Choice of words

The choice of words in “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury reveals the extensive use of negative words and phrases, such as: “house lay empty”, “empty house”, “hissing sigh”, “radioactive glow”, “charred west side”, “thin charcoaled layer”, “lonely foxes and whining cats”, “huge and fleshy”, “angry mice”. Such words emphasise the idea that nuclear war results in human extinction and lasting irreversible consequences.

There are also some positive words and phrases in the story, like: “golden founts”, “soft morning air”, “rich baked odor”, “yellow giraffes, blue lions, pink antelopes, lilac panthers”, “warm endless sky”.  Their use helps create irony, as they are often used in connection to the house and its behaviour. A piece of machinery, the house is unaware of the recent human extinction and continues to act as if everything is fine, attempting to create a nice environment for humans to live in.

Finally, there are many descriptive words that outline the idea that the house mimics human actions but remains a lifeless machine without reason and emotions: “electric eyes”, “metal throat”, “tiny robot mice”, “pink electric eyes”, “mechanical paranoia”, “miniature steel jaws”, “mechanical rain”, “blind robot faces”. Everything about the house is mechanical, electrical or metal, even though it sometimes acts in a human-like way. This suggests the idea of a form of fake humanity and that machines will never be able to replicate human emotions and reason.

Descriptions are also necessary for readers to understand the story’s environment, which is an imagined one. One example is the idea of moving images and holograms in the children’s nursery. At the time the story was written, such a device might have been hard to imagine, because it did not exist for personal use. 


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