving member of the family, the dog, walks into the house extremely sick with radiation poisoning. The dog has tracked in mud and the robotic mice that clean the house are not happy about it. Behind the dog “whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at the inconvenience” (Bradbury 2). Instead of feeling sympathy and compassion for the dog, the robotic mice are “annoyed” at the mess he’s made. Say a human were in the house, they would find treatment for the dog or at least feel sympathy for the dog’s situation. However since the mice are robotic, they are incapable of feeling these emotions. They are simply “angry” at having to pick up the mess, and shortly after, the dogs corpse. In an essay by Jennifer Hicks, the author discusses the different images in “There Will Come Soft Rains” and their negative connections. In the story, everything is computerized, including the kitchen appliances. She discusses a “stove that cooks by itself, a miracle we all might want, unfortunately creates ‘toast that was like stone’” (Hicks 236). The stove makes the majority of the food in the house for the family. But unfortunately, it lacks the ability to cook the toast to perfection; it is programmed to make it hard as a rock. People are able to cook their own toast to the way they want it. As the story draws to a close, a fire breaks loose in the house and burns everything in its path. The narrator describes the fire as “…crackl[ing] up the stairs” and “…feeding on Picasso’s and Matisse’s” (Bradbury 3). Picasso and Matisse have produced some of the most valued masterpieces that have ever been created and the fire just burns them away. Machines and robots are not human and therefore cannot posses human qualities.
Ray Bradbury suggests that when humans try to change nature, they will meet similar outcomes just like when they try to change their fate. While the house is going through its daily routine, the narrator stops to describe the setting. He describes the house standing “alone in a city of rubble and ash…[and the] one house left standing” (Bradbury 1). From the excerpt, it can be determined that a nuclear explosion has occurred and the entire city has been reduced to “rubble and ash”. The nuclear bomb was originally developed to protect the people of the United States. Bradbury is telling the readers that what humans create to “protect” themselves will ultimately bring their downfall. As the story progresses, the narrator describes the incinerator in the cellar. Bradbury compares the “sighing of an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in dark corner” (Bradbury 2). The...
Cited: Bradbury, Ray. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” http://www.elizabethskadden.com/files/therewillcomesoftrainsbradbury.p df. n.p. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.
Haisty, Donna B. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 6. Apr. 2014.
Hicks, Jennifer. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 234-6. Print.
Peltier, Robert. “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Short Stories For Students. Ed.
Kathleen Wilson. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 236-8. Print.
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