“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury is the story of an automated house. Or
is it the story of the humans who used to live in that automated house? There have been
many discussions circling that question: “Who is the main character of this story?”
SHORT STORY SUMMARY
“Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to get up…” announces the house. It gets busy making
breakfast, rattling off the importance of today’s date and reminding of the day’s
upcoming activities. It prepares the owners for the weather outside. The house cleans up
the uneaten breakfast, and little robot mice vacuum the floor.
This is about the time you realize there are no occupants in the house, and it is carrying
on as usual without anyone there to notice. And that is where the question comes into
play… the question “Who is the main character of this story?” Is it the house? With all
it’s chores and voices? The house that pulls the blinds and opens the garage and turns
on the sprinklers? Or is the main character the people who are not even there? What
happened to them? Why won’t they be back? What is the bigger story here?
“There will come some rains and the smell of the ground…” reads the house to Mrs.
McClellan. A very considerate house to choose the favorite poem of it’s matron
occupant when she does not make a request of her own. “And no one will know of the
war, not one will care at last when it is done…”
Yes, another story I remember reading for the first time over 20 years ago. This one
stuck with me because of the haunted feeling I was left with after reading it. The
realization that our humanity is really so fragile. I remember the discussion my English
teacher engaged my class in.
We discussed this thought: “The development of the Atomic bomb will end all war or all
men.” It was a thought that was hard for us to accept, because war is part of our reality.
Nuclear weapons don’t cause a second thought for most of us. We discussed alienation.
Not little green aliens… but how alienated people in the future will become… from each
other. And how we are the people in the future when considering when this story was
Anyway, some food for thought… I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to
leave me a comment.
- Word Count: 2,134
- Page Count: 4
- This story was first published in 1950 as part of The Martian Chronicles.
- Be sure to check out Jason Sanford’s review of this story.
WHERE TO FIND THERE WILL COME SOFT RAINS
- You can download a free copy at the Jerry W Brown web site.