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All Summer in a Day

by Ray Bradbury

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Discussion Topic

The classmates' attitudes and behaviors towards Margot in "All Summer in a Day"

Summary:

The classmates in "All Summer in a Day" exhibit jealousy and cruelty towards Margot. They resent her because she remembers the sun, which they have never seen, and they bully her by locking her in a closet, causing her to miss the rare appearance of the sun on Venus.

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What are Margot's classmates like in "All Summer in a Day"?

Margot's classmates are depicted as jealous, aggressive children, who resent Margot for coming from Earth and remembering the sun. Unlike her classmates, who have been on the rainy planet Venus all their lives or do not remember what the sun feels like because they were too young, Margot recalls her experience on Earth and despises Venus. Margot does not participate in games with her classmates and is an outcast in her school. She is timid, passive, and shy, which makes her an easy target to her pugnacious classmates.

Whenever Margot speaks about the sun or recalls its warmth, her classmates become furious, and they resent her for her unique experiences. They continually reject Margot's comments about the sun and do not sympathize with her difficult situation. Her classmates also know that she will be leaving the rainy planet, which is another reason they resent her. On the day that the sun finally comes out, Margot's classmates demonstrate their cruel, aggressive nature by shoving her into a closet and locking the door. Tragically, Margot does not get to experience the sun or play outside on the only day that the sun shines on the planet. After locking Margot in the back closet, her classmates forget about her and enjoy the rare sunshine before the rain resumes. Overall, Margot's classmates are jealous, malicious, and cruel. They bully Margot and prevent her from experiencing the warm sunshine.

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How do the students in "All Summer in a Day" feel about Margot?

The children are jealous of Margot because she is from Earth and she has seen the sun. 

The story takes place in some future time where Earthlings have somehow managed to travel to other planets and colonize them.  One of these colonies is on Venus.  Bradbury’s vision of Venus is a planet where it rains constantly.  The incessant rain really gets to people.  It is particularly hard for the children, because they do not remember seeing the sun.  They were too young when it last came out. 

Margot is nine years old.  She is different from the other kids, because she is from Earth.  On Earth, apparently, the sun still comes out.  Margot desperately misses the sun.  She wants to go back to Earth in the worst way.  

Not only does Margot miss the sun, but she does not get along with the other children.  They are jealous of her, and think she is weird because she keeps herself apart from them.  She doesn’t fit in, and doesn’t try to. 

Whenever Margot is mentioned, she is described as being alone and apart from the other kids. 

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. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost. 

The children are excited because the sun is about to come out for the first time in seven years.  This means the other children were just two years old when it last emerged, and of course they do not remember it.  For this reason, they are even more stirred up.  Just as the sun is about to come out, they decide to play a trick on Margot.  They lock her in the closet. 

It is not clear if the children really intended for Margot to miss the sun’s brief appearance.  However, that is what happened.  They got all excited about the sun and left her.  The teacher was apparently none the wiser.  By the time the rain started again, the children were horrified at what they had done.

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What is your reaction to the way the other children treat Margot in "All Summer in a Day"?

Unfortunately, bullying is very common among schoolchildren, and there is reason to believe it would be so even in space.

Bullying is a significant problem in schools.  While I would like to say that I would never expect a group of children to act as the ones on Venus did, the truth is that children are often cruel to each other.  The situation in the story does not surprise me.

The story takes place on Venus.  In Bradbury’s version of Venus, it rains almost all the time.  In fact, it has been raining for seven years.  It is a class of nine year olds, so they would have been toddlers when it last stopped raining.  Not many people have vivid memories of something that happened when they were two.

Any time a child is different, he or she is subject to bullying.  It is just a fact of life, I guess.  Margot was different because she was from Earth, and had not been on Venus for her whole life.  She stood out in other ways too.

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.

Margot just never fit in.  It could be that the other children did not accept her because they were jealous of the fact that she was from Earth, or it could be that she found the children from Venus different and did not engage with them.  Either way, Margot was not one of them.  She did not accept them, and they did not accept her.

On the one day the sun went out, Margot was just as excited as the other children.  She remembered the sun, butthey did not.  They became extra angry at her because she said she remembered it.  Seeing the sun again meant so much to all of them.

Then one of them gave a little cry.

"Margot!"

"What?" "She’s still in the closet where we locked her."

"Margot."

They stood as if someone had driven them, like so many stakes, into the floor. They looked at each other and then looked away.

When the children decided to lock Margot in the closet, they were behaving immaturely and cruelly.  It was a terrible prank.  Being locked in the closet meant that she would miss the one day in years that she had a chance to see the sun. 

The children were really not paying attention.  They put Margot in the closet and forgot about her, but that does not excuse what they did.  The children bullied Margot, and their bullying likely resulted in significant psychological trauma to them and to her.  She would feel the pain as the victim, and they would never forget what they did to her.

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