Will There Come Soft Rains? | Teen Ink

Will There Come Soft Rains?

July 6, 2019
By Emilyi SILVER, Shenzhen, Other
Emilyi SILVER, Shenzhen, Other
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped its first atomic bomb from a bomber plane on Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb exploded with about 13 kilotons of force, leveling five square miles of the city and killing eighty thousand people instantly. Three days later, another bomb was released over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The destructive atomic bombings created enormous mushroom clouds which not only shrouded the sky over Japan, but also stirred heated debate on the issue of nuclear weapons. In 1950, “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury was first published in response to the Cold War arms race during the Atomic Age in the 1940s to 1950s. As an advocate against nuclear weaponry, Bradbury warns the readers of the over-reliance of mankind on technology and cautions the readers against the destructive nature of technology through deliberate omission of details and use of imagery.

During the Atomic Age, extensive nuclear weapon testings took place in the Pacific, showing the fearsome damage it can cause. Instead of describing the impact directly, Bradbury takes a different approach to present the disastrous impact of nuclear weapons by using omitted details in “There Will Come Soft Rains”. The story opens with the absence of human characters, greeting the readers with personified descriptions of a house where the breakfast stove “gave hissing sigh”(1), the weather box “sang quietly”(1), and the house itself “shuddered”(4). These actions all account for the activities only human can perform, thus the house resembles the quality of humanity and clearly embodies mankind in the story. Consequently, Bradbury employs the absence of human characters to imply the setting which is in the future when humans are eradicated and foreshadows the ultimate tragedy of humans. Bradbury also omits details regarding the nuclear bombing in the story, leaving the readers to freely interpret themselves. However, Bradbury also gives hints throughout the story. Bradbury mentions that the house is located in “a city of rubble and ashes” and that it is the “one house left standing”(1). Subsequently, he also infers through the poem that “not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,/ if mankind perished utterly;”(3). Ironically, this poem is the favorite of “Mrs. McClellan”, the sole referred character in the story. Instead of introducing the character, Bradbury only vaguely alludes the name and then focuses on presenting the poetry with an “electrical”(2) and “mechanical”(4) robot’s voice. Bradbury uses both words to create a callous and detached tone, helping the readers to visualize a futuristic world with robotic dominance and enhancing the irony along with the omission of human characters. The poem otherwise is disheartening, claiming nature’s indifference towards humanity. But the results of the human race is still unknown from the story, as Bradbury implies that there is still hope because the catastrophic future hasn’t come yet. Therefore, Bradbury uses the omission of human characters to establish that over-reliance on technology leads human to destruction, but it is not too late to change.

Another literary device Bradbury employs to warn against the destructive quality of technology is imagery. Bradbury uses a horrific visual image of the house burning down to show the readers the brutality of the atomic warfare: “The house shuddered...its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to led the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air”(4). “Red” and “bared” provides the visual sense, while a kinetic image of the house shaking and falling apart amid the fire is established through verbs such as “shuddered”, “cringing” and“quiver”. This power image also creates a sense of pain and discomfort as dictions “torn...off” and “scalded” connote. As mentioned before, the house represents the human race, accordingly, the fire symbolizes the destructive power which technology possesses. Thus, Bradbury uses a relatable metaphor comparing the house as a victim and the fire as a surgeon. Moreover, the simultaneous use of personification which humanizes the house to have feelings reinforces the appeal to the sense of pain for the readers, making the imagery more engaging. Consequently, Bradbury effectively alerts the readers to the danger of the destructive nature of technology.

Today, the issue of nuclear warfare seems to come to a halt, with the Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effort in 1970. Millions of people contributed to the end of the Atomic Age, including Ray Bradbury through his literary works, members of the antinuclear movement in 1961, and female protesters during the Women Strike for Peace demonstrations; however, there are still nations ambitiously developing their missiles and nuclear weapons. Bradbury had already anticipated the disastrous ending of mankind with the over-reliance on technology and has warned us against the danger of it. It has come to a crucial point for us to decide whether do we want to witness history happen again or to halt the expansion of this destructive device.

The author's comments:

This essay was written by me after reading Ray Bradbury's short story "There will come soft rains". The essay discusses critical elements in the story and explains the message of the piece and how it connects to both the past and present. The debate around the use of nuclear weapons remained unsettled until today and continues to play an important role in recent events.

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