The Long Rain

by

Ray Bradbury

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Lieutenant Character Analysis

The lieutenant is the leader of the American military men whose rocket crashes on Venus. Two of his comrades are killed in the crash, and an unnamed man in their group dies in the monster’s attack, leaving only the lieutenant, Simmons, and Pickard to fight for survival in the Venusian jungle. Although the lieutenant is the authority figure of the group, he appears to have little understanding of Venus’ landscape, the physiological effects of the rain, or the Venusians’ animosity toward Earth people. He often gives the men directions with false certainty and admits that he’s only pretending to know where they’re going just to keep his men happy. More often than not, the lieutenant learns about Venus through Simmons and heeds to his advice and decisions, suggesting that perhaps Simmons is the one who has lived on Venus for ten years (at the beginning of the story, one of the men in the group tells the lieutenant that he has lived on Venus for a decade, but it’s unclear who says this). Even though he’s not the strongest leader, the lieutenant proves smart and tenacious. He cautions the men to lie flat in the mud to avoid the monster’s attack, for instance—a decision that saves all those who follow his advice. By the end of the story, the lieutenant is the only one who has not died of insanity or suicide, and he is the only one to reach the functioning Sun Dome. He shows more grit and resolve than any of the men, but it’s clear that he’s also just lucky—considering the number of times the men have unknowingly walked in circles, he very well could have ended up back at the destroyed Sun Dome and died of insanity like his companions.

Lieutenant Quotes in The Long Rain

The The Long Rain quotes below are all either spoken by Lieutenant or refer to Lieutenant. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Long Rain published in 1981.
The Long Rain Quotes

The two men sat together in the rain. Behind them sat two other men who were wet and tired and slumped like clay that was melting.

Related Characters: Lieutenant, Simmons, Pickard, Unnamed Man
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

“Who could [sleep]? Who has? When? How many nights have we slept? Thirty nights, thirty days! Who can sleep with rain slamming their head, banging away… I’d give just anything for a hat. Anything at all, just so it wouldn’t hit my head any more.”

Related Characters: Lieutenant, Simmons, Pickard, Unnamed Man
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

“Chinese water cure. Remember the old torture? Rope you against a wall. Drop one drop of water on your head every half hour. You go crazy waiting for the next one. Well, that’s Venus, but on a big scale. We’re not made for water. You can’t sleep, you can’t breathe right, and you’re crazy from just being soggy.”

Related Characters: Lieutenant, Simmons, Pickard, Unnamed Man
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

A yellow house, round and bright as the sun. A house fifteen feet high by one hundred feet in diameter, in which was warmth and quiet and hot food and freedom from rain. And in the center of the Sun Dome, of course, was a sun. A small floating free globe of yellow fire, drifting in a space at the top of the building where you could look at it from where you sat, smoking or reading a book or drinking your hot chocolate crowned with marshmallow dollops. There it would be, the yellow sun, just the size of the Earth sun, and it was warm and continuous, and the rain world of Venus would be forgotten as long as they stayed in that house and idled their time.

Related Characters: Lieutenant, Simmons, Pickard, Unnamed Man
Related Symbols: Sun Dome
Page Number: 80-81
Explanation and Analysis:

They walked over to the body, thinking that perhaps they could still save the man’s life. They couldn’t believe that there wasn’t some way to help the man. It was the natural act of men who have not accepted death until they have touched it and turned it over and made plans to bury it or leave it there for the jungle to bury in an hour of quick growth.

Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

The Sun Dome was empty and dark. There was no synthetic yellow sun floating in a high gaseous whisper at the center of the blue ceiling. There was no food waiting. It was cold as a vault. And through a thousand holes which had been newly punctured in the ceiling water streamed, the rain fell down, soaking into the thick rugs and the heavy modern furniture and splashing on the glass tables. The jungle was growing up like a moss in the room, on top of the bookcases and the divans. The rain slashed through the holes and fell upon the three men’s faces.

Related Characters: Lieutenant, Simmons, Pickard, The Venusians
Related Symbols: Sun Dome
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

“I remember when I was in school a bully used to sit in back of me and pinch me and pinch me and pinch me every five minutes, all day long. He did that for weeks and months. My arms were sore and black and blue all the time. And I thought I’d go crazy from being pinched. One day I must have gone a little mad from being hurt and hurt, and I turned around and took a metal trisquare I used in mechanical drawing and I almost killed that bastard. […] I kept yelling, ‘Why don’t he leave me alone? Why don’t he leave me alone?’ […] But what do I do now? Who do I hit, who do I tell to lay off, stop bothering me, this damn rain, like the pinching, always on you, that’s all you hear, that’s all you feel!”

Related Characters: Pickard (speaker), Lieutenant, Simmons
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

“Stop it, stop it!” Pickard screamed. He fired off his gun six times at the night sky. In the flashes of powdery illumination they could see armies of raindrops, suspended as in a vast motionless amber, for an instant, hesitating as if shocked by the explosion, fifteen billion droplets, fifteen billion tears, fifteen billion ornaments, jewels standing out against a white velvet viewing board. And then, with the light gone, the drops which had waited to have their pictures taken, which had suspended their downward rush, fell upon them, stinging, in an insect cloud of coldness and pain.

Related Characters: Pickard (speaker), Lieutenant, Simmons
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

He slipped and fell. Lie here, he thought; it’s the wrong one. Lie here. It’s no use. Drink all you want.

But he managed to climb to his feet again and crossed several creeks, and the yellow light grew very bright, and he began to run again, his feet crashing into mirrors and glass, his arms flailing at diamonds and precious stones.

Related Characters: Lieutenant (speaker), Simmons, Pickard, General Mendt
Related Symbols: Sun Dome
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

Behind him the rain whirled at the door. Ahead of him, upon a low table, stood a silver pot of hot chocolate, steaming, and a cup, full, with a marshmallow in it. And beside that, on another tray, stood thick sandwiches of rich chicken meat and fresh-cut tomatoes and green onions. And on a rod just before his eyes was a thick green Turkish towel, and a bin in which to throw wet clothes […] And upon a chair, a fresh change of uniform, waiting for anyone—himself, or any lost one—to make use of it. And farther over, coffee in steaming copper urns, and a phonograph from which music was playing quietly, and books bound in red and brown leather. And near the books a cot, a soft deep cot upon which one might lie, exposed and bare, to drink in the rays of the one great bright thing which dominated the long room.

Related Characters: Lieutenant (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sun Dome
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lieutenant Character Timeline in The Long Rain

The timeline below shows where the character Lieutenant appears in The Long Rain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Long Rain
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
One of the men asks the lieutenant how much farther they have to travel to get to a place called the Sun... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
The lieutenant’s face, which used to be tan, is now pasty white. Even his eyes, hair, and... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
The lieutenant tells the men they need to get moving if they want to find the Sun... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...two of their friends, dead and dripping rain.” The men reach a river, and the lieutenant nods at Simmons knowingly. Simmons procures a small packet, which instantly swells into a large... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
As the men row, the lieutenant laments that he didn’t sleep at all the previous night. One of the men scoffs,... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
The lieutenant watches the men as they row. They’re “white as mushrooms,” just like the rest of... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The men reach the shore and continue their trek through the waterlogged jungle. The lieutenant thinks he sees something in the distance, and Simmons runs ahead, hoping desperately that it’s... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...their compasses. Simmons cries out that they’re no closer to the Sun Dome, but the lieutenant tells him to remain calm—they still have two days’ worth of food. (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The lieutenant instructs his comrades to lie flat in the mud, noticing that the monster “hits the... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Overcome by terror, an unnamed man in the group jumps up, screaming, “No, no!” The lieutenant yells at him to get down, but the man takes off running through the jungle,... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The lieutenant orders the other men (later revealed as Simmons and Pickard) to stay put until the... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
The lieutenant, Simmons, and Pickard continue onward, crossing milky creeks, streams, and rivers. Venus’ single continent, which... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
As the lieutenant, Simmons, and Pickard carry on southward, Simmons suddenly exclaims that he sees something. Sure enough,... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
Simmons, Pickard, and the lieutenant reach the Sun Dome. Simmons flings open the doors, yelling, “Bring on the coffee and... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...ruin the Sun Domes they can ruin us.” One of the other men (either the lieutenant or Pickard) asks how this is possible, since all of the Sun Domes are heavily... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...and says that there’s probably no food left at this Sun Dome. Simmons and the lieutenant exchange a look. The men wander into the kitchen, which is full of furry green... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
Simmons says they should try to make it to the next Sun Dome, but the lieutenant thinks if they just stay put, a rescue mission may come find them. Simmons reminds... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
The lieutenant tells Pickard that they’ll be at the next Sun Dome in just eight hours. Pickard... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Four hours later, the lieutenant, Simmons, and Pickard are halfway to the next Sun Dome. Pickard declares that he can’t... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The lieutenant tries to sleep, but the vines are climbing over his body, and the raindrops won’t... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
Pickard suddenly goes quiet, and the lieutenant turns shines his hand lamp on Pickard’s face. To his horror, he sees that Pickard’s... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
Startled, the lieutenant asks Simmons what he means by drown. Simmons can’t believe that the lieutenant doesn’t know... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
The lieutenant says they can’t just leave Pickard here to drown, so Simmons turns around and swiftly... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...half an hour, Simmons declares that they’ve “miscalculated” the location of the next Dome. The lieutenant affirms that they only have one more hour to go. Simmons asks him to speak... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...doesn’t want to die that way. He has a gun, and as soon as the lieutenant is out of sight, Simmons will kill himself. Reading the lieutenant’s lips, Simmons knows he’s... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
Miserable and alone, the lieutenant tells himself to tough it out for just five more minutes—“Another five minutes and then... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
Trudging through the leafy slush, the lieutenant comes to a small hill. There, in the distance, is the faint, sheer yellow glow... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
The lieutenant reaches the door of the Sun Dome and stumbles inside. He immediately feels paralyzed. On... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
The lieutenant stares at the warm, yellow sun hovering in the “blue sky of the room.” Everything... (full context)