The Community of a Robotic House

In the short science fiction story titled “August 2026: There will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury, the author tells a tale of a house that stands alone in a city that experienced a nuclear blast. This house is given life by Bradbury’s interesting choice of words when describing the events that occur inside of it.  For example, the narrator tells us that parts of the house sing, give a hissing sigh and talks. One instance of the house being alive that I found particularly interesting occurred when robot mice sensed a dog was dead and removed it within fifteen minutes. I wonder how many mice the house actually contains because a dog (especially when deceased) requires a tremendous amount of force to lift. Or perhaps since it is the future, the mice can carry a lot more weight than expected.

Adding to the house sounding alive, I find it interesting how the voices reacted to being engulfed in flames. They all acted as normal human beings would: by screaming fire in a frenzy while trying to rescue itself. When one option to save itself failed, it tried another. Then when that failed, it tried again. In this section, the voices are given life when the narrator states, “the voices wailed Fire, fire, run run, like a tragic nursery rhyme, a dozen voices, high, low, like children dying in a forest, alone, alone. And the voices fading as the wires popped their sheathings like hot chestnuts” (Bradbury, 3). The fact that the narrator decides to compare the voices to “children dying in a forest” is very interesting because this description makes us think of the voices as being high pitched and scared (scared being a human quality).

Directly after this portion, The kitchen stove “could be seen making breakfasts at a psychopathic rate, ten dozen eggs, six loaves of toast, twenty dozen bacon strips, which eaten by fire, started the stove working again, hysterically hissing!” (Bradbury, 4).The use of the words psychopathic and hysterical are interesting because they are also human qualities. One does not describe a non-sentient object with these terms. Once again, the narrator shows us that the house reacted very human-like with these words.

Overall, there is a heavy emphasis on community, but not solidarity. The house itself contains hundreds of “voices” that all work together in unison to achieve one goal: to keep itself clean and efficient for their owner. For example, the doors and windows prevent any intruders from entering and the stove and robot animals both serve food. As previously stated, the house even attempts to save itself from certain doom by using the power of all its voices. Regardless of the community that the house has built, there isn’t solidarity. I believe solidarity revolves around sentient beings that all agree to work with each other because of a common interest. While they do have a common interest, the voices do not appear to be sentient. They are clearly working together because they are forced to due to their programming. Therefore, communication is not really encouraged because the bonds that are formed from the voices are superficial at best. However, the narrator describes the house as being very human, so it is an interesting debate to consider.

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