Summary of “A Story of Love” by Ray Bradbury

A Story of Love Ray Bradbury Summary
“A Story of Love” Summary

“A Story of Love” is a short story by Ray Bradbury that appeared in his 1976 collection Long After Midnight. It has also been published under the title “These Things Happen. It’s about the relationship that develops between a new teacher, Miss Taylor, and one of her students, Bob Spaulding, and how they decide to handle it. Here’s a summary of “A Story of Love”.

“A Story of Love” Summary

Ann Taylor, twenty-four, arrives to teach summer school at Green Town Central. She’s popular with the students and everyone in town reacts positively to her. Bob Spaulding, almost fourteen, stays to himself, walking, climbing trees, or sitting on his Grandmother’s porch.

On her first day, Ann Taylor introduces herself as the new teacher. The students immediately respond positively to her. Bob behaves himself. After class, he gets a bucket of water and washes the board. He wants to do it every day.

The next morning, Bob is waiting for Miss Taylor when she comes out of her place. They walk to school together and he carries her books. They don’t say anything. Miss Taylor notices how at ease he is. When they arrive, Bob says they’re friends. Miss Taylor isn’t sure how to respond.

For the next two weeks, Bob stays after school washing the boards and cleaning the erasers while Miss Taylor does her paperwork. After, he sits and waits until five when she says it’s time to go. He helps her with her hat and coat. As they walk across the yard they talk.

One day Miss Taylor asks what he’s going to do when he grows up. He wants to be a writer and he reads a lot. Miss Taylor is concerned that he gets kept in every day after school when he could be doing other things, but he likes it. Bob invites Miss Taylor to come on his Saturday walk to Lake Michigan where he eats sandwiches and has orange soda, but she politely declines.

A few days later, Miss Taylor gives Bob a copy of Great Expectations. He stays up that night and reads it. Each morning Bob waits for Miss Taylor just out of sight of her boarding house. She almost tells him many times not to come any more. They talk about literature as they walk.

On Friday morning, Miss Taylor finds a preserved butterfly on her desk from Bob’s collection. She finds it impossible to call on him during class, and she doesn’t look at him when they walk together. She finds herself looking at him sometimes when he cleans the board.

On Saturday morning, Miss Taylor shows up at the creek where Bob is catching crayfish. He shows her the fish and the butterflies and they sit on the sand and have their picnic. They both enjoy it but don’t say much. At the end, Bob realizes it’s wrong in a way; others would laugh at them. They agree not to meet anymore.

On Monday, Miss Taylor leaves earlier in the morning and Bob misses walking with her. She also leaves early that day with a headache.

On Tuesday they stay after school like usual. Miss Taylor calls Bob over to sit down. He knows what it’s about and they talk. He’s not quite fourteen yet and she’s twenty-four. She’s never had as much affection for a student as she does for him, and he likes her much more than any teacher he’s ever had.

He’s not an ordinary boy and her feelings developed naturally due to his character and goodness. Unfortunately, the community judges these things based on age and size, and on those counts they don’t match. Maybe one day it won’t be like this, but for now it is. They have nothing to be ashamed of, but if they go against the prevailing standard they’re sure to be unhappy. They both understand how impossible their situation is, even though they don’t like it.

But what is to be done? Miss Taylor could request a transfer or Bob could be transferred. They don’t have to do anything. Bob’s father got a job in Madison and they’re moving next week. Bob suggests they could still visit at times, but that wouldn’t be a good idea. They don’t know how any of this happened; no one ever does.

Bob’s not mad at Miss Taylor. She explains that they’re unhappy now but that will change in the future. There are always compensations in life. Bob blurts out that she could wait for him. It wouldn’t work, even though it’s an appealing thought. She’ll be a different person in ten years.

Bob promises not to forget her. He’s not to clean the boards any more. He leaves and looks back, seeing Miss Taylor for the last time.

The next week, Bob’s family moves fifty miles away to Green town. He doesn’t come back again until he’s almost thirty and married. He finds out Miss Taylor died shortly after he left and had never married. He goes to her tombstone and sees she died at twenty-six.

When Bob’s wife walks through town, people react to her the same way they used to react to Ann Taylor.

I hope this summary of “A Story of Love” by Ray Bradbury was helpful.