All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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How does the author characterize Margot in "All Summer in a Day"?  

In "All Summer in a Day," the author characterizes Margot as an outsider among the children on Venus. She was born on Earth and is deeply unhappy with her new life, wishing desperately to leave. Homesick and miserable, she is depicted as isolated and withdrawn among the other children and a victim of their bullying.

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In "All Summer in a Day," Margot is depicted as an outsider among the children. Unlike her classmates, who have spent the entirety of their lives on Venus, Margot was born on Earth, where she had lived until only five years earlier. While the other children have spent their entire lives in the context of the near-endless rain that defines life on Venus, Margot has memories of the rainless days she experienced back on Earth. Deeply homesick, she is unhappy with life on Venus and desperately wants to return to Earth.

Because of this dramatically different background, she has severe difficulties interacting with her peers. Consider how Bradbury writes,

They edged away from her, they would not look at her. She felt them go away. And this was because she would play no games with them in the echoing tunnels of the underground city. If they tagged her and ran, she stood blinking after them and did not follow. When the class sang songs about happiness and life and games her lips barely moved. Only when they sang about the sun and the summer did her lips move as she watched the drenched windows.

When reading this passage, you might get the sense that Margot, in her misery and longing for her old life, has become withdrawn, isolated from the other children on Venus. This leaves her vulnerable as she faces their displeasure. (And note just how strong their disapproval is: Bradbury specifically writes that they "hated her.") Indeed, Bradbury's story centers around a cruel act of bullying wherein Margot is locked in a closet while the rest of the children go out to enjoy the brief appearance of the sun. This is an act that the entire class is aware of and complicit in, much to their later shame.

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Margot is characterized as a sensitive, introspective child. She stays apart from the other children and doesn't join in their games in the tunnels of Venus. She is described as fair, washed out, and "very frail." It seems that a part of her is still back on the planet Earth, basking under the sun. It is as if she is in denial about being on this planet—except for the awful moments when reality breaks through, and she screams about taking a shower because she can't bear the thought of more water.

Margot has a way with words and is able to describe the sun to the other children, likening it for example, to a copper penny. This makes her classmates jealous and resentful of her, because they, who came to Mars earlier, can't remember the sun.

Margot is having such a severe negative reaction to being on Mars that her parents are thinking about leaving early, although it means leaving the high earnings behind. Margot recognizes, if only "dimly" that she is different from the other children. They realize it too and make her an outcast.

In sum, Margot is a frail, sensitive child who is an unhappy outsider on Mars, different from the other children, and longing for Earth and the sun.

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Margot is characterized as introverted and lonely.

Margot is always described as being isolated from the other children.  They all are wary of her and jealous of the fact that she came from Earth.  Margot is a timid child.  She does not play games with the others.  She does not even try to be included.

She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.

Margot wants to go back to Earth.  Since she remembers the sun, she wants to be there even more than the other kids.  She is fading away on Venus, with its constant rain.  She does not care what the financial ramifications for her family would be if she went back to Earth. 

Margot seems traumatized by being on Venus, and the other kids do not know what to make of it.

And once, a month ago, she had refused to shower in the school shower rooms, had clutched her hands to her ears and over her head, screaming the water mustn’t touch her head. So after that, dimly, dimly, she sensed it, she was different and they knew her difference and kept away.

Due to instances like this, the kids either ignore Margot or tease her.  The teasing comes to a head when poor Margot gets locked in the closet on the one day the sun finally comes out.  The children are being normal bullies.  However, even they are horrified by their cruelty when they realize that Margot missed the one day that the sun came out.

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