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There will come soft rains

There will come soft rains



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Published by: api-3755562 on Oct 15, 2008
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Close Reading:: There Will Come Soft Rains...
pictures taken from
The Ray Bradbury Chronicles #3
There Will Come Soft Rains
 In the living room the voice-clock sang,
Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up,time to get up, seven o'clock!
as if it  wereafraid nobody would. The morning houselay empty. The clock ticked on, repeatingand repeating its sounds into the emptiness.
Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!
 In the kitchen the breakfast stove gave ahissing sighand ejected from its warm interior eight pieces of  perfectly browned  toast, eight eggssunnysideup, sixteenslices of bacon, two coffees, and twocool glasses of milk.
"Today is August 4, 2026," said a second voice from the kitchen ceiling., "in the cityof Allendale, California." It repeated thedate three times for memory's sake. "Todayis Mr. Featherstone's birthday. Today is theanniversary of Tilita's marriage. Insuranceis payable, as are the water, gas, and light bills."
Somewhere in the walls, relays clicked,memory tapesglided under electric eyes.
Close Reading
 Notice that the story opens with no exposition.The reader is given no background informationbut is instead immediately presented with anunusual situation- a house of voices. Thesevoices drive the story.Personificationis usedconstantly to describe the house's actions. .
"…Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up timeto get up, seven o'clock!
as if it were afraid thatnobody would." Already the "character" of thehouse has hinted to unknown knowledge. As itbecomes obvious that there no humans are goingto appear it also becomes clear that this talking,moving house
the main character of the story.This presents the reader with some obviousquestions:
Where are the people? Why is thehouse making breakfast, singing out times and reminders, if there are no human masters to beserved?
While the answers to these questions arenot directly stated, certain things can and shouldbe inferred through the deeds of the house. It isconstantly reaffirming the idea that there oncewas a family living here.Eight-one, tick-tock, eight-one o'clock,off to school, off to work, run, run, eight-one!
 But no doors slammed, no carpetstook the soft tread of rubber heels. It wasraining outside. The weather box on the fron door sang quietly: "Rain, rain, goaway; rubbers, raincoats for today..." And the rain tapped on the empty house,echoing.
Outside, the garage chimed and lifted itsdoor to reveal the waiting car. After a longwait the door swung down again.
 At eight-thirty the eggs were shriveled and the toast was like stone. An aluminumwedge scraped them down ametal throat  whichdigested and flushed them away tothe distant sea. The dirty dishes weredropped into a hot washer and emerged twinklingdry.
Bradbury is skillful at juxtaposing the fabulouswith the ordinary. The setting for this tale is the21st century in a automated house with nopeople, yet the main action here is the making of a traditional toast & egg breakfast. The words of the clock are reminiscent of children rhymes.Indeed, the weather box uses the familar song of "
 Rain, rain, go away...
" These everydayhumanistic events contrast starkly against theemptiness of the house.
http://home.earthlink.net/~hiflyer/APbradbury/twcsr.htm (1 of 7)10/2/2004 6:59:35 AM
Close Reading:: There Will Come Soft Rains...
sang the clock,
time toclean.
Out of warrensin the wall, tinyrobot  micedarted. The rooms wereacrawl withthe small cleaning animals , all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs,whirling their mustached runners,kneading the rug nap, suckinggentlyat hidden dust.Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their  pink  electric eyefaded. The house was clean.
Ten o'clock. The sun came out frombehind the rain. The house stood alone in acity of rubble and ashes. This was the onehouse left standing. At night the ruined citygave of a radioactive glow which could beseen for miles.
Ten-fifteen. The garden sprinklerswhirled up ingolden founts , filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness.The water pelted windowpanes, runningdown the charred west side where thehouse had been burned evenly free of itswhite paint. The entire west  faceof thehouse was black, save for five places. Herethe silhouette in paint of a man mowing alawn. Here, as in a photograph, a womanbent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in onetitanticinstant  , a small boy, hands flung into theair; higher up, the image of thrown ball,and opposite him a girl, hand raised tocatch a ball which never came down.
The five spots of paint- the man, thewoman, the children, the ball- remained.The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.
At this point a new type of descriptive dictionis applied to the house's actions-naturalist oranimalistic.This imagery seems almostoxymoronicwith the make-up of the house, "allrubber and metal."The almost fanatic cleaning of the small mice-like machines and continuous tolling of the clock seem to indicate a household that wasaccustomed to order and routine. Thishousehold was also used to elegence andconvenienve. There is a distinctdiction used todescribe the actions and interiorof the house.The house is "delicat[e]" and elegant. Even itstoast is "perfect." These descriptions of this onestanding house contrast with description of therubble that surrounds it.Here Bradbury begins to give away his secrets.He does not blatantly tell the reader that someatomic holocaust has occured but instead revealsthis indirectly through a description of theoutside of the house and its surroundings. A"silhouette" is all that is left of each its masters,imprinted on the west wall of the house. Notonly is the cause of their death explained butalso the course of it. Each of the charred imagesis busy, mowing the lawn, picking flowers,playing ball. This was a family at play, unawarethat they were about to experience a "titanticinstant" that would be the rest of their life.
Thegentlesprinkler rain filled the gardenwith falling light.
Until this day, how well the house had kept its peace. How carefully it had inquired, 'Who goes there? What's the password?" and, getting no answer fromthe onely foxes and whining cats, it had shut up its windows and drawn shades inanold-maidenly preoccupation with self- protectionwhich bordered on a mechanical paranoia.
 It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow brushed a window, the shadesnapped up. The bird, startled, flew off! No,not even a bird must touch the house!
The house was an altar with tenthousand attendents, big, small, servicing,attending, in choirs. But the gods had goneaway, and the ritual of the religioncontinued senslessly, uselessly.
Twelve noon.
 A dog whined, shivering, on the front  porch.The front door recognized the dog voice
From the opening sentence the house has beenafraid- afraid no one would get up, afraid of being alone. Here that fear is reinforced. Byusing the altarmetaphorthis fear becomesclearer. The house is afraid because it has beenleft behind. It is alone and masterless.Yet the house continues to do all that it knows todo. Even though its actions serve no practiclepurpose, it "angr[ily]" cleans up after the dog,"angry at inconvenience." The metaphore of atemple or altar continues as invading pieces of dirt are seen as "offending" intruders, treated likean idol such as Baal. Perhaps the house thought
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Close Reading:: There Will Come Soft Rains...
and opened. The dog, once large and  fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores, moved in and through thehouse, tracking mud. Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick upmud, angry at inconvenience.
For not a leaf fragment blew under thedoor but what the wall panels flipped openand the copper scrap rats flashed swiftlyout. Theoffendingdust, hair, or paper,  seized in miniature steel jaws, was raced back to the burrows. There, down tubeswhich fed into the cellar, it wasdropped like evil Baal in a dark corner.
that if it removed such an evil presence, its"gods" would return.
The dog ran upstairs, hysterically yelpingto each door, at last realizing, as the houserealized, that only silence was here.
 It sniffed the air and scratched thekitchen door. Behind the door, the stovewas making pancakes which filled thehouse with a rich odor and the scent of maple syrup.
The dog frothed at the mouth, lying at the door, sniffing, its eyes turned to fire. It ran wildly in circles,biting at its tail , spunin a frenzy, and died. It lay in the parlor for an hour 
Two 'clock,sanga voice.
 Delicatelysensing decay at last, theregiments of micehummed out as softly asblown gray leaves in an electrical wind.
The dog was gone.
 In the cellar, the incinerator glowed suddenly and a whirl of sparks leaped upthe chimney.
 Two thirty-five.
 Bridge tablessprouted from patio walls.Playing cards fluttered onto pads in ashower of pips. Martinis manifested on anoaken bench with egg salad sandwiches. Music played.
 But the tables were silent and the cardsuntouched.At four o'clock the tablesfolded likegreat butterfliesback through the paneledwalls.
It is ironic that for all the fantastic ability of thishouse it still can not act outside of its wiredprogramming. The family dog is starving, dying,and the house continues to pump out pancakesfor an empty kitchen.This scene where the dog turns on itself issymbolic of what happened to its masters- theirown creations were turned against them anddestroyed them. This is also foreshadowing forthe upcoming demise of the house. As much asthe house tries to eliminate the dead dog and thesense of "decay", it itself is decaying. It is only amatter of time before it dies.We begin to see theextended metaphorthatdescribes the house and its minions asmilitarycomponents.Again the actions of the house are given anaturalisticdescription. It is ironic that for allthese people seemed to desire to shut out nature,suppress it, and control it for their convenience,their creations end up imitating it.Four-thirty.
The nursery walls glowed.
 Animals took shape: yellow giraffes,blue lions, pink antelopes, lilac pantherscavorting in crystal substance. The wallswere glass. They looked out upon color and  fantasy. Hidden films clocked though thewell-oiled sprockets, and the walls lived.The nursery floor was woven to resemble acrisp cereal meadow. Over this ranaluminum roachesand iron crickets , and in the hot still air butterflies of delicate red 
Again we see a paradox of an artificial naturebeing brought into this technologically obsessedhome. This nursery brings the irony home:humans destroy forest, humans build fancy-shmansy home over destroyed forest, humandesperately try to recreate the forest with "walls[of] glass", "iron crickets", and the "aroma of animal spoors."
http://home.earthlink.net/~hiflyer/APbradbury/twcsr.htm (3 of 7)10/2/2004 6:59:35 AM

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