Contemplating the End in Shaving and There Will Come Soft Rains

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Contemplating the End in Shaving and There Will Come Soft Rains

What happens at the end? "Shaving" and "There Will Come Soft Rains" both address that issue, the first referring to the end of a man's life, the second to the end of humanity. Both ends come about through illness, whether that of a dying man or of a society that drives itself to suicide. The microcosm, the macrocosm- both show in their own way that man is mortal, that this too shall pass. The authors seem to have irreconcilable messages about humanity, which are in fact merely two faces of the same coin.

"There Will Come Soft Rains" says that, yes, we can build magnificent machines: beautiful houses to cater to our every need, a thousand servants at our beck and
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If not by nuclear war, than humanity could perish in dozens of other manners: pollution could choke our food supply or kill the plants that produce our oxygen, or we could use up all our resources and be left with billions of people and the infrastructure to support less than one thousandth of that number, or we could destroy our atmosphere and let natural radiation kill us. A madman or a terrorist might engineer a virus to kill all homo sapiens, or one might be loosed on accident by a well-meaning brilliant fool. And how impossible really is a nuclear holocaust? It is not just the large superpowers that are building up arsenals now, but every little country with delsions of grandeur; the more nukes around, the more chance that someone will use one. The most colossal insult to man's pride in our "New World Order", in our interpretation of relative calm as true peace, in our belief in the farce of being on the verge of true and lasting security, is that the end could come by an accident: a careless mistake, a deadly misunderstanding, a fatal lack of communication, a failure to act when the ability to prevent a calamitous disaster would be within our grasp. In our arrogance we do not see the thin tightrope that we walk, and so we continue blithely with our everyday affairs, building our lives of luxury and our castles in the air. Until one day our mistakes cause everything our race has ever