Ray Bradbury’s Messages in “The Veldt” and “There Will Come Soft Rain”
“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it” informed Ray Bradbury when people asked the reason behind his writing. Bradbury is a known author of writing stories about dystopias which are set within the future and have an unpleasant and dehumanizing society. A dystopia is an illusion of a perfect society controlled through philosophical, bureaucratic, corporate, and/or technological control. In the 1950’s Ray Bradbury wrote two powerful stories, The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, to bring awareness of technology to people.
The Veldt deals with a family of four who struggles to adjust to the advancements of technology and living in their fully automated Happylife Home. The parents, George and Lydia become frightened of the image of their kids visualizing the African Veldt through their nursery so they decide to shut it down. Their children, Peter and Wendy become very upset since the nursery is the only thing they live for, and kill their parents. In the story, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, a technological advanced home attempts to survive the aftermath of a nuclear blast without the family who previously lived there. Oblivious to the fact that there was an atomic bomb that destroyed the remainder of the city, the smart house continues its daily functions of cooking, cleaning, and announcing times and events for the family. Later on in the night, a tree branch falls on the house causing the house to go up in flames. Ray Bradbury uses his stories to warn readers of the negative effects of technology through themes, conflict and symbolism.
Firstly, Ray Bradbury warn readers of the negative effects of technology through themes within the stories, The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. Both stories inform readers that technology destroys people mentally. Within the story, The Veldt, readers learn that technology ends human relationships and causes the destruction of family values. Throughout the story, readers notice the constant struggle between the parents and their children’s relationship from the use of technology. In the beginning, Lydia feels as if she doesn’t belong anymore since she cannot do the motherly roles as efficient as the technologically advanced house can. Likewise, George doesn’t know what to do with his time, so he drinks and smokes more every single day. The main issue readers notice is that the children do not look up to their parents as parental figures since technology is superior compared to them. George called David McClean, a psychologist to examined the nursery to see what was wrong. He addresses the news to George that something is very bad by saying “You’ve let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents”. Wendy and Peter did not have to depend on their parents anymore when the Happylife Home came into their lives. They became obsessed with the nursery and always fixated on the African Veldt. Having this technology to clean, feed, and entertain them meant they no longer needed their parents. The nursery became the parental figure the children looked up to and when George and Lydia wanted to take that away they killed their parents. The technology was so powerful and influential that Lydia and George could not compete with it. Overall, The Veldt uses the theme that technology ends human relationships and causes the destruction of family values.
Likewise, Ray Bradbury warn readers of the negative effects of technology through themes within the story August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. Just like The Veldt, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains teaches readers that technology destroys people mentally. Within the first sentence of the story, readers learn that the house is automated by the robotic voice telling the family to wake up. Later on, it is evident that the house cooks meals, cleans, and reminds the family to pay their bills and of special events. The technology cares to the family’s every need to create the ideal environment. To make the family’s life easier, the house reads out its daily message that says “‘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 payable, as are the water, gas, and light bills. ’” This signifies that simple human abilities have been replaced by technology. The self-sustained house decreases humans mental ability to remember and to complete straightforward everyday tasks. Instead, people get attached to this technology and will always depend on it instructing or doing it for them. The constant repeating of the time and what to do puts people in a dehumanized state. The automated house caters to the families every imaginable need making them rely on it, giving technology control.
Secondly, Ray Bradbury warns readers of the negative effects of technology through conflict within the stories, The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. Readers identify the conflict of man versus technology within The Veldt. In the story, man is destroyed by technology in two ways, Lydia and George are overpowered by the nursery’s technology as well as the children’s humanity are destroyed. It is shown that whoever controls the machine will have the power in the house. When George tried to control the nursery he had no authority so it remained as the Veldt. This is demonstrated when George said, “‘Let’s have Aladdin and his lamp, ’ he snapped. The Veldtland remained; the lions remained. ’Come on, room! I demand Alladin!’ he said. Nothing happened. ” George’s inability to control the nursery’s walls tells readers that the situation he is in is slipping out of his control. The constant battle between George and the nursery shows readers that technology has more power over George and it dominates the household. Not only does the technology overpower George and Lydia throughout the story, but it destroys the children’s humanity as well. It is noted that at the end of the story the children lost all humanity when they had a picnic after they killed their parents. The act of murder did not affect Wendy and is shown when she says “‘A cup of tea?’ asked Wendy in silence. ”
The new generation of savagery, selfishness, and lack of emotion started when children kill their parents. They have no remorse or guilt when their parents died, and it is clear that they have become as emotionless and dishearted as the machinery that controls the nursery. Using the conflict of Man versus Technology shows readers that technology can take control and that it dehumanizes people.
Similarly, Ray Bradbury warn readers of the negative effects of technology through conflict within the story, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. Readers notice the constant battle between technology versus nature throughout the story. Bradbury suggests that nature is more powerful than anything man creates. In August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, the automated house caters to every possible need, making itself the perfect environment for human beings. The automated house relies on the natural world, for its materials and inspiration for its automated features. Yet, the house continues to battle against nature even though it benefits its functionality. It would shut itself off when a fox or cat would come to close, or if a bird brushed up against the house. The defensive acts would come into play when nature would threaten it. For instance, when the fallen tree branch hit the cleaning solvent that shattered over the stove, it caused the house to go up into flames. The house defended itself by describing itself as, “From the attic trap doors, blind robot faces peered down with faucet mouths gushing green chemical. The fire backed off. . . But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there. An explosion! The attic brain which directed the pump was shattered into bronze shrapnel on the beams. ”
As it can be seen, the technology looks weak compared to nature. The use of the word “clever” to describe the fire shows that nature was wiser than technology. Technology is known for its innovated and advanced features, yet when put to the test with nature it fails to dominate. Nature cannot be outdone by technology since it is self-sustaining and has ultimate authority over man’s creations. August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains shows readers that nature will always prevail when a conflict arises with technology.
Finally, Ray Bradbury warn readers of the negative effects of technology through symbolism within the stories, The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. The Happylife Home symbolizes the negative effects of human needs and desires being instantly met through technological advancements. The Happylife Home is an automated house which caters to all the needs and wants of the Hadley family. With this technology, the Hadleys do not have to think or do anything since the house does it for them. Many simple human functions are done by the house. The Happylife Home performs many tasks that make this technology humanlike, such as “This house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them”. This tells us that the house is more human than the humans who live within it. Having these technological features made the family dehumanized and senseless. Peter became familiar to the automated house doing everything for him, so when his father said he was going to shut off the house he said, “‘I don’t want to do anything but look and listen and smell: what else is there to do?’”.
It is important to realize that Peter feels that there is no purpose in his life without the Happylife Home. The excessive use of the Happylife Home and nursery has made Peter only care about looking, listening, and smelling instead of thinking, loving or sharing. This tells readers that he only wants to interact with technology since it gives him satisfaction and not with humans. Further on in the story, readers grasp that the Happylife Home was the initial reason for why the children became dehumanized and the murder of George and Lydia. The Happylife Home symbolizes the negative effects of human needs and desires being instantly met through technological advancements.
Likewise, Ray Bradbury warn readers of the negative effects of technology through symbolism within the story, August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. The house symbolizes that technological advancements made by man will outlive man’s existence. Similar to the Happylife Home in the story The Veldt, the house shown in August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains was designed to meet every need of the family who previously lived there. The house is fully automated, it cooks, cleans, and reminds the family of special events. Even though the family has passed away, the house continues its daily functions and can be shown by, “The house was an altar. . . but the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued. ”. This demonstrates that humans were a god to the house and it needs humans interactions to properly function. Even though there are no humans, the house still runs properly. Therefore the house doesn’t need it’s “god” to survive, yet the family counted on the technology to tend on them. This shows readers that technological advancements will outlive human existence. As it can be seen, Ray Bradbury uses his stories to warn readers of the negative effects of technology through themes, conflict and symbolism.
In both stories The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, the theme informs readers that technology destroys people mentally by ending human relationships and technology replacing simple human abilities. Next, in The Veldt, conflict of man versus technology is used to show Lydia and George being overpowered by the nursery’s technology as well as the children’s humanity being destroyed. In August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, the conflict between technology versus nature is used throughout the story to say nature is more powerful than anything man creates. After, The Veldt used symbolism with the Happylife Home to show the negative effects of human needs and desires being instantly met through technological advancements. The house in August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains symbolizes that technological advancements made by man will outlive man’s existence. While reading The Veldt and August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, readers learn that humans have become reliant on technology.
Humans have taken a toll mentally and physically because people depend on technology too much. Perhaps society is coming closer to the futuristic image that Ray Bradbury predicted in 1950 when he wrote these two stories. Now of days, there are virtual reality game stations, similar to the nursery in The Veldt. As well as eco-friendly smart homes which is similar to the concept of the technologically advanced house in August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains. What will humans look like in another 70 years? Will society become the predictions that Ray Bradbury made?
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