All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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What are some similarities and differences in the plot of the story "All Summer in a Day" and the movie All Summer in a Day?

Two differences in the plots of the story and movie of "All Summer in a Day" concern when the children shut Margot in the closet and the ending. In the story, they shut her up before the rain stops. At the end, the other children open the door, but no further action is revealed. The movie has them confining her after the rain stops and all of the children making peace after they open the door and release Margot.

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To identify some of the similarities and differences in the plot between Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day” and Ed Kaplan’s short film of the same name, consider how Margot is portrayed in the pieces.

In the short story and in the film, Margot is an outsider. Bradbury writes that Margot didn’t participate in the other kids’ songs and games. Kaplan’s film shows Margot’s distance from the children’s activities at the beginning when all of the children are kicking a can outside in the rain except for her.

Like Bradbury’s story, Kaplan’s film grounds Margot’s isolation in her being from Earth. Each work suggests that Margot’s origin is a source of jealously for the other children, which is why they tend to mistreat her.

A key difference between the two plots is how they wrap up. The conclusion of Bradbury’s story could come across as abrupt: the children let Margot out of the closet, and that’s it. Kaplan’s movie provides a less enigmatic ending. In his short film, the children bring Margot flowers. This indicates that Margot has gone from marginalized to accepted. Again, Bradbury’s story doesn’t clarify what happens to Margot.

Margot aside, think about how the visuals in the movie differ from the images in the plot of the story. When the children run outside in the story, the space is described as a “great jungle.” In the movie, the “great jungle” appears to be a flowery field.

Finally, look at the role that the sun plays in the two works. In Kaplan’s film, the children recite scientific facts about the sun and prepare for its arrival with formal sun kits. In Bradbury’s story, the sun appears to play a more abstract role in the plot, since its traits aren’t so precisely defined.

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There are several plot differences in the story and the movie versions of "All Summer in a Day." One significant difference is the point when the other children shut Margot into the closet. In the story, they take this action while it is still raining, as it did not stop when they expected. In the movie, they wait until after the rain stops.

The most important difference is the ending. In the story, the relationship between Margot and the other children remains ambiguous, as the author does not provide a clear resolution. The other children, from whom Margot had felt quite separate, approach and open the door of the closet, where they had previously shut her up. The reader does not learn how any of the characters will react once she is released from confinement. The movie ends with the characters in a harmonious relationship. The other children are shown opening the door and letting Margot out. They all iron out their differences, as the other children give her flowers. She even makes peace with William, the bully.

Other plot differences depend on changes in setting, characterization, and tone. Changing the setting to a flowery meadow from the jungle in the story provides flowers for William to pick and give her. Also, Margot is more solitary in the story, whereas in the movie she has a friend. The film’s detailing of William’s actions at the end also shows a character transformation that is absent from the story.

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If you are talking about the 1982 short film based on the story, there are significant differences. For one thing, Margot in the story is much more isolated. In the film she has a friend with whom she shares her treasures -- her secret cache of flowers and a butterfly from her life on Earth. In the story there is no such cache, nor is there any such friend. In the story, when the rain doesn't stop when they thought it would, the children lock Margot in the closet immediately; in the film, she is locked in the room after the rain stops -- a crucial difference. Of course the Venus in the story is very different from the "Venus" of the film -- in the story, the planet is a rain forest, not a flower-filled meadow. 

But the major change is the ending. In the story, the end comes when the children open the door to let Margot out. Bradbury doesn't say what will happen next. In the film, the end is much more positive and definitive: the children let Margot out; she is heartbroken. The children, one by one, recognizing what they have done, apologize to her by giving her the bouquets they picked while the sun was out. The film ends with William, the chief bully, desperate for foregiveness, giving Margot his flowers. Margot accepts them, and they walk off together into the rain, her arm around him.

The ending of the film totally changes (in my opinion) the tone of Bradbury's story. In the Bradbury world, children are brutal, vicious creatures who somehow are able to operate outside the bounds of adult control (see Wendy and Peter in his story "The Veldt" for another example). The open-endedness of the story actually supports this view. The point is that we readers have no idea what is going to come out of that closet at the end. In the film, however, Margot is made into an impossibly tolerant person, who transforms the children through her ability to suffer and forgive. Based on the comments about the film on IMDB, many people of a certain age remember the film version as "life changing" -- but I much prefer deciding for myself what Margot is going to do next!

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