All Summer in a Day is a short story by Ray Bradbury that deals with themes of hope, longing, loss, bullying, cruelty and the very notion of humanity. It is written in a third-person point of view and has a classroom in planet Venus as its setting. The story follows the events of a single day on Venus, the day on which the sun finally shines after seven years of incessant rain. Besides being a futuristic science fiction, All Summer in a Day is also a study on the nature of ethics and morality as it spontaneously emerges in a group setting. It may also be viewed as a study on social psychology among children which grapples with the concepts of motivation, envy, exclusion and punishment.
All Summer in a Day | Summary
The story begins mid-conversation among a group of children in a classroom in planet Venus. The children are getting ready for some event that is about to take place. They are excitedly talking among themselves about a prediction by the scientists. They crowd together, waiting for the sun to shine. Yet, the rain continues.
It had been raining incessantly for seven years, heavy rain that destroyed forests and caused tidal waves that engulfed islands. The children are on Venus, and the planet was covered in forests that keep growing back even as the rain crushed them. They had reached Venus as they were children of the astronauts from Earth who were looking for a new place to live.
The children exclaim that the rain is gradually coming to a halt, and we are now introduced to Margot. We see the children through the eyes of Margot, who stands apart from them. The children could not remember anything but the rain, as they had all left the Earth when they were just two years old. Margot knew that some of them could visualize the warmth, the color, or the heat of the sun while dreaming. But when they wake up, all they see is rain, and the memory fades away.
Earlier, they had read about the sun and wrote essays and poems about it:
“I think the sun is a flower, that blooms for just one hour. That was Margot’s poem, read in a quiet voice.”
Now that the rain begins abating, and all the children press themselves against the window. Margot stands away from them. She’s thin, pale and looks like a person in a faded photograph.
There is an altercation between Margot and William, after which the children move further away from her. She feels it’s her own doing because she doesn’t play with them and doesn’t participate in their games.
When the class sings together, she wouldn’t sing, unless it was about the sun and the summer. She feels that the biggest difference between her and the others was that she had left Earth at the age of four, and remembers everything about the sun. The others had only ever known Venus, but she had not forgotten the beauty of the sun.
The children do not trust her. They do not believe her descriptions of the sun and insist that she is a liar. She senses that she’s different after she refuses to allow water to fall on her head once in the school shower rooms. The children recognize her difference and keep away. She hopes that her parents would take her back to earth, and she felt that this was a necessity, though it would be very expensive. So, the children hate her for all of these reasons. They hate her for being different.
“ “Get away!” The boy gave her another push. “What’re you waiting for?”
Then, for the first time, she turned and looked at him. And what she was waiting for was in her eyes.”
Impulsively, the boy exclaims that all this must have just been a joke, and nothing really would happen, and all the children follow. Only Margot, stands apart, expressing that it’s a prediction of the scientists. The boy insists it’s a joke and decides to lock her away in a closet.
They force her into a closet, lock the door and watch as the closet shakes as she tries to escape. They smile, and go back to the schoolroom, just as the teacher arrives.
The rain stops. The sudden silence is compared to a malfunctioning movie sound system, as though all the loud noises were abruptly cut off, and all that remained was a sense of calm. The silence is almost like a physical presence.
And then, the sun comes up. It is a huge, and blazing bronze. The sky around it becomes bright blue. The forests that covered Venus burn with sunlight, and the children rush out, overjoyed. They bask in the heat of the sun, enjoying the feeling of the heat on their skin, exclaiming that it’s much better than the sun lamps they were used to. They play in the jungle and never stop looking up at the sun until their eyes hurt from how bright it was.
Suddenly, a girl cries out. A single raindrop had fallen on her hand, and this meant their time in the sun was over. The sun fades away, and all the children sadly walk back to the schoolroom. They shut the door on the loud rain and thunder and realized it’ll be another seven years before the sun returns.
And then, they remember Margot, still locked away in the closet. They freeze, knowing that Margot will not see the sun. They cannot look at each other, out of sheer shame. They walk to the closet, the loud rain filling up their ears, the lightning flashing across their faces. Behind the closet door, there is silence. They unlock the door and let Margot out.
All Summer in a Day | Analysis
This story follows the events of a day on Venus. It is set in a foreign land, yet the author reels us in by portraying things that we, as humans, experience. Most of us have had the feeling of not belonging or being bullied and taunted for not being different. The story works through complex human emotion very simply and clearly, through the experiences of children. The main themes are feelings of longing, loss, and a representation of humanity.
The first emotion we are met with is anticipation. Everyone is feverishly looking forward to a new event on the horizon. Margot is portrayed as detached, she stands away from the other children, and exhibits a sort of quiet longing, directly contrasting the excitement of the rest. These children were brought to Venus to live a better life on a new planet. None but one remembers Earth, and the one that does can’t bring herself to let it go. Thus, she is ostracized.
She lives her life knowing she is different because she remembers the sun. All the visuals are explained in a childish manner using crayons, coins, a necklace of rain. The author uses language that we can relate to, whilst describing a world we could never visit.
A common thread is that Margot feels empty without the sun. She participates in class only when they spoke of the sun or the summer and remains silent otherwise. She stands alone, feeling like a fish out of water, in a place she feels she doesn’t belong. Margot being described as drained of colour is a representation of how she feels lifeless on Venus.
The animosity that exists between the children and Margot is presented to us as an outsider in the classroom. This, however, is just a foreshadowing of what is to come. Their hatred is rooted in resentment, as Margot refuses to play with them, or participate in any meaningful manner.
Her biggest crime is the one she had no say in, leaving Earth two years after the rest. They were jealous of her and painted her as a liar. She was made into a pariah. The children’s hatred for her is represented in how quick they were to follow the ringleader, William, and lock Margot away from something she desperately wanted.
Their smiles after locking her away, listening to her muffled cries, after ignoring her pleas and protests, show us that the cruelty of humanity can manifest itself even at such young ages. They feel no remorse and moved on without another thought. They spare no pity for Margot. Children, like adults can be sadistic as well. A glimpse of it may be seen in the different forms of bullying that they engage in.
Soon, the two hours of summer begins. The sun shines brightly, and the children play. The brightness of the world is described in detail, and the children are compared to wild animals running free and enjoying themselves. The children are selfishly carefree. They ripped away Margot’s dream, yet lived it without her.
The wail of the little girl as the rain fell is the beginning of their understanding of Margot. They walked back to the schoolroom, their smiles vanishing. They feel the loss of joy, the feeling of leaving something behind and when they remember Margot, they are ashamed. The cruelty they exercised earlier transforms into shame and remorse. They comprehend how she feels only after living through the same experiences as her. Their humanity emerges as they understand what Margot had left behind, why she acts the way she does, and how they took away the little happiness she could have felt.
Here, the reader empathizes with Margot. The abrupt sentence that brings Margot back to the forefront pulls the reader out of the joy of the sun and back into her mind. The deafening silence described earlier would have made Margot realize that her dream was out of reach. And now, she waits silently in the closet, as the children slowly let her out.
All Summer in a Day I Title of the Story
All Summer in a Day has an apt titles which captures the gist of the entire story. Summer, a season of vacation and playtime, especially among schoolchildren is a season of fun and frolic as can also be seen in the story. However, his ” summer” lasts only for one day in planet Venus. It is one day of happiness after seven years of gloom and dreary weather. This precious time, this time for happiness and fun, which is most eagerly awaited by Margot, is snatched away from her when the children bully her and shut her in the closet. Thus, the title is not only apt but also a poignant one, especially when one considers Margot’s condition in the end of the story.
All Summer In a Day | Characters
Margot – Margot, the main character in All Summer in a Day is a quiet girl who believes in herself and has the courage to stand up for her convictions and face the consequences for it. Although shy and soft spoken, she refuses to give in to what the crowd (her class in this case) thinks of her. She refuses to blend in, and for this, she is punished by people who enjoy the very object whose existence she vehemently professes and which they irrationally rejected. Margot is thus, a visionary, a true leader who stands up for the right thing and suffers for it.
William – William is the quintessential bully and a rabble-rouser who objects to Margot’s views due to his ignorance. What is dangerous about this little kid is that he is adamant in his ignorance. He displays the traits of a false leader who ends up swaying the group of children by appealing to their tribal instincts.
Other Children – The children of the classroom refuse to acknowledge the uniqueness that Margot has and fail to appreciate her difference. They represent the idea of the Group, which forges unity by excluding the Other ( Margot in this case). This group of children has been used by Bradbury to demonstrate the dangers of herd mentality in the adult world.
All Summer in a Day | About the Author
Ray Bradbury is known as a screenwriter and author. His imaginative stories usually involve childhood nostalgia and criticisms of society. Bradbury’s first book was “Dark Carnival”, and some of his other works are “Fahrenheit 451”, and “The Illustrated Man”.
Some of his notable awards are the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation and the Inkpot Award. Bradbury died on 5 June 2012, in Los Angeles, California.