Welcome to Sunday Shorts, a brand new weekly feature on my little blog! As I struggle to catch up on book reviews, I thought it would be fun if each week I wrote about a short story that has brought meaning into my life.
Why am I doing this? I’m glad you asked.
While I’ve loved writing about books I’m currently reading, I haven’t spent as much time as I want exploring those works that hold personal value. I love short stories, and while I review entire collections in one post, I think that specific individual stories deserve some extra attention. Some of the short stories I review in this feature may be new ones that I’ve recently discovered, while others (like this one) captivated me a long time ago. With summer rapidly approaching, I thought a fitting beginning to this new journey would be a childhood favorite by my hero Ray Bradbury.
“All Summer in a Day” takes place on the planet Venus, in a classroom full of the children of those who had colonized the planet years ago. Due to the weather conditions of always being cloudy and raining, the children have never seen the sun. Once every seven years, the rain stops and the sun comes out for a brief period time before turning back to nonstop rain.
Standing apart from the other children is Margot, who we discover actually remembers the sun. Unlike her classmates who are too young to remember, Margot left Earth two years later. I thought it was a nice bit of setup that Margot stood alone from everyone else. I’ve always loved Bradbury’s poetic way with words, such as this beautiful description:
“Sometimes at night, she heard them stir, in remembrance, and she knew they were dreaming and remembering gold 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 a trembling hands. But then they 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.”
Bradbury then goes into some details about Margot, such as how frail she is compared to the other children “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.” Each of the children had to write a short piece about how they viewed the sun, and Margot wrote a small poem which was met with jeers. Margot never engaged in games with the other children either. She was an outcast, hated by all of them for being different. This animosity reaches its climax when Margot’s classmates decide to lock her in a closet until their teacher returns.
Without noticing Margot’s absence, the teacher lets the children play outside when the rain suddenly stops and the sun comes out. The children run around, basking in the glorious warmth of the sun. After a while, the rain returns and the sun disappears for another seven years. Returning to the classroom, one of the children suddenly remembers the poor girl they locked in the closet. Margot had stopped crying and was silent by the time she was released.
I love this story for several reasons. While being incredibly short at only four pages, Bradbury manages to tell an extremely emotional story on the horrors of being bullied. I find it a stroke of genius that the story ends suddenly without any of the aftermath of the cruel joke. While we can imagine the devastation of poor Margot, the fact that we are left to complete that journey brings those emotions out that much stronger. Having been bullied myself as a child, this poignant tale has always stayed with me.
Another aspect of this story that I think is worth mentioning is in regards to life’s precious moments. If the sun represents happiness, then it is sad to think about how moments of happiness are few and far between. Personally, I choose to think that Bradbury is teaching us the importance of holding on to those moments that bring us complete fulfillment. Sometimes, those moments are only with us for the briefest of times. Who knows how long before we find that again?
I hope you enjoyed my first Sunday short and will return for the next. Stay gold my friends!