Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” is about a house in August 2026. Since it’s the future, the house operates itself, ringing bells and sounding alarms when the humans who inhabit it need to do something, like waking them up at 7:00 or sending them to school and work at 8:00. The house continues to function like it normally would throughout the morning, speaking loudly to the empty rooms with commands at set hours of the day. It is then revealed that there was a massive explosion, most likely nuclear, that destroyed the entire city of Allendale, CA and killed the inhabitants of this home in an instant. The house continues its usual routine when the dog that belonged to the former inhabitants of the house shows up. He searches the house for his humans, and ends up dying in the parlor. His remains are taken away by the mechanical mice. The house continues. During a windstorm, a tree is knocked into the window, spilling cleaning solution and setting the house on fire. The house tries to save itself, but its efforts are futile. The whole house is destroyed except for one single wall, which feebly repeats the date over and over and over again.
This entire piece was haunting and creepy in the way only dystopianesque pieces can be. I love how you don’t really know what’s going on for almost the entire first page, and then Bradbury just slips in the fact that the former inhabitants are dead, and it wasn’t peaceful. I really enjoy how Bradbury writes the year 2026, which is 10 years in the future at current, with houses that talk to the people who live in them. I liked that this 4-page piece occurs over the course of one day, but so many events take place (the dog’s death, the fire) that it feels like it might be a couple days, even a week.
Quickly: the chronic tension, I’d say, was the bomb that destroyed the entire city. The acute tension moves from the dog’s death to the fire that demolishes most of the house.
I don’t know if anyone else saw it, but I read a parallel between the explosion that wiped out the city and the fire that destroyed the house. At the end of the explosion, there was only one thing left, which was the house. By the end of the fire, there was only one wall left. Did anyone else see this, or am I reading too much into it?
I’d like to imitate his personification of the house and the fire. Lines that began with ‘the house was…’ and specifically the phrase “the attic brain,” made it feel like the building was alive and making pancakes for people that didn’t live there anymore.
What did you think of the Sara Teasdale poem? I thought it was interesting that the homeowner’s favorite poem was about flames and perish, which occurred once within the text and once before the story begins.
How did you feel about “At ten o’clock the house began to die.”? Again with the personification of this house, and I thought it was the perfect way to describe the destruction of the “living” house.
What did you think of the humanization of the fire? Lines like, “Now the fire lay in beds, stood in windows, changed the colors of the drapes!” and, “But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there.”