Summary of “Rain, Rain, Go Away” by Isaac Asimov:
Lillian brings up observations to her husband about their new neighbors, the Sakkaro family. Her husband, George, is more focused on the television than the details of their neighbors’ lives. For a while they discuss the fact that the Sakkaros are always focused on the sky and leave when it look likes it might rain. George tells Lillian that he heard from their son, Tommie that they were from Arizona (“Arizona, or maybe Alabama some place like that”). As George continues watching the television, Lillian tells him that she’s going to become acquainted with Mrs. Sakkaro. The following day Lillian announces that the Sakkaros agreed to go with them to Murphy’s Park. Although George isn’t interested she also describes how clean their house was and how sanitary Mrs. Sakkaro was (when she served the water). Lillian also tells George more about their odd cloud watching habit-Mr. Sakkaro checked all the newspaper for the weather reports and only agreed to go when they said the weather would be ‘fair’. Later on they pick up the Sakkaros, who all have some sort of equipment with them to track the weather (pocket-radio, aneroid barometer). The ride to Murphy’s park is unusually pleasant and the sky shows no sign of bad weather. After paying for the tickets, Lillian finds George sitting alone. He is now as curious as his wife and says that they’re not from Arizona. They talk more about the Sakkaros but eventually leave to meet them at the refreshment stand. The Wrights and the Sakkaros eat cotton candy then enjoy rides and games at the park. After sometime they stop to eat again. Both Lillian and George note that the Sakkaros have eaten nothing but cotton candy and that they refuse any other food. They find it odd but dismiss it. They see that the sky is cloudy now and the Sakkaros insist that they need to leave. The Wrights try to comfort them but they are persistent. The ride back is uncomfortable and tense as the Sakkaros are immensely fearful. They drop off the Sakkaros and watch as they race to their home. Lillian starts to comment on their odd fear of the rain but is interrupted by the storm starting. She finishes her comment as the Sakkaros melt away in the rain.
Chronic tension: Lillian is nosy and wants to know more about the mystery that is the Sakkaros.
Acute tension: The Wrights try to get acquainted with the Sakkaros.
Elements tracked: For this short story I highlighted the foreshadowing (aka hints) towards the Sakkaros’ secret. I decided to track this because it’s an essential part of the plot and drives it forward. The foreshadowing, while slowly unraveling for the reader, shows the process that the characters go through until they figure the secret out. The odd habits and mystery shrouding the Sakkaros that intrigue the Wright family ultimately lead to their demise.
I also tracked imagery in general but I mainly focused on the appeal towards taste. Although it wasn’t teeming with appeal to taste, lines were used at appropriate times (like the whole description on the cotton candy) and helped with the foreshadowing.
The third element I tracked was the characterization. I decided to track this because it’s the reason the Sakkaros end up melted in front of their home. Lillian’s attitude (being so nosy and persistent) leads to taking the Sakkaros out of the comfort of their normal routine.
One element that I would like to imitate in my own writing is the way foreshadowing moves the story forward and how it is presented. I liked that although the details did immediately pinpoint the Sakkaros as odd, it didn’t give away exactly what their secret was (until the very end of course). I also enjoyed that while the reader tried to piece the clues together, the characters were also in the process of doing so. That’s essentially what foreshadowing does for every story but I liked the specific details that were used. Notable examples include these lines, “She’s always looking at the sky; I’ve seen her do it a hundred times” and “Her kitchen was so spanking clean you just couldn’t believe she ever used it”. I think these are intriguing because they establish that’s there is something off about the Sakkaros but not something as strange as being made of sugar.
Another element would be the imagery, particularly the kind describing the weather, the Sakkaros and their odd habits, and the cotton candy. The imagery for the weather made it seem like a powerful force, which is what it was for the Sakkaros and explains why they would be so frightened by it, “The heavens opened and the rain came down in giant drops as though some celestial dam had suddenly burst”. There is only one moment with the cotton candy but I found it to be one of the more intriguing lines. Mainly because it takes several lines just to describe this sweet treat and at the end it all adds up. The Sakkaros were worried about water throughout the entire story and it wasn’t explained directly (until the end where their fear of the rain was evident to the Wrights. But the reason? Not so much). I like this line about them, “the Sakkaros stopped and looked despairingly upward. Their faces blurred as the rain hit; blurred and shrank and rain together”, because this is the moment of truth; it’s the dramatic reveal of why they were trying so hard to avoid bad weather and the water that came with it.
Lastly, I would like to imitate the characterization that the author used. Lillian and George were characterized mainly through their dialogue. However, their actions also helped show their personalities. The lines that are important to Lillian’s character are “in a polite attempt to share their guests’ attitude” and that she says “Honestly” many times. Lillian tries to impress the neighbors (who she admires and is curious about) but still has her attitude of being annoyed when they act ‘out of place’ (she says this mostly when she thinks they’re overreacting about the weather). For George I would like to include this line, “I was doing it for you” (in response to Lillian asking, “Now who’s curious?”). I think this is important because Lillian’s initial curiosity (more like nosiness) and George’s eventual slight interest is the reason the Sakkaros got out of their comfort zones and suffered the consequences.
1) Did you find the ending too predictable?
2) Which kind of neighbor is more desirable, Lillian or George?
3) Do you think that this is all the Wrights’ fault or that it would have happened eventually?
4) Why do you think the author chose to make the Sakkaros out of sugar?