Ray Bradbury’s “The Long Rain” follows four American military men as they struggle to survive after their rocket crashes on Venus, killing two of their comrades on impact. Venus is smothered by a constant, torrential rain that leeches vitality—and sanity—from the men stuck beneath it. In a desperate effort to survive, the men spend a month searching determinedly for one of many American-made shelters on Venus called Sun Domes, where they will finally be able to eat, sleep, dry off, and get warm. However, as the story unfolds, and three of the four men die, Bradbury warns that tenacity isn’t necessarily rewarded by default. Although the lone survivor, the lieutenant, shows extraordinary determination that outweighs that of his dead comrades, true success—in this case, survival by means of finding the Sun Dome—depends on a combination of perseverance and luck.
Bradbury cautions that, though determination is required for success, it doesn’t guarantee it. After enduring the rain for thirty days in search of a Sun Dome, the men are “wet and tired and slumped like clay that was melting.” Still, they press on. When they finally see something in the clearing, they dejectedly realize that they’ve somehow circled back to their crashed rocket ship, and that a nearby electrical storm must have toyed with their compasses. After enduring another miserable day, they finally come across the Sun Dome, and it seems as if their efforts are finally being rewarded. When he reaches the door of the Sun Dome, Simmons yells excitedly, “Bring on the coffee and [cinnamon] buns!” However, when the men thrust open the doors, they’re met with shock and crushing disappointment: the Sun Dome is abandoned, and water rushes through thousands of “newly punctured” holes in the ceiling. Once again, the men’s determination does not necessarily ensure their success. Unluckily, they’ve stumbled across the one Sun Dome (out of 126) that the Venusians have just destroyed in their first attack in five years.
Though the men clearly cannot always control the world around them, they can set themselves up for the best chance for success. The lieutenant, the only man in his group who survives, is more persistent and tenacious than his comrades, which certainly works in his favor. Even though by the end of the story he’s on the brink of insanity and has lost all five of his companions (two from the rocket crash, one from the monster, one from insanity, and one from suicide), the lieutenant repeats to himself that he will press on for five more minutes before committing suicide: “Another five minutes and then I’ll walk into the sea and keep walking.” His determination to continue leads to a stroke of luck when he quickly notices a Sun Dome in the distance. As he frantically runs toward it, he slips and falls, and his inner voice tells him to quit: “Lie here, he thought; it’s the wrong [Sun Dome]. Lie here. It’s no use.” Yet, in another moment of extraordinary perseverance, he finds the will to get back on his feet and keep running toward the Sun Dome. This Dome does indeed turn out to be a functioning one, and the lieutenant’s incredible persistence is rewarded with plush Turkish towels, steaming hot chocolate, dry clothes, and a fluffy bed.
The lieutenant’s refusal to give up is partially what propels him to safety, but given the number of times the men’s determination proved fruitless in the story—when they accidentally circled back to their rocket, or when they came across a newly-destroyed Sun Dome—the lieutenant could easily have failed. Indeed, through the fallen unnamed man, Pickard, and Simmons, Bradbury paints a dark but realistic picture of how one can be incredibly determined but still come up short. Thus, even as Bradbury encourages his readers to persevere, “The Long Rain” resists the clean, easy takeaway that such perseverance guarantees anything at all. Instead, the story ultimately suggests that while human beings aren’t necessarily the masters of their fate, personal will remains an invaluable virtue: determination may not guarantee success and survival, but, without it, they are nearly impossible.
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Determination and Luck Quotes in The Long Rain
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.