Eternal Power of Nature

Eternal Power of Nature


Humans are so amazing. Nowadays, it takes less than one second to send an email from Korea to the United States, and now people have more direct access to different communities who share different cultures and history. On the other side, people who didn’t even understand how to make a fire less than ten thousand years ago, now have the ability to destroy the whole continent, using only a few kilograms of metal. While their knowledge is rapidly increasing, technological development brings with it huge drawback which people either do not understand or ignore. In the story “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains”, the author Ray Bradbury describes a potential future we could meet if we continue our unsustainable technological innovation, especially nuclear weaponry. By using an eerie and stolid setting, intertextual reference that magnifies the lasting effect of nature, and an unusual conflict between two non-human things that alerts the reader of human’s self-injurious behaviors, the author tries to tell readers that nature surpasses human development in its power.

Describing a sole house located in the city of Allendale, California, the author emphasizes the inability of human technology using stolid setting. The story takes place in the only house that survived a nuclear blast in Allendale. The house is surrounded by a radioactive glow and few animals outside while there are only machines inside the house. At the beginning, Bradbury says, “At eight-thirty the eggs were shriveled and the toast was like stone.”(p1) Here, readers could make a guess that there is no person in this house but just machines. As robot mice continuously work to clean the house, readers could not understand the purpose of the housework which seems inhumane and careless about people’s existence. Then readers start to recognize the significant quality of life is missing: an empathy. This unemotional attitude of human technology toward human is further intensified by non-existence of family. The author illustrates traces of a family by saying “The five spots of paint – the man, the woman, the children, the ball – remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.”(p2) Through describing these four silhouettes made after the explosion of an atomic bomb, Bradbury conveys a message that human technology is actually disadvantageous and it is the main cause of the destruction of our society. In fact, while it seemed in the beginning that human technology follows the role of nature by providing support, the story shows technology could not actually take over crucial roles of nature: providing a charming place to live and forming entrenched emotions that connect us.

In addition to the unique setting, Bradbury uses intertextual reference by including a poem that has the same title to reveal that nature will maintain its function even in the most desperate situation while technology won’t. Different from other short stories, Bradbury puts the entire poem inside the story. Sara Teasdale’s poem shows the similar situation in which the war annihilated all human beings in the Earth; but in contrast to the short story, the situation in the poem seem optimistic when Teasdale says, “Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if mankind perished utterly.”(p4) In the story where an extinction of people is the main concern of readers, Bradbury intentionally satirizes the imprudent technological development by revealing the fact that nature is actually indifferent towards human extinction. Moreover, Teasdale states, “And frogs in the pools singing at night, And wild plum trees in tremulous white.”(p4) While people disappeared, other components of nature all look the same, highlighting the inferiority of changes that human made to an entire nature. Overall, by using intertextual reference, Bradbury clearly demonstrates that nuclear weaponry is technology that eventually damage people, while an all time high technology for human is just a slight change for nature.

Not only the intertextual reference to the poem but also the persistent conflict between human technology and nature continues to emphasize the superiority of nature. At ten o’clock, the tree bough crashes the window which lands on top of the stove where a fire breaks out. As an automatic response to a fire, the house tries to regulate the size of the fire. The author mentions “The house tried to save itself. Doors sprang tightly shut, but the windows were broken by the heat and the wind blew and sucked upon the fire.”(p4) Through the presence of a broken window which prevents the house from putting out a fire, Bradbury implies the limitation of human technology. Furthermore, it tells that technology can’t control everything, especially the element of nature. The conflict between technology and nature becomes more dramatic when robot mice try to out-strategize fire by gushing green chemical. Despite the effort, the fire becomes even stronger. Bradbury says, “But the fire was clever. It had sent flames outside the house, up through the attic to the pumps there.”(p5) Although it was the last way for technology to defeat a fire, the fire easily circumvents technology’s strategy and overwhelms the house with its power. The author clearly shows the powerlessness of human technology, in contrast to strong nature. All together, through the dramatic conflict between nature and technology, the author clearly points out that nature is superior to technology.

“There Will Come Soft Rains” is a complex story in which all these literary devices are weaved together to emphasize the importance of maintaining the balance of nature and accomplishing the sustainable development of technology. By reading a story, readers could broaden their limited understanding of human society, from consideration of the Earth as their property to the realization of the importance of forming a symbiotic relationship between their interests and their surroundings. In facing increasingly important challenge brought up by rapid human development, Bradbury speaks to readers that nature outlasts human technology.