What were the children hoping would happen that day in "All Summer in a Day"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The children were hoping that the sun would come out.

The story takes place on the planet Venus.  It has been raining for a very, very long time. 

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 story takes place in what is probably a third grade classroom.  They are all nine years old, so they were two years old the last time the sun came out (for an hour).  They don’t remember. The children are waiting for the sun to come out.  They desperately want to see the sun come out. 

One of them, Margot, has come from Earth more recently than the other children.  She has seen the sun, and none of the other children have.  Margot is different.  She doesn’t fit in.  She is a frail child, bullied by the other children because she does not play games or sing songs.

And then, of course, the biggest crime of all was that she had come here only five years ago from Earth, and she remembered the sun and the way the sun was and the sky was when she was four in Ohio.

Margot is likely depressed, being in such a desolate place where the sun never comes out.  The other children think she is strange and do not do anything to make her feel welcome.  They ostracize and bully her, but the worst thing they do to her is lock her in the closet on the day the sun finally comes out.  When the teacher asks if they are all there, they are so excited about the sun coming out that they forget about Margot and reply, “Yes!”

Despite their bullying, the children are horrified when they realize what they have done.  They know that it will be seven more years before they see the sun again.  They have a hard time going to face Margot.  They know she is a delicate child, and she will be crushed.  Their relationship with her, already strained, will never be the same.

This story is about what it means to be an outsider, but also about the consequences of a lack of empathy.  The children’s jealousy of Margot overshadows everything else about her.  They are incapable of seeing her as a human being, an object of compassion, or one of their own.  They will have to live with the regret for what they have done for the rest of their lives, and so will she.