Essay on the setting of Ray Bradburry's short stories

Essay by rippefect November 2004

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In Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains", "The Veldt" and "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" the reader is introduced to three distinct settings. In these three short stories, Bradbury paints a vivid picture of the future through the setting and also establishes and utterly normal atmosphere. In some stories the setting serves as a mere backdrop for the action, a place were the characters speak and move. In others, the setting forces characters to act spontaneously and unpredictably.

"There will come soft rains" is a depressing story about a house. This house is totally controlled by computer; it cooks meals, reads poetry, landscapes, etc... The strange element the reader notices immediately is that no one lives in this house. It is inferred that the family was wiped out in a massive war but the house doesn't realize this and it keeps talking and moving as if the family was still there.

"Outside, the garage chimed and lifted its door to reveal the waiting car. After a long wait the door swung down again."

The one inhabitant of the house is a dog. The dog is slowly dying but since the task of feeding it is not programmed it continues to starve. How ironic the house doesn't comprehend that the dog is starving and it continues to pump out pancakes for an empty kitchen.

Even though the house is always working it seems vacant and dark. Bradbury achieves this by placing daily family chores against the emptiness of the house. "Bridge tables sprouted from patio walls. Playing cards fluttered onto pads in a shower of pips. Martinis manifested on an oaken bench with egg salad sandwiches. Music played. But the tables were silent and the cards untouched. At four o'clock the tables folded...