With all our technological advancements, it’s a thing of wonder how we as a species are able to survive and maintain our existence in this world for so long. Most species that walked the earth died out long ago, and yet we strive to live on in our own mortal lives and through the continuation of the human race through our accomplishments, such as with technology and science. But like with every beginning, there will eventually be an end and so too will the story of the human race end. Nature will reclaim the earth after our leave and eliminate all of the evidence of our existence, even with parameters of longevity we place into our technology.
In A:TWCSR (August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains), human civilization ends at our own hands; we caused the “end of the world”:
“The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down. The five spots of paint—the man, the woman, the children, the ball— remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.” (p.1)
What you see here is the aftermath of nuclear annihilation; the house is charred to a crisp in a moment that captured a family enjoying their day. This is particularly reminiscent of Hiroshima/Nagasaki’s “bomb shadows” that left imprints of people onto various architecture when nuclear bombs were dropped on the city; these “shadows” are permanently etched into walls of buildings, which captured moments of what people were doing the instant the warheads were dropped. The actual date of when nuclear annihilation occurred in A:TWCSR is left for debate, but you are able to grasp the idea that the way things ended were sudden and unexpected; the residence of this house were enjoying their day together before the whole world ended, not in a panic to try and escape from some foreseeable event.
And although the human race ended, the remnants of what we brought to the earth remained and are doing the best they can to maintain stability afterwards:
“It quivered at each sound, the house did. If a sparrow brushed a window, the shade snapped up. The bird, startled, flew off! No, not even a bird must touch the house! The house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.” (p.2)
The “gods” in this example are humans and technology acts reverently to their masters. By trying to maintain homeostasis, the house defies nature’s attempts at reclaiming the house back to the earth. The “senseless” and “useless” ritual that the house does is just a programmed schedule that it follows tirelessly without knowing the circumstance the world is in now. The scope of understanding that the house/technology has is limited to it’s time-oriented protocols, rather than understanding that the world is over and it’s tasks are not needed by anyone since there is no one left to service.
The various ways nature gets personified through the short story illustrates how nature is a force that eventually supersedes everything. There were many ways that nature was personified (like with the wildlife trying to enter the house in the previous quote), but one of the most outright examples was how the “fire” moved throughout the house:
“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.” (p.4)
The fire, including in this quote, shows signs of “sentience” as it’s able to know how to sabotage the house’s infrastructure. This fire was a result of a tree branch breaking a window in the house and spreading solvent onto the flame of a stove; the tree branch being a representation of nature in this metaphor. The extension of this tree branch turned into a flame that is “clever” enough to compromise the security of the house, despite the houses’ efforts to try to avoid nature prior. And as a result of this fire, the house eventually concedes to nature, being reduced to one mere wall.
So what you can take away from this short story is that nothing is forever, no matter how much you try to immortalize yourself with your creations. “The end” is indeterminable how it will be caused, but the aftermath of this end will be played out the same. In the end, nature will reclaim everything and reduce the earth back to it’s natural state. Whether this happens in the next 500 years or…maybe even tomorrow…man will eventually return back to nature one way or another.