All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury
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In "All Summer in a Day," what is the connotation of the words "surged," "bore," and "protesting"?

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Connotation refers to the implied meaning of a word which conjures a feeling or idea that is in addition to the word's literal meaning. In Bradbury's short story "All Summer in a Day ," Margot is severely bullied by her hostile classmates who gang up on her and lock...

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Connotation refers to the implied meaning of a word which conjures a feeling or idea that is in addition to the word's literal meaning. In Bradbury's short story "All Summer in a Day," Margot is severely bullied by her hostile classmates who gang up on her and lock her inside a classroom closet moments before the sun makes an extremely rare appearance. As the children begin to surround Margot and force her into a closet, Bradbury writes:

They surged about her, caught her up and bore her, protesting, and then pleading, and then crying, back into a tunnel, a room, a closet, where they slammed and locked the door (3).

The word "surged" has a connotation which implies that the children invade Margot's personal space in an overwhelming, powerful manner. The word "surge" conjures the image of a tidal wave, which corresponds to the way the children rapidly collapse around Margot.

The word "bore" implies forcefully moving oneself through a wall of people, which corresponds to the determined collective group of children advancing towards Margot. The word "protesting" implies that Margot is desperately pleading for her life.

Overall, the words "surged," "bored," and "protesting" carry the connotation of a powerful, unstoppable force conquering Margot, who objects to her peers' harsh, unforgiving treatment.

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The word "surged" is connotatively suggestive of something incredibly forceful and overpowering. Flood waters surge, electricity surges; things that are out of our control and even dangerous surge. Thus, when the children are said to "surge" about Margot, the word choice indicates both their power and her relative powerlessness to resist them. It also suggests that their own actions are out of their control—they are like something nonhuman, something elemental—and their cruelty comes from a really profound and fundamental place.

Then, the narrator tells us that they "bore her, protesting" to a closet, and they locked her in it, a result of their sheer cruelty. Again, "bore" suggests Margot's inability to resist the force presented by the other children: the word has a negative connotation for this reason. Furthermore, her "protesting" suggests her powerlessness as well: all she can do is speak her resistance because she is physically unable to fight back.

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They surged about her, caught her up and bore her, protesting, and then pleading, and then crying, back into a tunnel, a room, a closet, where they slammed and locked the door.

In this passage from "All Summer in a Day," Margot, a weak but thoughtful child, is cruelly bullied by her classmates. This is not the first time they have treated her this way, but it is the worst. The words "surged," "bore," and "protesting" all have the connotation that what is happening to Margot is against her will. The idea of "surged" implies that many children moved together at once in a force that was irresistible. Like the oncoming tide, or a flood, they overwhelmed her, and she was powerless against them. 

"Bore" means that they moved her under their volition, not hers. One thinks of athletes being carried on high by many hands after scoring a big win for the team, but that is the irony here. She is not liked by the others, and they are displaying their power over her, not their approval of her. 

"Protesting" indicates that she seeks to rebel against their actions toward her. Just as the American colonists protested against the overbearing, unjust actions of England by throwing tea into Boston Harbor, so Margot tries to protest the unfair treatment she is receiving at the hands of her oppressive classmates. Unfortunately, she is only one among many, and the cruel children do not heed her protests.

The words used in this sentence point out Margot's lack of power and the unfair, unjust treatment she receives at the hands of her classmates.

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