How does Ray Bradbury develop the mood in "All Summer in a Day"?
Ray Bradbury creates a leitmotif that expresses repeatedly the idea of rain with recurring phrases; this repetition generates the major atmospheric effect, or mood, of his story. It is an oppressive mood of grey anxiety and cynicism. Here is an example of the use of leitmotif:
It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands.
The monotony of this ever-present rain that has killed forests and flowers and any vegetation is rather overpowering. The effect of the grey atmosphere and unceasing rain is reflected in the children's behavior, as well. They bully the one girl who has come from Ohio and seen the sun and remembered it. To the other children, she has committed "the biggest crime of all." So, in their envy and cynical doubt of Margot's truth about the sun, the children lock her in a closet, causing Margot great anxiety. Only they get to enjoy the sun's powerful rays and joyous light and warmth.
In her imprisonment, Margot suffers her worst oppression and anxiety as she is denied the vision of a sunny sky, a vision for which she has long been anxious; she has always remembered and yearned for it. She is also prohibited from the added satisfaction of erasing the cynicism that looms over her from other children who are skeptical of her description of the sun. Certainly, too, the behavior of these other children underscores the narrator's tone of cynicism with regard to human nature.
Bradbury uses lyrical language to convey a mood of longing and loss in this story of a Venus where the sun only emerges once every seven years. This mood is reinforced by the personality of the main character, Margot, a sensitive, melancholy little girl whose soul's sadness seems reflected in the ever present rain. The sun in this story becomes the metaphor for all our longings and desires.
Bradbury doesn't just say it rained all the time, but describes the rain: "the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy ... A thousand forests had been crushed." Likewise, Bradbury lingers over descriptions of the sun. It is like "gold" or a "lemon crayon," "flaming bronze" and a "warm iron."
Bradbury repeatedly uses similes and poetic language to describe this sun and this world. Rather than hurtle us forward from event to event in this story, Bradbury encourages us, through his description, to stop and to experience being drenched in what it is like to be on this imaginary Venus. Only two things happen in terms of plot: the sun comes out and Margot, who longs so deeply to see it, is locked away in a closet by the other children. The rest is the longing mood Bradbury evokes.