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All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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The central conflict in "All Summer in a Day"


The central conflict in "All Summer in a Day" is the jealousy and cruelty of the other children toward Margot. They resent her for remembering the sun, which they have never seen due to Venus's constant rain, and they lock her in a closet, causing her to miss the rare appearance of the sun.

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

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

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 establish the main conflict in "All Summer in a Day"?

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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How does the setting establish the main conflict 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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What is the central conflict of "All Summer in a Day"?

The central conflict in this story is between the individual and society. Margot's deepest longing is to enjoy the hour of sunshine that emerges once every seven years on the planet Venus. Margot's classmates, however, long to punish her for being different and impulsively decide to deny her this pleasure.

Margot difference arises because she came to Venus later than the other children. They left earth before they were old enough to remember the sun. She, in contrast, remembers sunshine and misses it acutely. She is depressed and miserable and doesn't want to join the other children in their games.

The others resent her because she is different. They envy her because she can remember and talk about what the sun is like. Although she is simply expressing what she knows, the others think she is acting as if she is superior. They want to put her in place. As such, they lock her in a windowless closet when the sun comes out. They are so thrilled by the sun that they forget about her until it starts to rain again.

The story shows how envy and the sense of another being different can turn basically decent people (or children) into a mob that inflicts cruelty on a vulnerable individual.

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What is the central conflict of "All Summer in a Day"?

The central conflict in this story is between Margot and her classmates. The primary difference between Margot and her classmates, and the reason they harbor such hatred and jealousy towards her, is that she spent part of her life on Earth, and has firsthand experience of sunshine, whereas for the children born and raised on Venus, this is to be the first experience of the sun that they will actually remember. Adding to this jealousy is the fact that while the ever-falling Venusian rain is the foreseeable future for the other kids, Margot’s parents are planning to take her back to Earth.

The conflict between Margot and her classmates had been brewing for some time, with violence having been threatened by at least one of her classmates. On the day when the sun is set to make its only appearance in seven years, this conflict reaches its crescendo. Amid doubts as to whether or not the sun will actually appear, Margot’s classmates lock her in a closet far from where her cries might be heard by a teacher.

While Margot remains locked up, the other children enjoy the miraculous appearance of the sunshine, having forgotten all about their prisoner. The central conflict resolves after the downpour has resumed and one of the children remembers that Margot is imprisoned.

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What is the central conflict of "All Summer in a Day"?

The primary conflict in Bradbury's "All Summer in a Day" is considered an external Man vs. Man conflict between Margot and her cruel, insensitive classmates. In the story, Margot is an unpopular, odd girl, who is viewed as an outcast because she spent her childhood on Earth and can remember the sunshine. Unlike her peers, who were born on the rainy, gloomy planet Venus, Margot recalls the sun and poetically describes its beauty and warmth, which makes her peers jealous and angry. The children also learn that Margot's family plans on leaving the planet, which is something they envy.

In addition to Margot's privileged childhood and the opportunity to travel back to Earth, the children also treat her with contempt because she is shy, quiet, and odd. Margot is a timid introvert, who does not interact with her peers or join in their games. She is too depressed about her current situation to develop meaningful relationships with her classmates or go out of her way to make friends. As a result, her insensitive classmates bully her by criticizing her poem, interrupting her when she speaks, and physically abusing her. The cruel children end up locking Margot inside the classroom closet on the one and only day the sun shines on Venus. Margot is too weak and vulnerable to defend herself against her peers and misses the rare chance to enjoy the sunshine.

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What is the central conflict of "All Summer in a Day"?

The central conflict of the story is that Margot does not fit in with the other children.

The basic situation is that it has been raining on Venus for seven years.  The children, who are nine years old, do not remember ever seeing the sun.  The sun is scheduled to come out, so the kids are very excited.  Margot is excited too, but she is a child who just doesn’t fit in.

Margot is from Earth, and the other children are from Venus.  In addition to that, Margot is delicate and sensitive and just doesn’t associate with the other kids.

They turned on themselves, like a feverish wheel, all tumbling spokes. Margot stood alone. She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair.

The other kids tease Margot and don’t understand her. They are envious of her, and like many kids they turn that envy to cruelty.  When the class is preparing for the sun to come out, the children tease Margot for the poem she wrote.  She remembers the sun, and that really eats at them.

When the teacher leaves the room just as the sun is about to come out, the conflict comes to a head.

"Get away !" The boy gave her another push. "What’re you waiting for?"

Then, for the first time, she turned and looked at him. And what she was waiting for was in her eyes.

The boy tells Margot it was all a joke, and suggests they lock her in the closet.  He is using her desperation and expectation against her, even though all of the children want the same thing.  They are all ramped up, and need a target for their energy and aggression.  Margot is an easy target.

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What is the conflict in the story "All Summer in a Day"?

There are several "problems" in the story.

  • One is intolerance. Margot is "not like" the other children -- there is something sad or wistful about her, that sets her apart and makes her the target of bullies. She doesn't play their games, for example, and when she exercises her poetic sensibility, she is accused of stealing it from somewhere else. Of course, her real "difference" is that she has lived on Earth, and alone among the children has a memory of what the sun is like.
  • A second problem has to do with the constant rain. The story suggests that there is an emotional connection between people and their environment -- everyone is starved for the sun! One way to understand this is to ask to what extent living on the Earth, and being a part of Earth's environment, makes us human.
  • The third problem poses an answer to that question. The fact that Margot is locked in a closet out of spite for the entire time the sun comes out suggests that certain basic human traits -- cruelty, pettiness, jealousy -- will endure no matter what planet we find ourselves on. Whether other, more positive traits, like foregiveness, will also endure -- Bradbury won't say. Who knows what Margot will do when she is let out at the end?

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