The main backdrop of this wonderful short story by Ray Douglas Bradbury is the showcasing of the dark side and after-effects of nuclear warfare. In addition to that, the author also sheds some light on two other topics being, the power and reach of technology into our lives, and, the concept of death. Know the message of there will come soft rains.
Analysis of the story
Bradbury recognized the threat that nuclear weapons posed to the world in his time. He also sheds light on the irony when technology that was made with the intention of making life easier does exactly the opposite. He resorts to using horrific imagery, such as the emaciated dog, the four silhouettes where the inhabitants of the house were burned in the nuclear blast.
Most readers will notice that the house acts as the focal point of the whole story. This is a different and interesting approach that Bradbury has undertaken to put across his point of technology superseding humankind. The human occupants of the house lived a pampered and easy life, with the house automating their everyday life. Read further to know the message of there will come soft rains.
Pampered and carefree, the humans lost a lot of their ability to think and to be able to do things themselves. Everything from cooking meals at scheduled times to reminding them to pay their bills on time. The irony is that it goes so far as to continue for so long without any human intervention. Certain parts of the house were damaged, but if not for nature, the house would have easily continued to ‘live’ in pristine condition.
Bradbury’s dystopian future represents a time wherein human beings are so technologically advanced that they can control every aspect of their material realm, but seemingly cannot prevent their destructive tendencies. It is not directly implied that the present condition was due to nuclear warfare. Even then, it is evident that there is a juxtaposition between humankind’s tenacity for development, and their inability to prevent destruction.
Nature’s ability to persist is also shown throughout the short story. Even though the house is functional, it is dying for the most part and will gradually decay. We can infer from this the persistence of nature despite humans’ attempts to control the environment.
Towards the end of the story, we get to see humankind’s powerlessness against the forces of nature, despite great technological advancements. The moment when a tree branch is brought down by the wind indicates the beginning of a series of events that would destroy the house fully. Bradbury is attempting to assert that the natural cycle would go on for a long time after humanity’s extinction.
Humans and their machines
Machines have always been a source of fascination for mankind. The act of automating almost everything and not having to work is appealing. The story interestingly enough takes place after the negative effects of relying on machines too much take prominence. Even then it is easy to infer that the complex relationship between man and machine has contributed to their downfall in many ways.
There is a juxtaposition between the usefulness and destructiveness of technology throughout the novel. Bradbury showcases a house that can clean itself and take care of its inhabitants on its own without any interference. However, the same technology that made such a house a possibility made the house’s inhabitants into carbon shadows. As there are no human characters throughout the story, the author has demonstrated the darkness of a world without people.
As much as the house seems to have a conscience of some kind, it should be noted that it ultimately has no feelings of its own. Everything the house does is a result of its programming. In the absence of humans, these supposedly useful machines become useless.
Nature and Science
The scale of destruction done by technology is very clearly displayed by the author. Even with the aftermath of nuclear warfare, the force of nature is as strong as ever. The house for the most part has survived the man-made bomb, but towards the end, the fire is able to destroy the house. And an even more important point is that the earth and all its forces continue to exist in humanity’s absence.
The key point conveyed here is that the earth existed before humans came around and will continue to exist long after humans are gone. Looking at it from this perspective, we can see the futility of making machines that could potentially conquer natural forces on some level. Since nature is invincible, developing such technologies are only harmful to humans themselves.
One of the slightly more deeper and complex topics covered in the story is that of death. The setting of the story in itself is within a dystopian world where humans no longer exist. The author reduces any semblance of human existence to shadow outlines on buildings. This is in coherence with the point that nature will persist even without humans, there should be a fear within people to preserve themselves. In doing so, the author somehow hopes that humanity takes some precautions to survive and not be extinct.
We should also consider that the time at which Bradbury wrote this story was at the peak of nuclear proliferation with superpowers around the world. Therefore, in those times people constantly lived with the fear of mutually assured destruction. Somehow, it was the fact that one’s own life could be lost that kept world leaders from deploying their nukes around the world.
About the Author
Ray Douglas Bradbury was an American author and screenwriter. He has published novels in many genres and his works continue to be relevant even today. His most famous work is Fahrenheit 451, which has gotten a movie adaptation as well.
Ray Bradbury has done an exceptional take on the dangers of technology and its effect on humans in the long run. The story is relatively simple and puts across very deep and introspective themes in a very short span of time. We hope the message of there will come soft rains has been cleared.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the main message of ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’?
The dangers of nuclear weapons and how humans stand to go extinct if they do not take precautions to preserve themselves and the planet around them.
- What are the themes covered?
The main themes covered are nuclear warfare, the persistence of nature, death, and extinction.