What is the theme of "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury?
One thematic idea in Ray Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" is that of the darkness of the unenlightened mind.
In his short stories, Bradbury frequently uses imagery, such as that of the sun. Sun imagery is often representative of God and enlightenment. Because the children who have lived on Venus most of their lives have not seen the sun, they are limited in their perspectives. For this reason, they resent Margot's little verse that is superior to theirs, even accusing her of not having written these lines:
I think the sun is a flower,
That blooms for just one hour.
Further, in the darkness of their minds, they hate Margot for her memory of the experience of the heat and color of the sun, an experience that they were too young to remember because they came to Venus sooner than she. When the day arrives for the sun's appearance after seven years, one cruel boy pretends that it is not the day that the sun comes out. He declares that nothing is going to happen. In the absence of the teacher who would correct the boy, the others go along with him. The cruel boy seizes her, and the others assist him in putting Margot into a dark closet. They lock the door. When the sun comes out for an hour, the children run excitedly, pressing their fingers to their faces where the warm, golden rays touch them.
Then, wildly, like animals escaped from their caves, they ran and ran in shouting circles.
After the hour of sun ends,
They looked at each other and then looked away. They glanced out at the world that was raining now. . . . They could not meet each other’s glances. Their faces were solemn and pale. They looked at their hands and feet, their faces down.
The light of the sun has given them self-knowledge and shown them the shamefulness of their actions in depriving Margot of the incredible experience that has just occurred. For they know now the truth of what Margot has said about the sun. In their enlightenment, the children realize the terrible wrong that they have committed against this girl because of the darkness of their own minds.
The theme for "All Summer in a Day" is bullying and jealousy. Kids, and people alike, can be so mean when they are confronted with someone different than their current understanding or when they are jealous. Margot had known what the sun looked and felt like when she lived on Earth; but, the children of Venus who get to see the sun for two hours once every seven years could not relate to her experience. The children wouldn't have locked Margot in the closet at that very special moment when the sun comes out if it had not have been for William. William is the antagonist who suggests that they lock her up 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. But Margot remembered."
Here we see that motive behind the rage and jealousy that the children felt for Margot. Whether it is one situation or another, Bradbury brings out a true principle of the human condition with this story; and that is the effects that jealousy can have when acted upon.
Two predominant themes throughout Ray Bradbury's short story "All Summer In a Day" examine adolescent bullying and being a social outcast. Throughout the story, Margot is considered a social outcast because she is different from her peers. Unlike the other students, Margot was born on earth and recently moved to Venus five years ago. She also remembers what the sun looks and feels like, which is a significant source of jealousy stemming from her peers. Margot is a shy, reclusive girl who does not participate in many of the games her peers play. Unfortunately, Margot is teased and regarded as strange because of her unorthodox behavior. Adolescent bullying is portrayed as extremely traumatic and heartless as the students lock Margot in a classroom closet while the rain stops. Margot's rare chance to experience the sunshine is lost due to adolescent bullying. While Bradbury chose to write an open ending, one can surmise that missing a chance to experience the sun traumatically affects Margot's well-being.