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
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.
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.
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.
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.