July 21, 2023

#08-328: All Summer in a Day

Artist's concept of the surface of Venus (Wikimedia)

Note: Ray Bradbury's story reminds us that even if we find a planet with the conditions necessary for life, they may not be conducive to good mental health. Kids can be so cruel!

Get Ready: Have you ever really, really looked forward to something--and then been disappointed when it didn't happen?

Ray Bradbury's science fiction short story "All Summer in a Day" seems particularly poignant with all the bad weather we've been having.

The story is set on Venus, where it rains almost incessantly--except for a period once every seven years, when the Sun appears for just two hours.

Margot is a nine-year-old girl who came to Venus just five years ago, so she remembers seeing the Sun on Earth almost every day in her first four years. The time for the Sun's appearance is approaching, and Margot tells the other children--none of whom remembers the sun, which last came out when they were two--what the Sun looks like.

"It's like a penny," she told them once, and they said, "No it's not!"

Then she said, "It's like a fire in the stove."

"You’re lying, you don't remember!" they shouted.

The children hated her for her memories, and for being different--not wanting to play with these ignorant children. They also hated her for the rumor that next year her family would return to Earth for her well-being.

So, out of cruelty, the bullies told her that this was not the day, that the Sun wouldn't come that day.

It broke her spirit. And then the mob took her and shoved her into a closet, and locked the door. for a while they listened to her beating on the door from inside, throwing herself against it, and smilingly they turned and went to the classroom. They told their teacher they were "all here" and joined her at the classroom door.

As the children watched, the relentless rain stopped like a broken film. The silence made them feel as though they had lost their hearing. Then the flaming bronze sun came out in the tile-blue sky, and the children rushed out into the springtime.

After an hour of play, a girl noticed the first raindrop and wailed to the others. As they walked back to their underground rooms, the storm approached.

The children in their classroom lamented that it would be another seven years, and then: they remembered Margot. They walked slowly down the hallway to the closet door; the last two lines of the story read:

"Behind the closet door was only silence."

"They unlocked the door, even more slowly, and let Margot out."


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. bronze
  2. incessantly
  3. lamented
  4. mob
  5. poignant
  6. relentless
  7. rumor
  8. shoved
  9. wailed
  10. well-being
  1. without stopping
  2. a shiny brown metal
  3. pushed hard
  4. mourned; felt sad
  5. touching; moving the emotions
  6. disorderly group of people
  7. gossip; unproven "news"
  8. never letting up
  9. health and happiness
  10. cried out

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 21, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. a; 3. d; 4. f; 5. e; 6. h; 7. g; 8. c; 9. j; 10. i