All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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What is the lesson in Ray Bradbury's "All Summer In A Day"?

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Margot has two strikes against her: first, she is different from the other children, and, second, she has something they don't: she can remember having seen the sun. 

She can describe the sun. For example, she says it looks like a copper penny in the sky. This incites the jealously of the other children. Children like William bully her because they want what she has. 

Margot also differs temperamentally from the other children. She has a sensitive, artistic disposition. She doesn't join the other children in their games in the tunnels. She is depressed about being on Venus and rejects life there. In doing so, she rejects the other children. They, in turn, reject her. 

Another child might have buried her pain and tried harder to fit in, but that is not who Margot is.

The point—or a point—of the story is that groups are cruel to those they perceive as different from themselves. There is a malicious mob mentality lurking in people's souls that makes them want to crush other people's most cherished dreams. That darkness might be worse than the endless rains on Venus and more effective at snuffing out people's inner light than seven years without the sun. 

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There can be more than one lesson to learn from any story in literature. More often than not, people apply the messages from stories to their own lives in different ways and based on personal experiences. (This is where themes come from, too.) Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" is a story that addresses human nature and group mentality. For example, it is human nature to doubt one person's experiences when everyone else in a group has not had that same experience. Margot remembers seeing the sun when she lived on Earth, but children on Venus doubt that she ever saw the sun because they do not have the same experience. Not only do Margot's classmates doubt that she remembers the sun, but William in particular vocally challenges her about it. Either William is jealous that Margot remembers the sun while he doesn't, or he simply doesn't believe that the sun will ever shine. If the second is true, then William's behavior towards Margot might be hostile because he suffers from the strong desire to see the sun, but doubts he ever will. Consequently, William's poor attitude towards Margot infects the other children because they can relate to William more than they can with her. William's disbelief that the sun will shine is expressed in the following:

"'Well, don't' wait around here!' cried the boy savagely. '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?'"

Margot humbly protests that the scientists know that the sun will shine. The other children, however, side with William savagely, as though they turn into a mob set against Margot. Once the other children agree with William, they are then easily manipulated to follow his suggestion to put Margot in the closet. It is sad, but people's minds are easily swayed when they are impassioned.

As a result, Margot becomes the victim of the children's prejudice against her, and she misses out on an hour in the sun. Therefore, a few lessons that can be learned from this story. First, it is easy for people to doubt someone's knowledge about something when they haven't experienced it themselves. Next, people like William can become jealous of others who know more or who have different experiences in life than they do. Finally, a group's mentality can be easily swayed when it is manipulated by emotions and pride. Unfortunately for Margot, she represents those who fall victim to the power of a group because she is different. Hopefully, people who read this story won't ever act rashly as part of a group's rage, and they will respect other people's beliefs even if they disagree.


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