“All Summer in a Day” Summary
“All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury is a short story about a group of schoolchildren living on the planet Venus.
- The children at school eagerly await the predicted appearance of the sun, a brief phenomenon that occurs only once every seven years on Venus, a planet of seemingly endless rain.
- Margot, a transfer student from Earth, is the only child who remembers the sun, and she desperately longs to experience it again.
- Envious of Margot’s memories of Earth, her classmates lock her in a closet, causing her to miss the sun’s fleeting appearance.
Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day” is a work of science fiction set in an elementary school on the planet Venus, where colonists from earth have established underground settlements full of long tunnels. In these complexes they live their lives and raise their children. Unfortunately, on Venus, rain is constant. It falls without stop, day in and day out, in massive showers. However, for one day, once every seven years, the rain does cease and the sun is briefly visible.
On the day on which the story opens, the sun should be visible, at least according to the confident predictions of scientists. Most of the children in the school, all of whom are nine years old, have never seen the sun. They are too young to remember when it appeared seven years earlier. They have grown up in a gloomy, sunless world. However, one of them—a girl named Margot—has arrived from earth more recently and can vaguely recall how the sun appeared when she was there. She remembers its beauty and its warmth, and she misses it intensely. She tries to describe its appearance to others, and she even writes poems about it.
The other children, however, are skeptical about her testimony and even seem jealous or angry when she claims that she has actually seen the sun. They consider her aloof because she seems focused on memories of the summer and the sun. She has even come to detest the running water of the school showers, which she associates with the constant Venusian rain. The other children increasingly see Margot as different from themselves, and they especially hate her when they learn that her parents, fearful of the strong distress that Venusian life is causing their daughter, are planning to take her back to earth. One boy in particular seems especially hostile toward Margot. He treats her with contempt and even threatens her physically, thereby provoking the teacher’s strong disapproval.
On the day the sun is supposed to appear, the other children are especially belligerent toward Margot. They suspect that the prediction of the sun’s appearance is merely a joke. While their teacher is out of the room for a while, they lash out at Margot, who believes the scientists’ forecast. The children decide to lock her in a distant closet, down a long tunnel, far away from the classroom. When their teacher returns, the teacher herself is so excited about the expected imminent appearance of the sun that she does not notice Margot’s absence.
Stunned by the cessation of the rain and the sudden appearance of the sun’s light and heat, the children dash outside to play beneath its warm rays. They roll on the ground and run among the trees, exploring the lush green beauties of the planet and spending an hour outdoors in sheer pleasure. Their lives suddenly seem full of joy and wild abandonment, although their teacher is careful to caution them not to stray too far from the school. They cannot help, however, feeling intense pleasure thanks to this new and wholly unfamiliar experience.
Eventually, however, the rain begins to fall again, drop by single drop. The sun begins to disappear once more, not to return for another seven years. Safely inside the school again, the children hear the rain crashing down outside in a steady, relentless Venusian downpour. Finally, one of the children remembers Margot, who is still locked in the closet. They look at one another in solemn silence, apparently feeling ashamed. Eventually, arriving at the distant closet, they hear no noise from inside. They open its door, however, and let Margot venture forth.