Summary and Analysis: Medicine for Melancholy All Summer in a Day


This story is set on the planet Venus, where the sun shines for only two hours once every seven years. It opens on the day that the sun is due to make its appearance once again. Margot and the other children in her school on Venus are nine years old. Margot came from Earth to Venus five years ago. Therefore she accurately recalls the sun and the way it looked and felt as it shone on her when she was back in Ohio. However, this is not the case with the other children. They were far too young to remember what the sun was like when last it shone upon them. They can only imagine the warmness of that sun upon their arms and legs. Margot tells the others that the sun is round like a penny and hot like a fire in the stove. The other children accuse her of lying, and they show their resentment of her seeming superiority by locking her in a closet. When the Venus rains finally stop and the sun comes out, it sends a flaming bronze color throughout the jungle growth. The children soak up the life-giving sunshine until the rains start to fall again. The children now know that Margot was telling the truth about the sun. Then and only then do they remember that Margot is still locked in the closet.

Prior to the sun's appearance, the children are described as being so pale that they are almost colorless. The rain has washed the yellow from their hair, the blue from their eyes, and the red from their lips. The good qualities in their personalities have also seemingly been washed away because the children are quick-tempered and spiteful. That they are cruel by locking Margot in a closet never occurs to them. The sun, however, depicts a restoration for the children. It gives color to their washed-out appearance, and it also enables them to possess new encouragement, strength, and wholeness in their lives. Finally the children remember Margot, but for her, it is too late — she must wait seven years to see the sun again.