The Long Rain

by

Ray Bradbury

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Sun Dome Symbol Analysis

Sun Dome Symbol Icon

Sun Domes, which are American-made shelters on Venus, symbolize the American government’s ability—and, more pressingly, its inability—to protect and care for its people. The Domes could be simple shelters without any frills that contain only the resources one needs to survive. Instead, the expansive Sun Domes are brimming with luxuries, including fluffy towels, leather-bound books, rich hot chocolate, and an artificial sun. This lavishness seems to indicate how the American government cares deeply for at least some of its citizens on Venus and wants to provide for them.

However, the Sun Domes also emphasize the American government’s shortcomings and its inability to effectively care for all of its people at all times. Although there are over one hundred Sun Domes on the planet, Venus’ single continent is three thousand miles long by three thousand miles wide. With Venus’ size in mind, 126 Sun Domes sounds meager. Illustrating this point, the lieutenant and his comrades search for over a month in the jungle before they even find one Sun Dome, and even then, it’s in shambles. One of the men, probably Simmons, explains that “they tried to push a bill through Congress back on Earth a year ago to provide for a couple dozen more [Sun Domes], but oh no, you know how that is. They’d rather a few men went crazy with the rain.” Simmons points directly to the way that the American government is slow to act and cares little for its individual citizens, and how the Sun Domes symbolize these shortcomings. What’s more, the lack of adequate Sun Domes further suggests that the American government is distinctly out of its depth in its attempt to establish a presence on Venus and serves as a specific critique of the government’s ability to adequately provide for its military personnel. Given that Bradbury was writing in the wake of World War II and at the start of the Cold War, the Domes thus further suggest the limit of American imperialism and interventionism.

Sun Dome Quotes in The Long Rain

The The Long Rain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Sun Dome. 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

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:

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:

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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Sun Dome Symbol Timeline in The Long Rain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sun Dome 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
...how much farther they have to travel to get to a place called the Sun Dome. The lieutenant says that they only have another hour or two until they get there,... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...tells the men they need to get moving if they want to find the Sun Dome. He reaffirms that they’re just an hour away—and admits that he’s still lying, but this... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
Somewhere in the distance is the Sun Dome—a massive yellow house that boasts of warmth, hot meals, and a reprieve from the rain.... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...sees something in the distance, and Simmons runs ahead, hoping desperately that it’s the Sun Dome. The other men rush after him and finally find him in a small clearing. Looming... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...that threw off 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
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...with little motion.” The lieutenant beckons his men southward, remembering that there are two Sun Domes in this direction. The men talk about why there aren’t more Sun Domes, and one... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...he sees something. Sure enough, far in the distance is a sheer yellow glow—a Sun Dome. One of the men commends the lieutenant for leading them there, but the lieutenant attributes... (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
Simmons takes off at a run, heartened by the sight of the Sun Dome. Panting, he dreams aloud of the hot coffee and cinnamon buns waiting for them inside,... (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 buns!” The Sun Dome... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...that the Venusians live in the sea but periodically come out to attack a Sun Dome, because “they know if they ruin the Sun Domes they can ruin us.” One of... (full context)
Government, Politics, and Foreign Affairs Theme Icon
...asks where the bodies of the Earth people are who used to live in this Dome, but Simmons answers that the Venusians must have brought them down to the sea—“I hear... (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... (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 asks what they’re going to do if all the Sun... (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 go any farther—he has to sleep, and hasn’t for four... (full context)
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...quiet, but finally agrees, and the pair continue to make their way to the Sun Dome. (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
After a 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... (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
...few hours. He asks the lieutenant to imagine the feeling of getting to the next Dome and finding it in shambles—“Won’t that be nice?” Unable to sway Simmons, the lieutenant leaves... (full context)
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Determination and Luck Theme Icon
...hill. There, in the distance, is the faint, sheer yellow glow of the next Sun Dome. Swaying unsteadily with exhaustion and hunger, the lieutenant just stands there staring at it. Then,... (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 the table is a steaming pot of... (full context)