Ray Bradbury's “There Will Come Soft Rains” is a science fiction short story set in Allendale, California, in the year 2026. It's unusual in that it has no human characters.
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This article starts with a summary, and then looks at themes and some questions to consider.
Summary of “There Will Come Soft Rains”
The living-room clock announces that it's seven o'clock and time to get up. The house is empty.
At nine minutes after seven, the kitchen prepares breakfast and announces it's ready. The voice also states the date and some household reminders. There are mechanical sounds from inside the walls.
At one minute after eight, the voice says it's time for work and school. There's no activity in the house. It's raining outside.
The garage door opens for the car and closes after a long interval.
At eight-thirty the kitchen clears the table and cleans the dishes. At nine-fifteen tiny robot mice clean the whole house.
At ten-o'clock the sun comes out. This house is the only one standing in the city. Everything is destroyed. At night there's a radioactive glow.
At ten-fifteen the garden sprinklers come on. The west wall of the house is black except for five silhouettes—a man, a woman, and a boy and girl with a ball in the air between them.
Until today the house had kept its inhabitants protected. It didn't allow any outside intrusions.
At noon the front door opens to a familiar dog. The formerly large animal is now thin, sick and whining. It tracks in mud and other debris that the house promptly disposes of.
The dog runs upstairs and yelps at the doors. It comes back down, froths at the mouth, flails around wildly and dies in the parlor. At two-fifteen the mice have gotten rid of the dog's body.
At two-thirty-five the patio sets up for a game of cards and snacks. At four it puts everything away.
At four-thirty the nursery fills with images and sounds. The bath fills at five. From six to eight the house produces dinner, a fire and a cigar.
At nine the beds warm, and at five minutes after, a voice asks which poem Mrs. McClellan would like to hear. When it gets no answer, it randomly selects one by Sara Teasdale.