“There Will Come Soft Rains”: From Poem to Story

In a futuristic world, what part will technology and nature play? Back in the 1950s, during the Cold War, Ray Bradbury published a story about life in 2026. In the story, Bradbury describes a day in a house full of technology but no humans. Bradbury used Sara Teasdale’s poem “There Will Come Soft Rains” in his story and for his title because the poem contains similar themes of nature will always prevail, destruction of humanity, and man (technology) versus nature.

One evident theme that both literary works show is that nature will always prevail. In order to illustrate this theme, the Teasdale writes, “And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn/ Would scarcely know that we were gone” (Teasdale, stanza 6). In this quote, Spring, a symbol of nature, has awoken, but humanity is gone. From the viewpoint that the victors are the last ones standing, it can be inferred that Nature has won, as mankind is gone but nature still remains. To further emphasize that nature will always win, Bradbury describes a fierce battle between nature and technology in which nature wins: “And then, reinforcements…The fire backed off as even an elephant must at the sight of a dead snake. Now there were twenty snakes…killing the fire…But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house…The fire burst the house and let it slam flat down, puffing out skirts of spark and smoke” (Bradbury, pg. 4). Fire is part of nature; here, it is clear that the house represents technology and is fighting against nature. At the end of the battle, the house is destroyed and nature has prevailed. Therefore, based on the evidence above, both the story and the poem contain the same theme of nature will always prevail.

Both Bradbury and Teasdale also convey the same theme of destruction of humanity in their works. For instance, Teasdale writes in her poem, “And not one will know of the war, not one/ Will care at last when it is done./ Not one would mind…If mankind perished utterly” (Teasdale, stanzas 4-5). The quote has stated quite upfront that mankind has been destroyed, presumably because of war. Therefore, it can be implied that the poem contains the theme of destruction of humanity. Similarly, Bradbury also includes the theme of mankind’s destruction in his story: “The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow that could be seen for miles…The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants…But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of religion continued senselessly, uselessly” (Bradbury, pgs. 1-2). Here, it can be inferred that the city was destroyed in a war, possibly with a nuclear weapon. The house is empty, which further supports the fact that mankind is gone, at least from this city. Overall, based on parts of both the story and the poem, both pieces of literature express the theme of destruction of the human race.

Another theme that both compositions demonstrate is man (technology) versus nature. In order to show this situation, Bradbury gives a picture of an intense clash between technology and nature: “The house gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry sparks moved with flaming ease from room to room and the 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” (Bradbury, pg.3). In this quote, readers can see that technology is battling nature in the form of the house fighting the fire. From this, readers can then infer that the theme is technology versus nature. In the poem, however, the theme is not as obvious: “And not one will know of the war, not one/ Will care at last when it is done. / Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, / If mankind perished utterly” (Teasdale, stanzas 4-5). Here, the “one” refers to the birds, frogs, plum tree, et cetera, that symbolizes nature in this poem. It states in the poem that nature will not mind if mankind perished; therefore, nature must not like humanity. If you are friends with another person, you will obviously care about their well-being. On the flip side, if you absolutely detest the other person, whether they live or die is not your problem; you would not care at all. From this view point, it can be assumed that nature does not like humanity, and is therefore against it.

Upon analysis of Bradbury’s story and Teasdale’s poem, we have seen that Bradbury used Teasdale’s poem in his story because both contain the same themes of nature will always prevail, destruction of humanity, and man (technology) versus nature. From battling against each other to not caring about the welfare of another, both literary works show, in their own way, the themes that they use are the same. After reading the story “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains”, readers may understand the warnings and messages about war and technology embedded in the plot. In the near future, how advanced will technology become? How dangerous will weapons used in war become? What will happen to the nature we have grown up with and known as children?

Ray Bradbury Hates Technology: Analyzing “The Pedestrian”

In the year 2016, technology is part of our everyday lives, but in the future technology will become much more advanced and powerful, and not always in a beneficial manner. In the Ray Bradbury short story “The Pedestrian,” it is the year A.D. 2053 and technology is taking over the world. The main character, Mr. Leonard Mead, has a daily routine that includes walking for hours and miles around a quiet town until he returns to his house at midnight. Throughout the narrative, Bradbury shows through symbolism, setting, and dialogue that technology can take away from nature and the beauty of life itself.

The one thing Mr. Leonard Mead would long to do is to walk for hours along the streets of a “deserted” town. The powerful symbolism helps the reader to understand how strongly the author feels about the subject. The first glimpse of human life other than Mr. Mead is that “Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never touching them” (58). The reader learns the author’s point of view when the homes are described as resembling tombs, where people sit motionless just like the dead. It is also implied that the residents living in the houses rarely have contact with other people, other than the people conveyed by television light, which never physically touches them at all. Another example involves how Mr. Mead “put his hand on the door and peered into the back seat, which was a little cell, a little black jail with bars. It smelled of riveted steel. It smelled of harsh antiseptic; it smelled too clean and hard and metallic. There was nothing soft in there” (59). The use of the word “jail” symbolizes the strong connection between technology and the dark, sad life of a prisoner. Using words like “hard,” “antiseptic,” and “metallic,” which do not appeal to the sense of smell or touch, also indicates the disillusioned stance towards technology.

Bradbury’s detailed description of the setting helps the reader visualize the dark and gloomy world bombarded with technology. Through Mr. Leonard Mead’s eyes, we see that, “On his way, he would see the cottages with their dark windows, and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows. Sudden gray phantoms seemed to manifest upon inner room walls where a curtain was still undrawn against the night, or there were whisperings and murmurs where a window in a tomblike building was still open (56). This description of the town helps the reader visualize the eerie and dark setting of the “abandoned” town, although it is inhabited. It also indicates the bustling life inside the eerie houses, in contrast to the empty streets with only whispering and creepy shadows to show signs of any life at all. While Mr. Mead continues his walk, he indicated that “The cement was vanishing under flowers and grass. In ten years of walking by night or day, for thousands of miles, he had never met another person walking, not one in all that time” (57). The cement not being kept up implies the lack of people actually walking and using the sidewalk. The quote also states that for ten years, Mr. Mead has never met another soul walking outside, which leaves the unnecessary sidewalk to disappear under the grass and dirt.

Today, newspapers and magazines are still somewhat popular and are sold in nearly every supermarket, restaurant, and pharmacy. Through dialogue between the police car and Mr. Leonard Mead, the reader obtains information about the future and how technology has drastically changed the world. Through Mr. Mead, the reader learns that he is a writer but “He hadn’t written in years. Magazines and books didn’t sell anymore. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now (58).” The context of the sentence helps imply that the tomblike houses are the television sets. All the information everyone needs to know is broadcasted on the television and there is no need for books, newspapers, or magazines anymore. The reader learns through dialogue between the police car that writing in the year 2053, the police car classifies writing as “Business or profession? I guess you could call me a writer. No profession, said the police car, as if talking to itself” (58). Due to the fact that technology is so widespread, writing is not considered a profession anymore. The police car discounted his profession as if it was not important anymore. Besides the fact that writing is insignificant, the police car finds it odd that Mr. Mead is “Just walking, Mr. Mead Yes. But you haven’t explained for what purpose I explained: for air, and to see, and just to walk” (59). The police car cannot wrap its head around the fact that Mr. Mead walks for air, when there is air conditioning, and that he walks to see, when there is a television that he could view anything he wants without leaving his home.

Bradbury’s short story implies that too much technology can isolate a person from nature and the world. In the end of the story, we learn that Mr. Leonard Mead was taken to a Psychiatric Center for research on Regressive Tendencies by a police car. It is ironic that technology, which is supposed to give someone more freedom and possibilities, took away the one thing Mr. Leonard Mead cherished and looked forward to every day.

The Power of Technology: Comparing “Rocket Summer,” “There Will Come Soft Rains,” and Fahrenheit 451

Imagine if all those fortune tellers and palm readers are right and their “predictions” hold meaning. Think of how much that would change our world today. Everyone would be given an opportunity to change the negative aspects of their futures. Through his writing, Ray Bradbury can be seen as a fortune teller. When reading his stories, the reader gets a sense that Bradbury is issuing a warning about the future and technology. In Rocket Summer, There Will Come Soft Rains, and Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury warns against technology’s effect on the environment, its destructive power and its control over society. Bradbury’s writing forewarns the reader of the consequences that come with the unheeded development of technology.

Bradbury warns the reader of the negative effects technology has on the environment. In Rocket Summer, Bradbury takes a winter scene and changes it to summer in a blink of the eye: “The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land.” (Bradbury 1). Bradbury made the dramatic change from winter to summer to emphasize the rockets effect on the environment. The change in weather warns to not forget about the environment as technology develops, or else the technology will change it completely. The rocket destroyed its surroundings, changed the season, its landscape, and therefore man: “The failure of man to live in harmony with nature is the failure of man.” (Eller 1). By neglecting nature man has forgotten that the earth is essential in providing basic human needs such as food and water. By disregarding these necessities, man fails to provide for themselves and will suffer both the short and long-term consequences of the rocket’s environmental impact. Bradbury creates a drastic environmental change to warn about neglecting the environment. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury takes a different approach to technology’s destructive potential on nature; he ignores nature completely. Bradbury creates a world that is so filled with technology that it distracts not only the reader from nature, but the characters as well: “Bet I know something else you don’t. There’s dew on the grass in the morning. He suddenly couldn’t remember if he had known this or not, and it made him quite irritable.” (Bradbury 50). Montag lives in a world so overwhelmed by technology that he is distracted from nature that is all around him. Bradbury explores the idea of being trapped in a world of overwhelming interference from technology to demonstrate man’s neglect of the environment. Bradbury uses the dramatic change in weather and the disregard of nature to warn against the negative effects technology has on the natural world.

Bradbury uses fire to warn the reader of technology’s destructive power. He includes a great deal of fire imagery because fire – like technology – can easily become out of control. The amount of destruction fire causes in Fahrenheit 451, obviously has some meaning. The fire destroys not only books, but entire houses and people. Throughout the novel, the enabling of fire’s destruction is done by technology: “With the brass nozzle of the flame-gun in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning” (Bradbury 3) The flame-gun enables the firemen to burn books and houses, the salamander (the fire truck) enables them to get to the books. The flame-gun enables Montag to kill the woman and Beatty. Technology is so developed in Fahrenheit 451 that it makes things that normally should be impossible to comprehend (burning an innocent woman alive) easy. Technology essentially lessens the consequences of the crime. Without consequences there is no incentive to stop, leading to continual destruction. In There Will Come Soft Rains, Bradbury further expands on fire and technology’s power to destroy through its inevitable destruction of itself: “Bradbury’s themes are structured around fire and death as though it is necessary to forewarn the coming of an America bent on destroying itself.” (Zipes 11). When fire burns out of control it burns everything around it, and eventually it runs out of things to burn. Without anything to burn the fire dies. In There Will Come Soft Rains, technology does the same. Every aspect of the house is run by technology and there is no need for human control: “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.” (Bradbury 3). It is no surprise that after the house ran out of people to use it, food to make, dishes to clean, and dogs to pick up after, it went up in flames: “Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!” (Bradbury 4). Bradbury warns that technology enables endless destruction due to lack of consequences and it’s inevitable destruction of itself.

Along with fire, Bradbury uses the setting to further emphasize the destructive power of technology. Bradbury sets up Rocket Summer as a “classic” Ohio winter: “One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.” (Bradbury 1). Even though the setting is futuristic, he makes it very easy to visualize. The reader can get such a clear image of winter in Ohio in their mind, making the unexpected change from winter to summer even more startling. This emphasizes the destruction the rocket reeked on the setting when it completely changed the weather. Bradbury does the same thing in There Will Come Soft Rains. However, this time Bradbury uses the setting of a desolate land destroyed by the radiation of an atom bomb: “The sun came out from behind the rain. The house stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one house left standing. At night, the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.” (Bradbury 4) The desolate land itself, emphasizes the destruction of technology, specifically nuclear warfare. The setting – once a thriving city – and the in-depth detail of the now lone house, allows the reader to emotionally connect with the story, making the destruction of the atom bomb more impactful. Bradbury uses setting to emphasize technology’s destruction, warning the reader of its potential.

Bradbury explores the idea of materialism to warn the reader of technology’s control over society. In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses futuristic entertainment to demonstrate technology’s control through materialism. “It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars” (Bradbury 19). Bradbury creates a society that worships technology purely for entertainment. “Bradbury has drawn the sword against materialism, and against society as a producer and consumer equation.” (Kirk 17). Technology’s control lies in consumer spending. The more people spend on technologies they don’t need, the more they begin to rely on it, giving technology control. In There Will Come Soft Rains Bradbury demonstrates technology’s control through a self-sustained house. “In the kitchen, the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and ejected from its warm interior eight pieces of perfectly browned toast, eight eggs sunnyside up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of milk. “Today is August 4, 2026,” said a second voice from the kitchen ceiling, “in the city of Allendale, California.” It repeated the date three times for memory’s sake. “Today is Mr. Featherstone’s birthday. Today is the anniversary of Talita’s marriage. Insurance is payable, as are the water, gas, and light bills.” (Bradbury 2). Bradbury demonstrates technology’s control over mankind through the house doing everything for the people that live in it. By doing everything for the owner, technology controls everything. Bradbury makes the point that people should not give technology control by depending on it to do something as simple and as necessary as making breakfast.

In Rocket Summer, Bradbury exhibits technology’s control through the citizens of Ohio’s reaction to the rocket’s impact on the weather: “The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land. (Bradbury 1). Before the rocket, the people did not need to rely on technology to change the weather, Mother Nature did that for them. However, after the rocket destroyed the environment, the people became more materialistic and had to depend heavily on the rocket. Henceforth, technology gained power and control over the citizens of Ohio. Bradbury warns the reader of materialism and demonstrates technology’s control through entertainment, the self sustained house and the rocket.

To warn the reader of technology’s control through fear, Bradbury uses animal imagery. In Fahrenheit 451, animal imagery is used to demonstrate how technology controls us through the fear of what it might become: “The Mechanical hound slept, but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel.” (Bradbury 64). The fear Montag has for the hound effects his actions throughout the novel. Montag is reluctant to go back to the fire station because he knows the hound will be there. In the end, it is the fear of the hound (technology) that he has to overcome in order to escape from the city. The imagery of the hound is used because dogs can be both depicted as vicious and lovable. Montag is not afraid of the hound; he is afraid of what the hound can do to him. Bradbury demonstrates that it is not our fear of technology that controls us, it is our fear of technology’s potential. In There Will Come Soft Rains, Bradbury uses animal imagery to demonstrate how technology controls us through the fear of living without itL “It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up. The bird, startled, flew off! No, not even a bird must touch the house!” (Bradbury 2). The house protects itself from other animals out of fear that even if a small bird were to touch it, it would break. Bradbury uses the imagery of a small animal to depict the caretaker’s fear of the house breaking. The owner can’t imagine life without their “do everything” house and this makes even a small bird a threat. Bradbury warns against technology’s control through fear with the mechanical hound and the bird, illustrating our fear of technology’s potential and life without it.

Ray Bradbury is a fortune teller; in his writing, he issues a warning to the reader of technology’s potential negative effects, if it keeps developing without restraint. To warn against technology’s negative effect on the environment, Bradbury creates drastic change and neglects nature completely in his writing. To warn against technology’s destructive capability, Bradbury uses fire to exhibit how technology enables endless destruction and will inevitably destroy itself. Bradbury also warns about technology’s destruction using the setting to allow the reader to visualize and emotionally connect to the destruction. Bradbury uses futuristic entertainment, a self sustained house and the rocket to warn about materialism and emphasize technology’s control over society. He also uses the mechanical hound and a small bird to warn about technology’s control over society through fear. In Rocket Summer, There Will Come Soft Rains and Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses a foreboding theme to warn the reader of the consequences that come with too much use of technology.