All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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What is the message of "All Summer in a Day"?

The message of "All Summer in a Day" is that bullying stems from jealousy and fear.

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A message of “All Summer in One Day” is that the root causes of bullying are jealousy and fear. Margot’s classmates are jealous of her and uneasy about her insistence of the existence of a strange (to them) object: the sun.

The classmates cannot conceive of the concept of sunlight, having been raised in an environment of perpetual precipitation:

this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

Like all human beings, they have not control over the circumstances of their birth and upbringing. They cannot help being born and raised on Venus by parents seeking a new life away from Earth. In contrast, Margot had the privilege of being born on Earth. Her classmates are especially envious and resentful of her because

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. And they, they had been on Venus all their lives, and they had been only two years old when last the sun came out and had long since forgotten the color and heat of it and the way it really was.

Therefore, Margot possesses specific, tangible memories of the sun and its positive qualities (e.g., warmth, luminosity, and life-giving powers that produce flowers) that her classmates sadly lack. Instead, the only time when they experience fleeting memories of the sun is at night when they are sleeping. Unlike Margot, they cannot even imagine and enjoy the warmth, light, and beauty of the sun when they are awake. Upon waking, they hear only

the tatting drum, the endless shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon the roof, the walk, the gardens, the forests, and their dreams were gone.

The classmates also are jealous of Margot’s implied wealth and love from her parents.

There was talk that her father and mother were taking her back to Earth next year; it seemed vital to her that they do so, though it would mean the loss of thousands of dollars to her family. And so, the children hated her for all these reasons of big and little consequence. They hated her pale snow face, her waiting silence, her thinness, and her possible future.

Margot’s parents prioritize their daughter’s health and well-being over money and convenience. Whether or not the loss of so much money poses a hardship to her family, the fact that her parents are willing to sacrifice money and opportunity to return to Earth for Margot is significant. She has a “possible future” of potentiality and escape, while the classmates are trapped on Venus.

Fear of the unknown is another cause of bullying. The classmates seem unsettled by Margot’s claims of a sun. Even though a teacher compares the sun to something relatable, like a hot lemon, they cannot understand and thus doubt Margot’s authorship of her poem:

I think the sun is a flower,
That blooms for just one hour.

In order to control his fear of the unknown, one classmate denies the existence of it. When Margot insists that the sun will appear, the boy tries to shut her down while haltingly trying to garner support from the other classmates:

“You won’t see nothing! ... Nothing!” he cried. “It was all a joke, wasn’t it?” He turned to the other children. “Nothing’s happening today. Is it?”

They all blinked at him and then, understanding, laughed and shook their heads.

“Nothing, nothing!”

The only way the bully can take any anxiety out on Margot’s claim is to undermine it by turning it into a trick.

“All a joke!” said the boy, and seized her roughly. “Hey, everyone, let’s put her in a closet before the teacher comes!”

The classmates control Margot not only verbally, but also physically by shoving her into a closet. Their source of fear of strangeness—Margot—is extinguished. They no longer have to hear or see her.

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The primary message of Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" is that those who are different are typically ostracized and singled out among their peers.

In the story, Margot is the outcast of her class because she was not born on the rainy planet Venus like her peers and thus remembers how the sun looks and feels. When Margot recalls her experience on Earth and describes the sunlight, the children attempt to silence and ridicule her. Margot is also a timid, unpopular girl who behaves in an aloof manner and does not interact with her classmates in a natural way. Margot's differences isolate her from her peers, and her unique experiences incite their jealously. They envy Margot because she has experienced the sun and will be leaving the depressing planet shortly.

On the only day in seven years that the sun shines on the bleak planet, Margot becomes the class scapegoat as her peers begin to torment her. Influenced by mob mentality, the children direct their envy, rage, and jealousy towards Margot and proceed to lock her in a back closet, where she misses the rare opportunity to see and feel the sunlight. Readers recognize that Margot's differences are the primary reason she is rejected and bullied by her cruel classmates, who refrain from exercising perspective and sympathy.

Through Margot's terrible experience, Bradbury is not only highlighting the cruel nature of children but commenting on the stress and anxiety of being different. He is saying that those who are different are typically ostracized or singled out at some point in their lives.

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"All Summer in a Day" communicates the message or theme that envy leads to cruelty.

In this story, the other children envy Margot because she is the only one of them who remembers seeing the sun. The others came to Venus when they were two, so can't recall even one day of sunlight. She arrived later, so she has vivid memories of the sun, likening it at one point to a copper penny. She is depressed because she misses the sun, and so doesn't join often with the other children's games. They think she is acting superior. They are also envious that her parents might leave Venus early, despite the very high pay for being there, because she is so depressed.

Because the other children envy Margot, they cruelly turn on her and lock her in a closet just as the sun is appearing. It seems they don't mean to leave her there the entire time the sun is out, but they are so excited that they forget her until it is too late.

Bradbury shows how human nature, from an early age, can lead to envy and lack empathy, which in turn can result in cruelty. The message conveyed is to try to be more considerate and thoughtful to people who may be hurting or seem a little different.

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The message, to me, is about how someone who is "different" will always be singled out. Margot is different than the other children -- she's smarter, and more creative, but beyond that, she can actually remember living on Earth. She has memories of the sun, something the other children lack. In a sense, she is more authentically human than the others. This makes the other children jealous, and causes them to act out against her. When Margot is locked in a closet and forgotten about for the short time when the sun comes out, I think we have to consider this as more than simply a prank that has gone too far. The children are, in effect, appropriating (or even stealing) Margot's experience -- now everybody has the same memory of the sun as Margot. It's an attempt to erase what made her special. Kids will be kids, even on Venus.

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