There Will Come Soft Rains

The Natural World Symbol Analysis

The Natural World Symbol Icon

Throughout the story, natural phenomena and raw materials symbolize nature’s lasting dominance over humankind and technology. A few birds, cats, foxes, and the dog survive the atomic bomb, for example, suggesting that nature can endure even the most destructive technology human beings have at their disposal. Later in the story, a tree branch falls on the house, causing the fire that ultimately destroys the building. Both the tree and the fire are additional representations of nature that prove adept at infiltrating and destroying mankind’s technological creations. The water that runs out while the house tries to extinguish the fire further represents the ultimate reliance of even advanced technology on the resources of natural world; though the house wishes to entirely close itself off from nature—shutting its windows and drawing its shades “in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection”—it nevertheless must rely on nature for sustenance—for the wood for its fires, the water to clean its dishes and sprinkle over its lawn, and the food to prepare for the (now dead) family. Bradbury’s inclusion of Sara Teasdale’s poem solidifies the dominion of nature of man, ending with a line asserting that “Spring herself” would not notice mankind’s absence. Finally, the sun that shines over the smoldering rubble of the house in the last moments of the story symbolizes nature’s definitive victory over mankind’s creations.

The Natural World Quotes in There Will Come Soft Rains

The There Will Come Soft Rains quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Natural World. 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

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:
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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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Related Characters: The Voice Reading Poetry (speaker), The McClellan Family
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 225-226
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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

The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon Picassos and Matisses in the upper halls, like delicacies, baking off the oily flesh, tenderly crisping the canvases into black shavings.

Related Characters: Fire
Related Symbols: The Natural World
Page Number: 227
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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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 Natural World Symbol Timeline in There Will Come Soft Rains

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Natural World 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
...time to leave for school. The clock sings a song to indicate it is raining outside, suggesting that one wear “rubbers, raincoats for today.” The garage then opens, revealing a waiting... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...disposal that flushes “away to the distant sea.” The dirty dishes are submerged in hot water and come out “twinkling dry.” The clock announces 9:15, and a hoard of robot mice... (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... (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 closed up when no reply was given. It closed up... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...the robot mice emerge and buzz around the dog’s body “as softly as blown gray leaves in an electrical wind.” By 2:15, the body is gone. Sparks fly out of the... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...it is revealed that mankind has perished in a world war. The poem concludes, “And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn / Would scarcely know that we were gone.” (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. Cleaning solvent shatters over the stove, and a fire starts instantaneously.... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
...by shutting its doors and containing the fire. The robot mice double as firemen, shooting water from built-in tubes until their personal supply runs out, then they scurry away to refill.... (full context)
Life vs. Technology Theme Icon
Death, Control, and Time Theme Icon
Nature vs. Technology Theme Icon
At dawn, as the sun rises over “heaped rubble and steam,” the clock cries out over the wreckage. It says,... (full context)