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Elijah Tyler

Instructor Grosso

English 112

17/06/18

Rhetorical Analysis: ​There Will Come Soft Rains​ by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s short story ​There Will Come Soft Rains​ focuses on the experiences of a

technologically advanced house in the future. The setting of the story is based in Allendale,

California, year 2026, which is implied to be post-apocalyptic. The home was programmed to do

specific tasks before the onslaught of worldwide destruction. Radiation hangs in the air. The

story begins at seven in the morning on August 4th; the house is tasked with stating the time to

wake up to its homeowners who, unbeknownst to the home, have disappeared days ago. Hour by

hour, a new task is performed. Some are announcements, such as “Nine-fifteen, … time to

clean,” (23) whereas others are specific actions, like cooking breakfast or activating the

sprinklers in the garden. Although the world around it has assumedly crumbled, the house

continues as though nothing has changed, constantly awaiting a new command from its owners.

As the story progresses, the house eventually ​dies ​by suffering a surprise catastrophe in the form

of a fire, like those it once served. However, the inferno leaves behind a single wall with a

mechanical voice which repeats, “Today is August 5, 2026...” (160) showing that the willpower

of technology lives on, though humanity has left it. Technology surpasses mortality. With the

heavy implications that technology resulted in a nuclear event, Bradbury’s message emerges.

The message conveyed through Bradbury’s short story is one of warning and certainty:
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humanity’s reliance upon technology will not only aid in the downfall of man, but outlast it as

well.

Ray Bradbury was an American author known for his work in the genres of fantasy and

horror (Biography.com). His most popular writing is ​Fahrenheit 451,​ which also takes on a

dystopian setting. His writings are sometimes seen as being critical toward the state of society,

which may be applied to ​There Will Come Soft Rains,​ as well. Additionally, the story conveys

criticism against science itself. For this reason, it is assumed that the audience Bradbury intended

to reach was the general public of the technologically-advancing world. His intention for this

short story is to persuade his readers into considering that recklessness paired with technology

poses a potential catastrophe. The story shadows the decline of relationships within mankind,

which obviously resulted in a form of nuclear war. To aid in persuading his viewers, Bradbury

employs three rhetorical appeals: the appeal to emotion (pathos), the appeal to logic (logos), and

the appeal to ethics (ethos). Bradbury uses pathos to his advantage more so than logos and ethos.

Both ethos and logos are implied and left up to the reader to decipher from the text.

Bradbury acknowledges that connecting to the reader via emotionally is a powerful tool.

Despite there being no presence of people, the house proceeds to prepare breakfast as though

there is someone to consume it. The breakfast consists of “eight pieces of perfectly browned

toast, eight eggs sunny side up, sixteen slices of bacon, two coffees, and two cool glasses of

milk.” Although a small detail, it provides a method of connecting to the reader. It says to the

audience: ​someone once lived here, but they are gone now.

Furthermore, Bradbury paints a scene of what was once a happy family, now removed

from existence. The author conveys the scene by describing five silhouettes, all plastered to a
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wall: two adults, two children, and a ball in mid-air. Each figure is actively doing something:

mowing the lawn, picking flowers, playing catch. This means that whatever caused humanity’s

disappearance was so instantaneous that it did not cause any distraction to its victims.

Bradbury enlists irony as a tool to further persuade the audience of his message. The title

is the same as that of a poem written by Sara Teasdale. The message proposed by Teasdale’s

poem is that nature will live on without the presence of man. In fact, nature will not even realize

that mankind has disappeared. The poem, which uses harmonic language to produce a peaceful

tone, is included within the story and starkly contrasts the gruesome scenes depicted by

Bradbury. The poem states, “Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if mankind perished

utterly,” (102-3). Bradbury makes a point to disprove this idea by providing a graphic visual of a

dog, tattered and heavy with sores, bones pressing tightly to its skin, sick with sadness and fear at

the loss of those who once cared for it. The dog runs frantically through the home, calling for its

loved ones, pleading for any sense of comfort. Alas, the dog receives nothing and proceeds to

fall dead in the floor of the parlor. With radiation permeating the atmosphere, any chance for

survival is decimated. Indirectly, Bradbury tells the reader: ​see? Look what humanity has done.

We destroyed ourselves and left behind a suffering, dying world.

Bradbury does not explicitly display an appeal to logic nor ethics in the same way that he

appeals to human emotion. Instead, they take place behind the scenes and hide within the

proposed message. For example, through the descriptions of the house and its tasks, it is implied

that ordinary jobs were taken over by machines to a certain extent. The reader is left to analyze

whether or not it is ethical for a house to be given the duty of cooking or cleaning, as opposed to

people. Bradbury pushes the reader to consider the ethics behind human capability and its
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relationship with technology. The only direct appeal to logos is the observed advancement of

technology that led up to the nuclear event.

In the short story, Ray Bradbury feeds humanity’s fear of robots and technology, which

consists of the thought that, one day, they will reign over mankind. Although the message that

advanced technology has the ability to pose a threat to humanity remains clear, it is safe to

acknowledge that the fault behind the possible threat belongs to mankind itself. In the current

reality, the advancement of technology has enabled the invention of nuclear weapons, such as the

atomic bomb. The text expands on the idea that recklessness paired with technological

development has the potential to cause harm. Bradbury proposes a scenario where technology

demolishes human existence, thus supporting the message through his own assumptions.

Through the use of rhetorical devices, Bradbury can effectively persuade his readers into

believing, or at least considering his point of view. Emotions are pliable and easily pulled, which

the writer takes advantage of. He conflates fear and possibility of worldwide devastation to aid

his goal. To his readers, Bradbury is perceived as someone who is connected to reality and

understands there are repercussions to recklessness, specifically with technological advancement.

By connecting the reader to sensitive subjects like death to elicit despair, empathy, or concern, he

creates a great potential to become successful in his persuasion. Bradbury urges his readers to

consider the prospect that, in an ever-advancing world, humans’ obsession with advancement

will prove disastrous.

Works Cited

“Ray Bradbury.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 10 Nov. 2017,

www.biography.com/.amp/people/ray-bradbury-9223240​.
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Bradbury, Ray, and Sirelion. There Will Come Soft Rains. Santillana USA Publishing Company,

Inc., 2009.