There Will Come Soft Rains

The House Character Analysis

The house—an artificially intelligent, automated machine—is the main character of the story. Despite being inhuman, it has a complex personality. The house’s character traits are embodied by the different machines inside it (some of which feature so prominently that they can be considered characters in their own right, such as the clock, the robot mice, and the voice reading poetry). At first the house demonstrates more docile features of its personality. It seems affectionate, since it misses the family. It also appears to be industrious when it goes through the motions of getting everyone ready. From the description of how the house shoos away animals, the reader even gets the sense that the house is prudish. When the dog appears, the reader sees a new, darker side of the house. It handles the dog brusquely and seems more concerned with cleaning the mud it tracks in than with tending to the dog’s needs. When the dog dies, the house callously sweeps its remains into an incinerator. From the way voices direct the family’s every step, the reader begins to suspect that the house has some kind of obsession with control and order. When a tree branch finally falls on the house, causing a fire, the house frantically tries to ward it off, throwing all of its systems into overdrive to fight the fire to no avail. The house demonstrates so many of the worst traits that technology brings out in people, becoming a moral warning against blindly following the next new tech craze. Its death at the hands of nature is meant to remind the reader that nature is permanent, while technology is temporary.

The House Quotes in There Will Come Soft Rains

The There Will Come Soft Rains quotes below are all either spoken by The House or refer to The House. 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:
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of There Will Come Soft Rains published in 1977.
There Will Come Soft Rains Quotes

In the living room the voice-clock sang, Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o’clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. The morning house lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, breakfast time, seven-nine!

Related Characters: Clock (speaker), The House, The McClellan Family
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
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The five spots of paint—the man, the woman, the children, the ball—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.

Related Characters: The House, The McClellan Family
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The front door recognized the dog voice and opened. The dog, once huge and fleshy, but now gone to bone and covered with sores, moved in and through the house, tracking mud. Behind it whirred angry mice, angry at having to pick up mud, angry at inconvenience.

Related Characters: The House, The Dog, Robot Mice
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

There was the sound like a great matted yellow hive of bees within a dark bellows, the lazy bumble of a purring lion. And there was the patter of okapi feet and the murmur of a fresh jungle rain, like other hoofs, falling upon the summer-starched grass.

Related Characters: The House
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 224-225
Explanation and Analysis:
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At ten o’clock the house began to die. The wind blew. A falling tree bough crashed through the kitchen window. Cleaning solvent, bottled, shattered over the stove. The room was ablaze in an instant!

Related Characters: The House, Fire
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there. An explosion! The attic brain which directed the pumps was shattered into bronze shrapnel on the beams.

Related Characters: The House, Fire
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing from the heat, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air.

Related Characters: The House, Fire
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
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In the last instant under the fire avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announcing the time, playing music, cutting the lawn by remote-control mower, or setting an umbrella frantically out and in the slamming and opening front door, a thousand things happening, like a clock shop when each clock strikes the hour insanely before or after the other, a scene of maniac confusion, yet unity; singing, screaming, a few last cleaning mice darting bravely out to carry the horrid ashes away! And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, read poetry aloud in the fiery study, until all the film spools burned, until all the wires withered and the circuits cracked.

Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the wall, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam: “Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”

Related Characters: Clock (speaker), The House
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The House Character Timeline in There Will Come Soft Rains

The timeline below shows where the character The House appears in There Will Come Soft Rains. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
There Will Come Soft Rains
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...anniversary, and that certain bills are due. This information is stored on memory tapes in the house ’s walls. (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The house cleans up breakfast, scraping the uneaten food into a “metal throat” garbage disposal that flushes... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The sun comes out at 10:00. The house is the only building left standing amidst “rubble and ashes,” and the city emits a... (full context)
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
At 10:15, the sprinklers turn on. The water runs down the west side of the house , whose white paint is completely charred except in “five places”: the silhouettes of a... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
Until today, the house has asked, “What’s the password?” to every fox or cat that passed its door and... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
At noon, a dog whines at the front door. The house door recognizes the dog and allows it inside. The dog was “once huge and fleshy,... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
The dog runs up the stairs “hysterically yelping” until it realizes, “as the house realized,” that no one is home. The dog treks back to the kitchen and paws... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
At 2:35, the house spreads out bridge tables on the patio. Playing cards, martinis, and egg-salad sandwiches materialize as... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...move “like magic tricks” and a hearth fire starts in the study. Opposite the fire, the house lights a cigar that is “smoking, waiting.” At 9:00, hidden machinery warms the beds because... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The house begins to “die” at 10:00. The wind knocks a tree branch through a kitchen window.... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The house attempts “to save itself” by shutting its doors and containing the fire. The robot mice... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...the sight of a dead snake.” But the fire is “clever.” It has wrapped around the house and ignites the tank in the “attic brain” filled with the green chemical. The “attic... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The fire delves deeper into the house . It “felt the clothes” in the closets. The pain of the house increases. It... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
The many voices of the house continue to cry out until the fire consumes them one by one. One plays music,... (full context)