All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury
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How does the setting of “All Summer in a Day” shape the story? 

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The setting shapes the narrative in “All in a Summer Day” by emphasizing the claustrophobic world in which characters live on waterlogged Venus. Its inhabitants endure unrelenting rainfall that stops just once every seven years for two hours of sun.

Bradbury traps the characters in a cramped, gloomy world. Confined...

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The setting shapes the narrative in “All in a Summer Day” by emphasizing the claustrophobic world in which characters live on waterlogged Venus. Its inhabitants endure unrelenting rainfall that stops just once every seven years for two hours of sun.

Bradbury traps the characters in a cramped, gloomy world. Confined indoors, the children crowd against each other to look out the window,

pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

Similarly, external vegetation grows wildly due to excessive rain:

the concussion of storms [was] so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again.

Instead of enjoying nature and breathing fresh air, the children can only play in “echoing tunnels of the underground city.” Further emphasizing this oppressive, catacomb-like environment is Bradbury’s description of the classmates overpowering Margot, dragging her

back into a tunnel, a room, a closet, where they slammed and locked the door. They stood looking at the door and saw it tremble from her beating and throwing herself against it. They heard her muffled cries. Then, smiling, they turned and went out and back down the tunnel.

The closet where they hide Margot resembles a subterranean crypt within the grim, labyrinth-like setting. Shut away from open air and the outside, she misses a brief, precious chance to see the sun.

Suddenly, the setting changes to contrast the dismal world of deafening rainfall. First the rain stops.

The world ground to a standstill. The silence was so immense and unbelievable that you felt your ears had been stuffed or you had lost your hearing altogether.

The children are stunned by the quietness before being set free into the temporary sunlight:

The door slid back and the smell of the silent, waiting world came in to them.

The sun came out.

It was the color of flaming bronze and it was very large. And the sky around it was a blazing blue tile color. And the jungle burned with sunlight as the children, released from their spell, rushed out, yelling into the springtime.

Like a rare and precious metal, the sun glistens and overwhelms. The normally gray sky transforms into a brilliant blue like an artistic decoration. Warmth greets the children as they escape to the outdoors where they witness varied colors and feel different textures. Instead of playing in bleak tunnels, they now

ran among the trees, they slipped and fell, they pushed each other, they played hide-and-seek and tag, but most of all they squinted at the sun until the tears ran down their faces; they put their hands up to that yellowness and that amazing blueness and they breathed of the fresh, fresh air and listened and listened to the silence which suspended them in a blessed sea of no sound and no motion. They looked at everything and savored everything.

Yet this paradise quickly ends with rain’s ominous return. The setting turns hostile, paralleling the children’s sadness and despair at losing their short-lived freedom:

The sun faded behind a stir of mist. A wind blew cold around them. They turned and started to walk back toward the underground house, their hands at their sides, their smiles vanishing away.

A boom of thunder startled them and like leaves before a new hurricane, they tumbled upon each other and ran. Lightning struck ten miles away, five miles away, a mile, a half mile. The sky darkened into midnight in a flash.

By the end, the setting returns to its earlier state: somber, endless rain. Now, however, the children know what they are missing. As they return to underground, they

closed the door and heard the gigantic sound of the rain falling in tons and avalanches, everywhere and forever.

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