All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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How does the setting establish the main conflict in "All Summer in a Day"?

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The setting is the key to the main conflict in "All Summer in a Day." All of the children in the story live on Venus, where it rains nonstop. The rain ceases only for one hour every seven years.

The conflict emerges because Margot, the protagonist, is the only child in her class at school who has any memory of sunshine. All the other children arrived on Venus when they were two, whereas she came later, at age four. She pines for the sunshine because she knows what it is. She feels different and alienated from the other children. In turn, they are envious of her for her knowledge of the sun. For example, she is able to describe it as like a copper penny. Because of this conflict, the other children lock her in a windowless closet just as the sun comes out and forget her in their excitement over playing in the sunshine.

If Venus had not been a perpetually rainy planet, the conflict between Margot and the other children would not have developed. This is a case of a setting being crucial to a plot.

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The incident could not have happened anywhere other than Venus because the children bullied Margot for having seen the sun.

The setting of the story is Venus.  It rains all of the time on Venus, and the sun has not come out in seven years.  Margot is from Earth, so she has seen the sun.  No one else in her class has seen it since the age of two.

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 conflict is the children’s distrust and bullying of Margot.  They put her in a closet when the sun was about to come out.  It was a silly prank, and they really did not mean anything by it.  They felt awful when they were done and Margot felt terrible because she missed the sun, and it would be years before it came out again.

A story’s setting affects the conflict because conflicts result from the setting and characters.  In this case, the characters are nine-year-old kids.  They live on Venus, and it rains on Venus constantly.  This is part of the setting because the absence of the sun is the status quo.  If the story had taken place on Earth, the children might have bullied Margot, but for other reasons. 

They edged away from her, they would not look at her. She felt them go away. And this was because she would play no games with them in the echoing tunnels of the underground city. If they tagged her and ran, she stood blinking after them and did not follow.

She did not fit in.  However, the reason for her not fitting in might have been different if the story had taken place on Earth.  In that case, the story still would have been different because there would be another reason for Margot’s alienation.

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How does the setting of “All Summer in a Day” shape the story? 

The setting shapes the narrative in “All in a Summer Day” by emphasizing the claustrophobic world in which characters live on waterlogged Venus. Its inhabitants endure unrelenting rainfall that stops just once every seven years for two hours of sun.

Bradbury traps the characters in a cramped, gloomy world. Confined indoors, the children crowd against each other to look out the window,

pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.

Similarly, external vegetation grows wildly due to excessive rain:

the concussion of storms [was] so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again.

Instead of enjoying nature and breathing fresh air, the children can only play in “echoing tunnels of the underground city.” Further emphasizing this oppressive, catacomb-like environment is Bradbury’s description of the classmates overpowering Margot, dragging her

back into a tunnel, a room, a closet, where they slammed and locked the door. They stood looking at the door and saw it tremble from her beating and throwing herself against it. They heard her muffled cries. Then, smiling, they turned and went out and back down the tunnel.

The closet where they hide Margot resembles a subterranean crypt within the grim, labyrinth-like setting. Shut away from open air and the outside, she misses a brief, precious chance to see the sun.

Suddenly, the setting changes to contrast the dismal world of deafening rainfall. First the rain stops.

The world ground to a standstill. The silence was so immense and unbelievable that you felt your ears had been stuffed or you had lost your hearing altogether.

The children are stunned by the quietness before being set free into the temporary sunlight:

The door slid back and the smell of the silent, waiting world came in to them.

The sun came out.

It was the color of flaming bronze and it was very large. And the sky around it was a blazing blue tile color. And the jungle burned with sunlight as the children, released from their spell, rushed out, yelling into the springtime.

Like a rare and precious metal, the sun glistens and overwhelms. The normally gray sky transforms into a brilliant blue like an artistic decoration. Warmth greets the children as they escape to the outdoors where they witness varied colors and feel different textures. Instead of playing in bleak tunnels, they now

ran among the trees, they slipped and fell, they pushed each other, they played hide-and-seek and tag, but most of all they squinted at the sun until the tears ran down their faces; they put their hands up to that yellowness and that amazing blueness and they breathed of the fresh, fresh air and listened and listened to the silence which suspended them in a blessed sea of no sound and no motion. They looked at everything and savored everything.

Yet this paradise quickly ends with rain’s ominous return. The setting turns hostile, paralleling the children’s sadness and despair at losing their short-lived freedom:

The sun faded behind a stir of mist. A wind blew cold around them. They turned and started to walk back toward the underground house, their hands at their sides, their smiles vanishing away.

A boom of thunder startled them and like leaves before a new hurricane, they tumbled upon each other and ran. Lightning struck ten miles away, five miles away, a mile, a half mile. The sky darkened into midnight in a flash.

By the end, the setting returns to its earlier state: somber, endless rain. Now, however, the children know what they are missing. As they return to underground, they

closed the door and heard the gigantic sound of the rain falling in tons and avalanches, everywhere and forever.

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What role does the setting play in the development of the plot in "All Summer in a Day"?

Ray Bradbury's story "All Summer in a Day" is set on Venus. This location is extremely important to the story because of the nature of the weather on Venus. In the story, it rains every day on Venus. In fact, due to astronomical and climate conditions, the sun only comes out once every seven years.

Many of the children in the story, who have been born on Venus, have never seen the sun. Margot, however, was born on Earth and has dim memories of the sun from that time. This makes her different from the other children and a target for their abuse.

The climax of the story hinges on the moment the sun finally comes out. Margot is locked in a closet right before the sun is supposed to come out, where she remains, forgotten, while the other children play in the sunshine. The ending of the story is ambiguous; when the children let Margot out, it is not clear how Margot will respond.

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