ENGL 99/101 – 3329
April 18, 2018 11:59pm
Updated Draft for Friday April 20th Workshop
The use of technology to create nuclear weapons is completely unnecessary and inhuman. It causes destruction and devastation to mankind and nature. On the 6th of August 1945, the Americans dropped a bomb unlike any other, and it fell from the skies above Hiroshima, Japan. It was the atomic bomb, the first weapon of mass destruction ever produced. People are powerless when something as devastating as a nuclear weapon is being used to attack their civilization. It is an extremely inhuman invention that man has ever created. The entire city of Hiroshima was annihilated in just a few seconds and the force of the explosion was estimated to be the equivalent of 67 million sticks of dynamite. The bomb put the second World War to an end, and although no one has used a nuclear weapon since, arguments continue as to the morality of dropping the bomb. “Was it really necessary? Could it have been avoided?”
In his short story “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950), a writer who prides himself in creating literary works of fantasy and horror Ray Bradbury claims that our own technological advancement will outlive us and the reckless use of technology to build nuclear weapons is not only destructive to our planet, but to our humanity as well. Technology is serving more than its purpose and that we should embrace technology and not become it. Nature will always triumph, prevail, and reclaim all things in the end. Bradbury supports his argument by using the structure of the short story to highlight a house that cooks and obsessively cleans entirely by itself. He specifically shows how the house has removed human interaction by describing daily chores that the house executes in a religious, heartless, and emotionless way despite the lack of inhabitants. While he continually uses descriptive language and anthropomorphizes the house to further emphasize and demonstrate his point, he also resorts to the use of the work of another writer, Sara Teasdale’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”, to warn against mankind’s use of apocalyptic weapons. Nature triumphs over the house by a falling tree bough which crashes through the kitchen window and knocks cleaning solvent over the stove which causes a fire. He was very tongue-in-cheek about how the house brought its own demise by obsessively cleaning things of nature from the home. Bradbury’s purpose is to scare readers with scenes of a post-nuclear fallout in order that they can examine that if mankind continues down their current path where technology evolves faster than our humanity, we will eventually be obsolete, and that nature will always prevail and reclaim all things over humanity and its inventions. Humanity has an urge to automate almost everything and that we should embrace technology and not become it. We should not invent things that has existential risks to humanity. Just because we can invent it, the real question is, should we? The author writes in a jaded tone which quickly transitions to a tragic tone for readers who would be interested in reading post-apocalyptic and tragic stories involving the use of highly sophisticated technology.
Ray Bradbury’s short story, “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950), tells a story about a house that performs routine tasks and daily chores completely by itself. The setting of the story begins in a post-apocalyptic city in Allendale, California on August 2026. In the city, there stands a single house amongst rubble and ash.
The house is equipped with a voice-clock which reminds the residents of birthdays, anniversaries, due bills, and the agenda for the day. (Par. 3) The house is fully automated with robot mice that obsessively cleans anything of nature from the home (Par. 9), and mechanical arms that prepares breakfast (Par. 2) and cleans the dishes (Par. 7) for a family of four who has met their fate by the thermal flash of a manmade nuclear weapon (Par. 12).
The technology of the home has been designed to meet all the needs of the family who once resided in the home, and essentially rendered man completely unnecessary inside his own house. Bradbury anthropomorphizes and personifies the house by the use of very descriptive literature to create the illusion that the house is alive and well without the need of human input. While the family relied on the house to care for them, the house did not need the family to survive.
Although the house was programmed to operate human-like tasks, it is incapable to possess human-like emotions. Bradbury describes this by illustrating a scene of the family dog which has become thin, hungry, and sick with radiation poisoning that the house recognized and admitted into the home, which died by starvation soon after entering the home (Par. 18-27). The robot mice, being very inconvenienced of having to clean up the corpse of the dog, disposes of the dog in an inhumane way and burning the corpse in an incinerator (Par. 19-20). This symbolic use of the dog illustrates how our own inventions cannot help us in the end. In addition, he personifies the incinerator comparing it to Baal, a false God created by humans. Anyone who worships false Gods will be condemned to Hell, according to the Bible. Bradbury is implying that the inhabitants of the home were extremely reliant on technology in the home, therefore, they met their demise by a nuclear bomb that was technologically created by man.
The house meets its demise by a house fire. Bradbury was very tongue-in-cheek about how cleanliness-obsessed the house was with anything that was a part of nature (Par. 20). A tree bough crashes through the kitchen window which knocks cleaning solvent over the kitchen stove and causes a fire (Par. 46). In addition to Bradbury personifying the house, he also used descriptive literature to personify the fire (Par. 51-58). As if it were war between the entities of nature and human inventions. Ironically, the single house that was able to survive a nuclear blast created by man, was ultimately defeated by something as natural as Mother Nature.
The voice clock in the house sets the tone of the story and although there are no people in the story, the story is being told in the house’s point of view. Ray Bradbury’s use of personification on inanimate objects is to increase the reader’s interest, establish mood, and build imagery in the text. He does this to help the literature feel livelier, like many aspects of our everyday lives.
Ray Bradbury wrote this piece of creative literature during the Cold War in 1950. The voice clock in the story begins the day on August 4th. Interestingly, which is a couple of days before August 6th, which was also the day that the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. Although, the citizens throughout the world was still recovering from the events of World War II, it was still fresh in the minds and there was fear of devastating effects that remained. This fear was typical during the Cold War era.
In this essay of “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury, I believe Ray Bradbury is trying to make a statement about the devastating effects that the technology of nuclear warfare has on humanity and on nature. I believe he does this by implementing nuclear themes into his stories to make a statement in a creative way to catch reader’s attention. The purpose of this essay is to encourage readers to find the deeper meaning and understanding of a creative literature regarding historical events that changed the world forever. When I first read Bradbury’s short-story, it was just a story to me. I did not understand the real meaning of the story, or what statement the author was trying to make. Later, as I understood the meaning and the author’s claim, the story became extremely interesting to me. I write my essay in a very informal and heartfelt tone, because I feel some sort of connection to the bombing of Hiroshima and the effects of World War II. My ancestors and I, are local people of the islands in the Pacific that was involved in the war between two nations. To this day, World War II has left devastating memories in the minds of my ancestors, my people, my islands, and my culture.