The Symbolism of a House in There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradburry

In Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,” the personification of the house, the uses of medical and psychoanalytic discourses, and ritualistic constructions in the text, revolving around religious discourse frame the house and nature as opposing forces. Through the language of the text, the house is diagnosed as a machine with two sides: the caring, domestic, automated home and the whirring, incinerating, cold-eyed machine. Nature spites the house for continuing its empty and pointless rituals without humans inhabiting the home, privileging nature as ideologically superior.

This relationship of superiority is indicated by psychological tags which distinguish the forces of nature in the story (the fire etc) and the house’s near artificial intelligence. Inside the text, words like “angry mice” and “maniac confusion” diagnose the house along ideological precepts which favor nature as “clever“ or with “flaming ease” because the text is shifted toward this dichotomy of malfunction between dynamism.

Without human life, the house is “quiet” and “empty” as the text repeats several times throughout the house’s repetition of empty rituals is reflected by this repetition of words that imply lack of substance or hollowness.

The text implies that the house, a construction that revolves around human precepts and rituals, has no place in nature, that is, without humans. This could be read as vestiges of the humanist ideology taking a new form in the scheme of naturalist ideology. The personification of the house in different ways characterizes it as an unloving machine with many human qualities.

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However, this subconscious routinely programmed al is beginning to deteriorate by the forces of nature, which are at first gradual and then sudden. Protecting against natural forces of deterioration, it has an “old-maidenly preoccupation ” with guarding from birds and debris tracked in by the dog.

The little mice which serve the house’s hygienic preferences have “electric eyes,” implying an almost humanoid character but are later described with “steel jaws,” underscoring the exterior niceties with sinister mechanisms. Each item which uses a human body part for aid in describing the house gives away the humanistic nature of the house’s characterization by the text. Unlike the house, the fire which attacks it after the bough breaks the window is “clever” and works to destroy the house’s many empty human items with “flaming ease,” nature is quick and vengeful here, with “angry sparks” spreading the flames. Moreover, the fire somehow goes directly for the house‘s “attic brain,” while “blind robot faces” attempt to stop the flames with “mechanical rain”. Not only does the house have a “brain” and “blind“,faces” but even its rain is “mechanicalt” each natural referential object is supplemented by mechanical imagery.

Nature is supposed to deteriorate the house since it has no humans in it therefore, nature’s victory is pre-determined by the naturalist ideology. Working up to the house’s demise, the language of description used for the house is both physically humanoid and psychologically unstable. The pointless ringing of the alarm clock sounds “afraid” of no humans rising from the beds, other denotations of instability or aggravation include the “angry mice” which pick up after the dog, which provides nothing but “inconvenience”. Alongside the house’s personification as “old-maidenly” it is also diagnosed with some sort of “mechanical paranoia,” a very human issue. These very human problems are projected onto the house by the text itself and this is in turn projected onto the reader. Once the fires start the kitchen becomes “psychopathic,” and the clocks sing in a choir of “maniac confusion”.

Under pressure, as in the flames of nature like the house, humans usually resort to psychopathy or mania or “sublime disregard for the situation,” like the one poetic voice amidst the “tragic nursery rhyme” of the house’s malfunctions. The entire system breaks down from the elements since nature was the rigged victor without the humans, “only silence was [t]here,” in the house , the text places emphasis on certain diction by repetition of descriptions such as “quiet,” and “empty“. In spite of the quiet, the house continues its ceaseless operations, each announcement of time breaking the silence. These two elements of sound imagery pronounce the absence of human life and what it means to the house’s functions. Without human life, the house is barren and cold; there is no meaning to the continuance of empty cycles like “off to school,” “time to clean,“ or “the children‘s hour”.

The text puts it poetically that “the gods had gone away” from the “altar” of their home but “the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly,” religious discourses are very apt for characterizing this relationship as a farce, a heresy against nature. By dooming the house as useless, when its primacy is for the utility of its domestic service, the text‘s religious language is condemning the house to foreshadow destruction. By describing the house as senseless and useless, the language links the house’s futile attempts at staying off nature with the “blind” robots which attempted in vain to save the house as “[t]he house tried to save itself,”. The text and nature are speaking from the same location, creating a bias around what nature’s goals are.

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The Symbolism of a House in There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradburry. (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from

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