All Summer in a Day by Ray Douglas Bradbury
The Story-line / Plot Summary:
In ‘All summer in a day’, a group of school children live on planet Venus with their families, or in the author’s words, a group of rocket men and women who has gone to Venus to set up civilization. The children, mostly around 9 years old, are waiting eagerly for a special occasion; for the sun to come out. It has been raining continuously 7 years in Venus. And now the scientists of Venus have predicted that the sun will come out for a short period of time on that particular day, after that it’s 7 more years of continuous rain. You can imagine how overwhelmed and excited the kids must be feeling.
The sun had been out before once when the kids were just two years old so they don’t remember anything except a warmth like a blush on the face and something similar to a study lamp’s light. In other words, they literally don’t remember anything about it. But this is true for all the children except Margot, who’s resented by all the children. Margot, a thin & pale girl, used to live in Ohio (Earth) until she was five hence she still remembers the details and misses the sun badly. She’s always quite depressed for the same reason.
Margot was most excited to see the sun once again, to feel its warmth. She was standing near the window, waiting for the sun when a few boys taunt her saying it was all a joke and the sun’s never coming out while some others lock her in a cupboard when the teacher wasn’t present there.
The teachers returns and along with the children, they go to the tunnel’s exit. The rain finally stops and the sun comes out in all its glory. The kids run out into the lawn and enjoy the warmth of the sun but no one remembers Margot. After some time a kid screams as a big raindrop falls on her skin. They all look up at the sky and see that it’s raining again. They stand there for a moment, disappointed but at the same time happy with the experience, and return back to their classroom.
As they enter the hallway, one of the students reminds that they have forgotten to unlock Margot. They all feel bad for what they have done and anxiously they go to unlock her. Behind the doors, no noise was to be heard, they slowly open the door and Margot emerges. The story ends at this point.
All Summer in a Day: A Commentary:
‘All summer in a day’ by Ray Bradbury is based on the struggle of Margot, a sad soul stuck on a place she doesn’t want to be.
Since it’s set up in a different planet altogether, the author quickly explains the complications and restrictions of the new world. He has also used a variety of metaphors to make the foreign situation familiar and easy for us. His simple words and clear descriptions portray a vivid image in your head upon reading.
The characters or the children, except Margot, are portrayed at first in a negative light when they try to mess around with Margot but it was due to their resentment towards her, which is quite natural. But in the end they realize their mistake and also realize how painful it must have been for her to abandon the warmth of the sun and live on the Venus.
The way the author has described the kids’ imaginations of the sun is really cute. But the best part, I think, is Margot’s character. Literally everyone can relate to her; stuck in somewhere you don’t want to be, bullied and taunted every day for no reason; no one seems to understand your pain, struggling to fit into the new place.
The background may sound a bit extreme at first but the author has done everything he could to make the reader feel familiar. The emotions of the characters; sadness, resentment, struggle, happiness, bliss – everything is portrayed in a very nice way without making the setting look unusual or weird.
In the end, the kids who had previously resented Margot learned what it must have cost her to come and live on Venus, abandoning all the warmth and sunshine. Hence, they feel guilty of what they had previously done with Margot. The story thus explores the darker side of human nature that is manifest even in children, and ends it on a note of hope as the children feel shame and remorse for their thoughtlessness.
The title of the story is very interesting. It literally refers to the day when the sun comes out after seven long years. This is like the whole summer to the people living on Venus. But, on a metaphorical level, this is the day when the children have, for the first time, shown the good human side of their character and felt for Margot who has come from Earth. They will probably not taunt her any more. They realize the sadness and depression Margot must be in. So, it is summer not only in the atmosphere but also in their mind, making the title “All Summer in a Day” just and apt.
All in all, the author has been successful in setting up his imaginary world and the aura around it.