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All Summer in a Day

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 3 months ago

All Summer in a Day


Ray Bradbury


No one in the class could remember

a time when there wasn't rain.






"Do the scientists really know? Will it happen today, will it?"

"Look, look; see for yourself!"

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

It rained.

It had been raining for seven years; thousand 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. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.

"It's stopping, it's stopping!"

"Yes, yes!"

Margot stood apart from these children who could never remember a time when there wasn't rain and rain and rain. They were all nine years old, and if there had been a day, seven years ago, when the sun came out for an hour and showed its face to the stunned world, they could not recall. Sometimes, at night, she heard them stir, in remembrance, and she knew they were dreaming and remembering and old or a yellow crayon or a coin large enough to buy the world with. She knew they thought they remembered a warmness, like a blushing in the face, in the body, in the arms and legs and trembling hands. But then they always awoke to the tatting drum, the endless shaking down of clear bead necklaces upon the roof, the walk, the gardens, the forests, and their dreams were gone.

All day yesterday they had read in class about the sun. About how like a lemon it was, and how hot. And they had written small stories or essays or poems about it:

I think the sun is a flower,

That blooms for just one hour.

That was Margot's poem, read in a quiet voice in the still classroom while the rain was falling outside.

"Aw, you didn't write that!" protested one of the boys.

"I did," said Margot. "I did."

"William!" said the teacher.

But that was yesterday. Now the rain was slackening, and the children were crushed in the great thick windows.

"Where's teacher?"

"She'll be back."

"She'd better hurry, we'll miss it!"

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. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost. Now she stood, separate, staring at the rain and the loud wet world beyond the huge glass.

"What're you looking at?" said William.

Margot said nothing.

":Speak when you're spoken to." He gave her a shove. But she did not move; rather she let herself by moved only by him and nothing else.

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. When the class sang songs about happiness and life and games her lips barely moved. Only when they sang about the sun and the summer did her lips move as she watched the drenched windows.

And then, of course, the biggest crime of all was that she had come here only five years ago from Earth, and she remembered the sun and the way the sun was and the sky was when she was four in Ohio. And they, they had been on Venus all their lives, and they had been only two years old when last the sun came out and had long since forgotten the color and heat of it and the way it really was. But Margot remembered.

"It's like a penny," she said once, eyes closed.

"No it's not!" the children cried.

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

"You're lying, you don't remember!" cried the children.

But she remembered and stood quietly apart from all of them and watched the patterning windows. And once, a month ago, she had refused to shower in the school shower rooms, had clutched her hands to her ears and over her head, screaming the water mustn't touch her head.

So after that, dimly, dimly, she sensed it, she was different and they knew her difference and kept away.

There was talk that her father and mother were taking her back to earth next year; it seemed vital to her that they do so, though it would mean the loss of thousands of dollars to her family. And so, the children hated her for all these reasons of big and little consequence. They hated her pale snow face, her waiting silence, her thinness, and her possible future.

"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.

"Well, don't wait around here!" cried the boy savagely. "You won't see nothing!"

Her lips moved.

"Nothing!" he cried. "It was all a joke, wasn't it?" He turned to the other children. "Nothing's happening today. Is it?"

They all blinked at him and then, understanding, laughed and shook their heads. "Nothing, nothing!"

"Oh, but," Margot whispered, her eyes helpless. "But this is the day, the scientists predict, they say, they know, the sun. . . ."

"All a joke!" said the boy, and seized her roughly. "Hey, everyone, let's put her in a closet before teacher comes!"

"No," said Margot, falling back.

They surged about her, caught her up and bore her, protesting, and then pleading, and then crying, 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, just as the teacher arrived.

"Ready, children?" she glanced at her watch.

"Yes!" said everyone.

"Are we all here?"


The rain slackened still more.

They crowded to the huge door.

The rain stopped.

It was as if, in the midst of a film, concerning an avalanche, a tornado, a hurricane, a volcanic eruption, something had, first, gone wrong with the sound apparatus, thus muffling and finally cutting off all noise, all of the blasts and repercussions and thunders, and then, second, ripped the film from the projector and inserted in its place a peaceful tropical slide which did not move or tremor. 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 put their hands to their ears. They stood apart. 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.

"Now don't go too far," called the teacher after them. "You've only two hours, you know. You wouldn't want to get caught out!"

But they were running and turning their faces up to the sky and feeling the sun on their cheeks like a warm iron; they were taking off their jackets and letting the sun burn their arms.

"Oh, it's better than the sun lamps, isn't it?"

"Much, much better!"

They stopped running and stood in the great jungle that covered Venus, that grew and never stopped growing, tumultuously, even as you watched it. It was a nest of octopi, clustering up great arms of flesh-like weed, wavering, flowering this brief spring. It was the color of rubber and ash, this jungle, from the many years without sun. It was the color of stones and white cheeses and ink, and it was the color of the moon.

The children lay out, laughing, on the jungle mattress, and heard it sigh and squeak under them, resilient and alive. They 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. Then, wildly, like animals escaped from their caves, they ran and ran in shouting circles. They ran for an hour and did not stop running.

And then—

In the midst of their running one of the girls wailed.

Everyone stopped.

The girl, standing in the open, held out her hand.

"Oh, look, look," she said, trembling.

They came slowly to look at her opened palm.

In the center of it, cupped and huge, was a single raindrop.

She began to cry, looking at it.

They glanced quietly at the sky.

"Oh. Oh."

A few cold drops fell on their noses and their cheeks and their mouths. The sun faded behind a stir of mist. A wind blew cool 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. Lightening struck ten miles away, five miles away, a mile, a half mile. The sky darkened into midnight in a flash.

They stood in the doorway of the underground for a moment until it was raining hard. Then they closed the door and heard the gigantic sound of the rain falling in tons and avalanches, everywhere and forever.

"Will it be seven more years?"

"Yes. Seven."

Then one of them gave a little cry.



"She's still in the closet where we locked her."


They stood as if someone had driven them, like so many stakes, into the floor. They looked at each other and then looked away. They glanced out at the world that was raining now and raining and raining steadily. They could not meet each other's glances. Their faces were solemn and pale. They looked at their hands and feet, their faces down.


One of the girls said, "Well . . .?"

No one moved.

"Go on," whispered the girl.

They walked slowly down the hall in the sound of the cold rain. They turned through the doorway to the room in the sound of the storm and thunder, lightening on their faces, blue and terrible. They walked over to the closest door slowly and stood by it.

Behind the closed door was only silence.

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






Answer the following questions after reading this story in the

Holt Anthology of Science Fiction.


1. Why doesn’t Margot fit in with the other children?


2. How have the people on Venus adapted to the rainy climate?


3. Every seven years when the Sun comes out the plant life on

Venus changes. What happens?


4. This story uses many comparisons to present ideas. For

example, when the children recall that Margot was left

behind in the closet, the author writes, ”They stood as if

someone had driven them, like so many stakes, into the

floor.” Two kinds of literary comparisons are similes and

metaphors. A simile, such as the example above, is a

comparison that uses “like” or “as.” A metaphor is a

comparison that does not use “like” or as.” Write your own

similes or metaphors in a description of some part of the

story or one of the characters. You might describe Margot, life

on Venus, Venus’s climate, or how the Sun appears to the















: On the Voyage to Values

Author?s Name: Mirka Christesen, Ph.D.

Grade Level: Seventh

Subject: English Language Arts

Materials Needed: Ray Bradbury?s "All Summer in a Day," transparencies, transparency pens, paper, pen, pencil, computer access, scissors, posterboard (one for each trait), old magazines, musical compositions and taped noises, colored pencils, markers, erasers, glue, scotch tape, tape recorder, overhead projector

Featured Character Traits: respect, responsibility, kindness, integrity, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, good judgment


Lesson Objectives:


To create an awareness and appreciation of admirable character traits and to enable students to experience what impact practicing what we preach may have on the team and/or community.


The students will be able to:

demonstrate an awareness of diverse feelings and opinions about character while showing confidence in the school system?s character traits.

experience empathy with the underdog in literature (or those less fortunate in the community) and utilize problem-solving and decision-making skills to promote the development of admirable character traits. In addition, students will engage in responsible interaction and develop an understanding and application of being contributing members of a school peer group, team, and/or community.


Objective 1

Find out students? opinions on whether schools should/should not teach moral values.

This is a classical prompt for a point-of-view essay, which is part of the seventh-grade required writing curriculum. Have students brainstorm pros and cons. As a teacher, you may wish to explain briefly the significance of character education at a time of alarming crime rates, high divorce rates, drug and alcohol abuse, teen-age pregnancy, most parents having little quality time for their children while working full time. Due to the very mobile modern society, the community does not provide the sense of security it once did. You may find a discussion on this topic satisfactory or you may assign an essay for practice in preparation for the writing test.


2. Generate students' feelings about admirable character traits.

Ask students to brainstorm character traits an admirable person should have. Put them on a transparency or have a student write them down while generated by others. Discuss and evaluate each trait. See which of these traits are among those compiled in our school system. Let the students know which of their suggested traits are identical or similar to those of the system and introduce the remaining traits that have not been presented yet. Ask students if there are any among these traits that they disagree with or cannot accept and why. It is very unlikely that it will happen because "Cultural values are not simply relative or arbitrary but are clearly and objectively imbedded in our common cultural heritage." (Lickona, Thomas & Ryan, Kevin)


3. Make sure everyone understands the lingo - No one should be a parrot.


Put students into groups and have them define all traits. Allow them to use a dictionary. Have them share their working definitions with classmates.

Focus on the reading and comprehension of the story, "All Summer in a Day."


Synopsis of the plot

A nine-year old girl, Margot, who came to Venus with her parents from Ohio five years ago, is very excited about the fact that the sun should appear here again after seven long years of heavy rain. Other children her age, who were born on Venus and do not remember having seen the sun when they were only two years old, are excited too but angry at Margot because she is different. They are jealous of her knowledge. As a joke they decide to lock her up in a closet. Without thinking of the consequences, and in the exhilaration evoked by the sudden appearance of the sun, they run outside and play, completely forgetting about Margot. The sun stays merely for two hours, not to return for another seven years. Finally, remembering Margot, the kids let her out of the closet. They are quiet and feel guilty as they unlock the door.

As you read the story, pay special attention to the presence or rather absence of positive character traits in the Venus children. Also, solicit students' ideas regarding what happened to Margot at the end of the story. Why does the author not make it clear?



Find groups in your community that need assistance. You may choose to contact the United Way or another charitable organization. Present several ideas to students and have them choose which organization they would like to help or make that choice with your team teachers. (This could also be a task of a parent group that assists with character education at your school.)




1. Oral: Hold a paideia seminar or a class discussion on how the Venus children deal with a person who is different from the rest. Where does their hostility possibly come from? Can we learn anything from the behavior of these children? What positive character traits do they lack? What mistakes does Margot seem to make? Give her some advice on how to fit in. What are the most valued and the most challenging character traits for students to attain?

Written follow-up -- Post-paideia writing activity:

Write a reflective paragraph on what admirable character traits you think you have already developed to a satisfactory degree and on which you need to focus.

2. Written: Write a point-of-view essay on "Schools should/should not teach moral values ." State your point of view clearly, give at least two valid reasons and supporting details. Make sure you have an introduction and a conclusion.


Objective 2

1. Suggest a happy ending to the story.

As most people favor happy endings involving their fictitious heroes, assign writing a happy ending to "All Summer in a Day." To be able to write a happy ending to this story, however, it must be plausible. As the Venus children exhibit lack of many admirable traits, especially of kindness, good judgment, respect, responsibility, and self-discipline, tell students that it will be their task to educate these people. Let us focus on creating activities that will address multiple intelligences to teach our system's admirable traits.


2. Study Bradbury's style of writing - poetic prose.

The text, "All Summer in a Day," has many examples of poetic devices such as alliteration and simile ("how like a lemon it was, and how hot," p. 107); repetition (" these children could never remember a time when there wasn't rain and rain and rain," p. 107); metaphor ("I think the sun is a flower," p. 107); personification ("The children lay out, laughing, on the jungle mattress, and heard it sigh ?under them," p. 110); hyperbole ("...heard the gigantic sound of the rain falling in tons and avalanches," p. 110), etc. This helps with two assignments - writing an ending to the story and character trait poems. Instruct students to pay attention to song titles and lyrics, especially country music, where metaphors and similes are quite rampant. Draw attention to "She's like the wind" or "She could hypnotize the moon."


3. Write character trait poems.

Use Elyse and Mike Sommer's Simile Dictionary or other similar dictionaries. Have students brainstorm ideas and images associated with their trait. You may give them a frame as a springboard from which they may gradually deviate freely. (See Handout 1)

As an example, you may read the following poem written by three AG students from the seventh period language arts of the Yellow Jacket Team at Leesville Road Middle School during the 1995-96 school year.




Mike Voelker, Deidre Hecht & Megan Bernard

Courage is a warrior, brave, strong, and proud.

It is a fiery tiger in a rage,

an eagle soaring over peril

or a mountain standing tall, persevering through the ages.

Courage is the strength to go on against the northern wind.

It is the spirit of doing what's right.

Courage is a good companion

sometimes hiding behind the shield of the everyday.

Courage is there when the world turns its back on you,

You go on in spite of everyone laughing in your face.

Courage dwells deep in the soul

and often comes out when you're not at ease.

Courage is a husky friend

Who puts his arms around you,

Chasing your fears away.


4. Create trait collages.

Divide students into groups of three to five, depending on the number of traits taught. Each group receives an admirable character trait to promote. You may group students based on your observation of their personalities to ensure a productive learning environment.

Students cut out pictures and headings from old magazines to capture the essence of their trait and arrange them on the poster board. They must have an eye-catching heading and the collage has to convey the message clearly and be visually appealing. Students need to be able to explain their choices of pictures.


5. Design trait monuments.

Students remain in cooperative groups and research various monuments. Then they design (draw or create a three-dimensional model of) a monument celebrating their trait. Tell the students to imagine that there is a contest for a monument to be erected in a major city in the U.S.A. or in the parts of the world studied in social studies to honor their character trait. Give students a handout to fill in the required information about their monument, which will be turned in with the monument design. (See Handout 2)


6. Create sound montages.

Students listen to various types of music that capture the traits such as various national anthems, "I believe" by David Hasseloff, "Fly Like an Eagle" by the Four Seasons, "You're Not Alone" by Amy Grant, theme from Rocky, "Hold On" by Wilson Philips, "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, "The Nanny" from Mary Poppins soundtrack, etc. Then they tape bits and pieces (approximately 3 minutes per trait) to create a medley for classroom purposes to reflect the essence of their trait. The final medley could be a group homework assignment.


7. Produce skit, pantomime, or ballet performances.

Express your trait in group effort (or individually) using one of these three areas of performing arts. Clarify the difference between skit, pantomime, and ballet. (See Handout 3)





Hang all collages around the classroom - have a representative from each group explain the choices of the pictures and headings used; consider the ideas reflected and the visual appeal of the collages.

Insist that hand-out questions on the monuments be answered adequately and neatly. The monument designs are shared.

Design your own rubric for each activity.

Have a representative from each group present their trait poem emphatically, speaking in an interesting fashion; consider content, clarity, volume, eye-contact, and body language. Display the final drafts of the trait poems.

Organize a Character or Literary Gathering with the students' parents and grandparents during or after school and share the project results. Decorate the room and serve drinks and cookies. Set up a number of student committees for this occasion (ex. invitation committee, entertainment committee, ushers, decoration committee, and clean-up committee.)

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