Not Really High Tech

Candace Brown

“There Will Come Soft Rains” is a science fiction short story about a technologically advanced house that remains after a large nuclear disaster, its significant vacancy, and another disaster that finally destroys the house. It was written in 1950 during the Cold War, a time of military and political tension to encourage readers of the intense harm of nuclear weapons. However, try as the story may, the argument is weakly supported and evidenced making the intentions fall flat. In the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury, there are many inconsistencies with the house’s technology, the surroundings of the house, the wildlife on the house’s property, and the lack of logic concerning each of these situations diminish the story’s intended validity and argument.

The first major inconsistency of the house told of in the short story involves the technological security defenses the house has in place. Early on, the house is described as carefully inquiring the wildlife (i.e. wandering cats and foxes), “Who goes there? What’s the password?” to decide if it should allow entry into its premises and due to the obvious lack of response, the house, “had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old-maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia” (Bradbury). The description even extends to, “If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up… not even a bird must touch the house” (Bradbury). These descriptions articulately describe the houses security responses to situations such as possible intruders through the front door and windows and demonstrate how the house cannot differentiate a threat from a non-threat. In an analytical article on the short story ‘There Will Come Soft Rains” further insight is provided on the house’s intended character, “The house is modeled after concept homes that showed society’s expectations of technological advancement” (Mambrol). These descriptions of the house make it seem as though nothing could overcome the safeguards set in place. It makes readers understand that because of the intense protocols over the smallest of dangers the house still stands strong amidst a world of destruction and lifelessness. However, easily and without warning, “a falling tree brough crashed through the kitchen window” (Bradbury). The descriptions of the house during the story’s build-up and the event of a tree crashing through a kitchen window imply to the audience two completely different messages.

The first proving itself an explanation as to why out of all the surrounding houses the one being highlighted survived, and the latter showing just how fragile and ready-to-fall-apart the house really was after the event of destruction. This event forced readers to believe that this high technology house can recognize and stand against the smallest of threats but can do nothing to warn or protect from a falling branch. Are readers expected to believe that this house is strong and self-sustaining and protecting or that it is simply held together with figurative popsicle sticks waiting to literally be set ablaze by the right chain of events? This major contradiction distracts from Bradbury’s argument and warning against nuclear warfare. It also prompts readers to read the rest of the short story with the perception that it is an unrealistic story and has invalid themes and messages. Because the event of the tree branch falling through the window plays a pivotal role in the sequence of the short story, this major contradiction cannot be ignored, thus confusing all attentive readers and loving validity and strength in the story.

The second major inconsistency with the home’s technology is the mystery behind the man with the lawnmower. On the outside of the house there is a group of silhouettes that depict a family taking part in normal and perhaps stereotypical suburban household activities. Two children, a young boy and girl passing a ball to each other, a woman (presumably the mother) stooping down to pick some flowers, and a man mowing the lawn (Bradbury). This description is intended to invoke a feeling of sadness or regret because these silhouettes show a seemingly perfect family whose life and existence abruptly ended because of a tragic decision that caused complete destruction of life, the decision to drop a nuclear bomb. However, upon further thought on the activities of the family, a discrepancy can be found. For a house that was depicted as being state-of-the-art and the head of household technology, have the people in the story not found an alternative way to maintain a lawn? The house had the technology and efficiency to clean up and remove without a trace of a dog that as described to have, “frothed at the mouth…spun in a frenzy, and died” on the parlor floor and was cleaned up by electronic mice in fifteen minutes (Bradbury). Even with this amazing cleaning and maintaining technology, the man was still having to mow the lawn, and to not stray from the stereotypical suburban family life, the lawn mower was perhaps even a push mower something seemingly more primitive. This realization can again distract readers from the intended feelings of the images, leaving readers wondering why the man is mowing the lawn.

Again, these distractions take away from the validity and feeling of the short story. Another distracting aspect of the man mowing his lawn is not only Bradbury’s convenient use of advanced technology in the story but also the lack thereof. Even the very action of the man mowing his lawn seems confusing. In an article, Robert Dominianni describes a hypothetical situation to a mature group of individuals, he wrote, “…suppose we were to receive news that an atomic bomb will land within five or ten minutes—one that cannot be destroyed in mid-air and which would be too potent to escape from in the given time. Write your instantaneous reaction would be to such news. What would you do in these final minutes of life?” (Dominianni). Dominianni reports their varying responses, some turn to manifestations of religious beliefs and religious actions, intense expressions of emotional distress or meltdowns, spend time with their loved ones, and “others plan to calmly indulge in favorite delights”. Each of these are natural reactions to such an unnatural situation, however none of these top reactions hinted that doing yardwork or participating in an activity that would never enjoy a satisfying ending or a completion of a project. Therefore, it is absurd to have the man mowing his lawn. Personally, this detail was extremely confusing as to what message was trying to be conveyed.

The fact that the family was outdoors implies that despite all of the technological advancements and improvements made to the house, they had no faith in the house’s true ability to protect them from real dangers. Rather than staying inside to protect themselves in their own home trusting in the roof and walls for shelter, they went outdoors to meet an end directly with no chance of survival. It is understandable to include an example of an innocent family meeting a bitter end to support the argument against nuclear warfare; however, there are too many illogical scenarios surrounding the silhouetted family and their actions that rather than supporting the argument, it diminishes the validity and strength of the purpose of the short story. Though these pieces of evidence are more than enough to completely invalidate the entire premise of the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains”, there is one more piece of evidence that harms the argument Bradbury is trying to make and that lies within the kitchen of this vacant home.

After an extended period of vacancy, the house is still able to produce copious amounts of food for the deceased homeowners without logical replenishment. In an article written in regard to the American Intellectuals on nuclear weaponry, Paul Boyer references the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” and how the house functions regardless of its vacancy. He writes, “In Ray Bradbury’s famous ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’, an automated house continues to prepare meals, draw baths, mix drinks, clean floors, and recite poetry for occupants long since vaporized in a nuclear flash” (Boyer). Though there is no specific time frame provided in the short story the dog that was mentioned previously brings time frame implications. The dog once belonged to the home and was recognized upon its return because the house permitted entry to the dog. However, the dog’s physical state was far less than healthy, described as, “…once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores” (Bradbury). For the dog to go from a strong and healthy pet to an animal that more closely resembles a lurking shadow is not an overnight process but something that could take weeks, even months.

Given this information, it can also be inferred that the house has remained empty for that amount of time; despite this, the house still prepares everything with a seemingly endless supply. Even at the end of the short story when the house begins to malfunction and become engulfed in flames the kitchen prepares as written, “ten dozen eggs, six loaves of toast, [and] twenty dozen bacon strips” (Bradbury). Are the readers supposed to assume that this lone-standing house has a year supply of food preserved and stored perfectly within its walls? Though it is an amusing detail of the way that the house begins to malfunction, this event is illogical and decreases the believability and validity of the story once again.

It is without a doubt that Ray Bradbury is as Kent Forrester says, “[with an] imagination [that] is inventive and vivid… creat[ing] the outlandish”, most especially with the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains”. But there are several extreme inconsistencies within the story with the house’s technology and the house’s surroundings (specifically the silhouettes) that unfortunately caused an erosion of the validity and support of the purpose of the short story. Because the house’s security system and the flaws within it have illogical components the readers can be, and are, easily distracted thus making this short story seem absurd. As readers continue to approach Bradbury’s short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” it is important for them to recognize and understand that there are major inconsistencies that greatly weaken the intended message and argument so they might better understand what mistakes to avoid in their writings and further analyses of other literary works. Recognizing and expounding on these discrepancies trains readers to approach more works critically.

Works Cited

Boyer, Paul. “American Intellectuals and Nuclear Weapons.” Revue Française d’études Américaines, no. 29, 1986, pp. 291–307. JSTOR, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Dominianni, Robert. “Ray Bradbury’s 2026: A Year with Current Value.” The English Journal, vol. 73, no. 7, 1984, pp. 49–51. JSTOR,

Forrester, Kent. “The Dangers of Being Earnest: Ray Bradbury and The Martian Chronicles.” The Journal of General Education, vol. 28, no. 1, 1976, pp. 50–54. JSTOR, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Mambrol, Nasrullah. “Analysis of Ray Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains.” Literary Theory and Criticism (2022). 28 November 2022. <>


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Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition Copyright © 2021 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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