Last updated on July 20th, 2022 at 08:23 am
Bradbury quickly establishes the extreme setting he will use as a backdrop for the nonetheless relatable drama in the story. The overwhelming rain on Venus has created a harsh, inhospitable environment, suggesting a sense of displacement from the natural world on Earth. Meanwhile, the anticipated arrival of the sun has generated a slightly chaotic sense of excitement among the children. Their anticipation has an edge of anxiety to it, foreshadowing the conflict and disappointment of the day to come.
All children on Venus long intensely for the sun, but Margot is isolated by her vivid memories. Somewhat intentionally, it seems, she holds herself apart, demonstrating the extent to which she is fixated by these memories. This also highlights her privilege—she has memories that the other children lack and covet—and sets up the jealousy that will drive the other children’s bullying.
Here we see that anticipation for the sun has made the children anxious and chaotic. The extent to which they have built up this day has made it impossible for them to enjoy the moment without also fearing what will happen if it doesn’t meet expectations. We also see that life away from the sun seems to have had a physically draining effect on Margot. Deprivation from the sun has made her a shadow of her former self—almost physically less than human—while it has also made the other children seemingly less civil. The sun has power to make humans both physically and mentally stronger, while its lack has the opposite effect.
All Summer in a Day: Themes
The sun has an immediately pleasurable effect, seeming to physically revive the children. The long-anticipated moment is better than they could possibly have imagined—but, because of the teacher’s warning, we know that this brief moment of happiness will be fleeting. The sunlight has revealed the massive jungle outside to be full of tumultuous, fleshy grey weeds, overgrown and bleached by the rain. In this strange environment, the children run and play among the trees, shouting and laughing. They stare up at the sun and the world around, attempting to savor everything.
All Summer in a Day: Character Sketch
In the classroom, William pushes Margot again. Then, he tells her the sun won’t actually come out—it was all a joke. The other children join in, laughing and saying the sun won’t come out. Margot protests weakly. In this scene of bullying, William and the other children torment Margot by introducing a threat to the thing she cares about most. The thought that the long-anticipated day won’t come to pass is extremely difficult to bear, showing how intense this anticipation is.
At William’s urging, all the children surge around Margot and push her into a closet in the hallway as she pleads and cries. As Margot throws herself against the locked door, the children smile at each other and return to their classroom just as their teacher reappears. Perhaps because of the intensity of the setting, the scene of teasing quickly escalates to violent bullying. In a mob, the children exact their revenge on Margot’s perceived privilege, depriving her of the very thing of which they feel deprived—time in the sun. The specific nature of this bullying shows just how much the children are motivated by their sense of jealousy and longing. Glancing at her watch, the teacher makes sure everyone is ready and accounted for. She does not notice that Margot isn’t there. The children crowd around the classroom door as the rain slows and then finally stops. Outside, it is shockingly quiet and still. The children wonder at this as the door slides open.
As the big moment arrives, the children feel overwhelmed that all their waiting and anticipation has culminated in a moment that seems to surpass their expectations. The sudden stillness and quiet emphasizes how violent and intolerable Venus’ usual weather is. The experience of nature brings a sudden sense of peace. Finally, the sun comes out, turning the sky bright blue and sending the children bursting out into the sunlight. Their teacher warns them not to go too far, since they only have two hours, but the children are already peeling off their jackets to feel the sun. They remark that it is far better than sunlamps.
Conclusion: All Summer in a Day
The author does not reveal to us the consequences of the last event and the tenuous atmosphere of the story comes to an anxious open ending. The children, like Margot, are now armed with a powerful memory of happiness which will likely make it far more difficult for them to enjoy everyday life and endure the long wait for another such day. Meanwhile, Margot has experienced the shattering disappointment of expectations for a day that had become all-important in her mind, demonstrating the danger of relying on such fleeting moments. A day that should have brought joy to all has instead brought a powerful sense of loss.
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