There Will Come Soft Rains: Summary & Analysis

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

This lesson summarizes Ray Bradbury's short story 'There Will Come Soft Rains.' In addition, the lesson discusses possible interpretations of this story of a world without human beings.


A voice sings a wake-up call to the inhabitants of the house as the story begins. There's just one problem with this scenario. All the people who lived in the house have vanished! The voice-clock is completely unaware that the humans are gone, so the voice sings on, calling the family to breakfast. The stove prepares breakfast, yet no one eats it. It is August 4, 2026, according to the voice, which recites the calendar of activities for the day.

Next, the dishes are cleaned and 'tiny robot mice' emerge to vacuum. The sprinklers begin to water the yard, and the water sprays the west side of the house. Like figures on a Grecian urn, silhouettes, frozen in a moment in time, are visible on the west wall. 'The five spots of paint - the man, the woman, the children, the ball - remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.'

Apparently, a nuclear event has occurred, rendering humans extinct. Though the house is devoid of occupants, it completes its daily tasks with mechanical precision. Had nature not intervened, the house likely would have continued performing its rituals indefinitely.

Then nature steps in, and the house catches fire: 'At ten o'clock the house began to die. The wind blew. A failing tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!'

The house reacts to the fire at once. 'Fire!' screamed a voice. Water gushes down from the ceiling as the house tries to fight the blaze, but the house burns anyway. Only one wall remained after the fire, and one voice chirped on, 'Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is...'


In 'There Will Come Soft Rains', Ray Bradbury depicts a world devoid of human beings. Technology has likely played a part in the demise of humans, yet technology is all that remains in the house. This is one example of irony, or the depiction of an event that is contrary to what would be expected. It's also ironic that a natural object, a tree limb, destroys this sophisticated technology as a result of a random event.

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