“There Will Come Soft Rains”: Analysis of Narrative Techniques
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- There Will Come Soft Rains: narrative analysis
Unlike many short narratives, “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury does not center around human interactions or human society. The readers follow the story of a house that is loaded with artificial intelligence that continues its actions even after the demise of its owners. The house continues its modus operandi, similar to what humans would do, even with an unpopulated house. To analyze the narrative in “There Will Come Soft Rains”, this analysis essay will explore how Bradbury uses descriptive language and technique to show the readers that nature will ultimately triumph, regardless of humanity’s survival. One could see that the narrative describes the aftermath of human extinction where technology continues thriving until nature ultimately prevails.
There Will Come Soft Rains: narrative analysis
Bradbury attempts to portray the idea that technology will outlast and outpace humanity. “There Will Come Soft Rains” is about a house that does everything, such as cooking and cleaning, for the owners (before their demise, of course). Bradbury specifically shows the autonomous actions of the house by describing the emotionless disposal of the family dog. The uses of the house actions truly allow the reader to begin to speculate how technology will overtake humanity, even being obsolete in our own homes.
The reader is already aware of artificial intelligence like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home that appears in many homes already, but they are unaware of how far that may go in the future. Many may not believe it, but Amazon Alexa or Google Home is already aware of the presence of people who may or may not live in their homes (Weinreich). As “There Will Come Soft Rains” goes deeper into the “life” of this house, the reader realizes that the family ultimately does not make any decisions themselves – the house is responsible for doing things from chores to reading bedtime stories to the children. Since “There Will Come Soft Rains” takes place in the not-so-far future, it brings a real sense of truth to those who read it.
From beginning to end of "There Will Come Soft Rains", Bradbury uses descriptive techniques to give the readers a hint into humanity’s fate. Since the story begins on August 4, 2026, and the house describes the day as “Mr. Featherstone’s birthday”, “the anniversary of Tiltia’s marriage”, and that the “insurance is payable, as are the water, gas, and light bills”, it shows the readers that there was a family there at one point, but leaves the question in the reader’s mind if they are still living there or not (Bradbury 476). The reader begins to learn the fate of humanity as the house clicks on to announce that it is ten o’clock. The house, we learn, is “alone in a city of rubble and ashes” and is the “one house left standing” which faces the “ruined city” encased in a “radioactive glow” that is seen for miles (Bradbury 477). These descriptive and powerful words Bradbury uses allows the reader to form the picture of a world destroyed by their own technology and power.
As time continues to tick, the powerful imagery continues. Bradbury begins describing the white house that is no longer white – except for five places on the west wall. There is a silhouette of a man mowing a lawn, a woman picking flowers, a boy throwing a ball, and a girl waiting to catch it. This imagery becomes very vivid in the reader's head (Bradbury 477). These images were burned on the house in one instant in what is known as a “Hiroshima Shadow”, a haunting impression caused by the heat of an explosion which changes the color of a surface and causes the outline of bodies and objects that absorbed some of the blast (Nixon).
Bradbury continues to use descriptive language to emphasize technology and its ability to continue beyond humanity. However, Bradbury uses Sara Teasdale’s poem “There Will Come to Soft Rains” in order to do this. Teasdale’s poem focuses on humanity’s use of a nuclear weapon, foreshadowing the family’s ultimate demise. The house asks the family what they would like to hear before bedtime, and with no answer, it chose Teasdale’s poem. Teasdale’s poem reads:
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. (Bradbury 479)
Specifically, Teasdale’s poem is the namesake of the narrative, which implies to the reader that the poem is truly essential to his imagery. Bradbury uses this poem to warn of humankind’s extinction for society if the use of nuclear weapons begins. With this, Bradbury begins to interweave that nature will always triumph over humanity.
Yes, at the beginning of “There Will Come Soft Rains,” the house is obsessed with cleaning and keeping it maintained regardless of the fight it continues to have with nature. The house appears paranoid to the reader, as it continuously released cleaning mice and prevented a bird from touching the house (Bradbury 477). As the story continues, the house removes the family dog and disposes of it in its furnace after sensing its death, without remorse (Bradbury 478). This only takes about 15 minutes to show the reader how far technology has come as it has no regard for humanity.
However, nature begins to take over as a “falling tree … crashed through the kitchen window” (Bradbury 480). This creates chaos within the house, creating a fire in the kitchen. Bradbury uses this to show the house’s ultimate demise, proving once again that nature overcomes all. As the house tries to save itself, it slams the doors and windows shut, but ultimately the windows crack and the fire grows. With “ten billion angry sparks [moving] the flame with ease,” the house soon begins to give up. The imagery added by Bradbury allows the reader to see how technology is interlocked with nature, but cannot beat nature’s plan. The next day begins as the sun rises in the east. Nature has reclaimed all things at the end of the story, creating a new beginning for nature.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury uses descriptive language to conclude that nature will triumph once again, without technology to stand in its way. In the event of a nuclear war, there will be no stopping technology from becoming obsolete as humanity is the way it can be used. Even as the house tries to survive after the fire, ultimately there is no way to prevent nature from taking over the house. Using Sara Teasdale’s poem also allows Bradbury to foreshadow what could happen – and what ultimately did happen – to the house and life as we know it. Descriptive language allows the reader to imagine this as if it were real life and question what could happen in the near future.
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