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Free Study Guide: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES: FREE LITERATURE SUMMARY

August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains

CHARACTERS

The house
An automated building meant to cater to the needs of the long-dead McClellan family.

A dog
A dying animal that wanders into the house.



CONFLICT

Protagonist

The McClellan house, preserving order and routine long after the death of its owners by atomic war.

Antagonist

The forces of entropy and decay.

Climax

After years of following empty routine, a fire destroys the house.

Outcome

A last remnant of the routine remains in the mechanical voice that recounts the date.


THEMES

The routine of everyday life is made strange by the absence of the humans that the house was built to serve. If anything, Bradbury's decision to separate metaphorically the dancer from the dance helps to show how artificial and mechanical life can be, especially in an age where technology dictates so much of what we do and how we do it. If anything, the house stands as a testament to the hubris of technology outstripping the more humane concerns of a culture, and the destruction of the house is a kind of rough justice done to a world that values machines more than people.


Summary

In Allendale, California, the fully automated house of the McClellan family continues as if humans still lived in it. It is the only house in the neighborhood, standing among ruins, the silhouettes of the atomic-flashed family still visible on the west wall. On August 4, 2026, the house proceeds with its usual routine: serving breakfast, then cleaning up afterwards, sprinkling the garden, cleaning. A stray dog sneaks in around noon, but it only wanders around before dying; the robotic cleaning mice quickly clean up its remnants. The childrenís hour takes place at 4:30 PM, at 5 PM a bath is filled, and at 9 PM a poem is read aloud for the benefit of Mrs. McClellan. At 10 PM that night, the house begins to die: a falling tree falls through the kitchen window, starting a stove fire. The fire spreads through the house, setting off explosions. The next morning, all thatís left of the house and its routine is the voice repeating mechanically, "Today is August 5, 2026."

Notes

As noted in "The Watchers", Los Angeles was bombed in the initial throes of the Great War.


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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: Free Summary


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