Warm Up (In your Reading Journal) Read the following statements and choose the one that you agree with the most. Then, write a few sentences explaining/supporting your choice. Technology will be the salvation of humankind. Technology will be the destruction of humankind.
Essential Question What is the theme of “There Will Come Soft Rains”?
Technology What is the main element missing from the story and why is this significant? There are no humans present in the story, only traces, shadows, echoes. Bradbury explores an ironic reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of human nature, while warning against the limits and dangers of technology. The same advancements that enable the people of the future to create this fully automated house are also responsible for the creation of the nuclear weapons that lead to their destruction.
Theme Man’s Relationship with the Machine – People put too much faith in their technological creations – People have the power to create devices that can help them and also those that can destroy them; however, there is no evidence to suggest that mankind enacted any measures to prevent their destruction
Technology is a tool for humans, not something we should “follow” or “need” House is preoccupied with keeping time, a human construct; despite the absence of any humans, the house continues to be concerned with celebrations of time: “Today is Mr. Featherstone’s birthday. Today is the anniversary of Tilita’s marriage. Insurance is payable, as are the water, gas, and light bills” (1). Theme – Man’s Relationship to the Machine
Theme – Man vs. Machine Religious metaphor – “The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly” (2). What is the significance of this quote in the story?
Theme Machine & Nature – Despite the absence of humanity, natural cycles continue in the story (weather, the sun emerges after the rain) – The effect of the neglected technology is still present in nature “At night, the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles” (1). Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the wall, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaper rubble and steam: "Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is...“ (4)
Setting The setting is a unimportant US city that lays in ruins because of humankind’s irresponsibility with technology: “The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing” (1).
Setting cont. A house that runs completely independently would be seen as a terrific accomplishment by many, but probably Bradbury. Why do you think that the setting for this story is important in thinking about the theme(s)?
Conflict What is the primary (main) conflict of There Will Come Soft Rains? Man (represented by technology; man’s creation) v. Nature "Fire!" screamed a voice. The house lights flashed, water pumps shot water from the ceilings. But the solvent spread on the linoleum, licking, eating, under the kitchen door, while the voices took it up in chorus: "Fire, fire, fire!" The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind blew and sucked upon the fire. The house gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry sparks moved with flaming ease from room to room and then up the stairs. While scurrying water rats squeaked from the walls, pistoled their water, and ran for more. And the wall sprays let down showers of mechanical rain. But too late. Somewhere, sighing, a pump shrugged to a stop. The quenching rain ceased. The reserve water supply which had filled baths and washed dishes for many quiet days was gone. The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the oily flesh, tenderly crisping the canvases into black shavings (3).
Conflict cont. There is a constant idea in the story that sets mankind against the natural world. Bradbury wove this idea in his themes, setting, conflict, and other parts of storytelling. Are there any other types of conflict in the story? Look at the following types of possible conflict, and inquire if they are part of the narrative? Man v. Self Man v. Society
Point of View (POV) Who (or what) is telling the story? 3 rd Person Limited (WHY?) What purpose would Bradbury have to include this type of POV? Think about the themes and the conflict. If technology is cold and inhuman, and uncomprehending, does that make the reader better understand what the author’s purpose is?
Protagonist/Antagonist Identify the protagonist (main character) and the antagonist (the force that opposes or fights against the protagonist). For help, examine the themes and the conflict. Remember, this is not an issue of good and bad, but who or what the story is about, and what/who opposes them.