“The Sound of Summer Running” by Ray Bradbury Summary

The Sound of Summer Running Ray Bradbury Summary
“The Sound of Summer Running” Summary

“The Sound of Summer Running” is a short story by Ray Bradbury and one of the episodes from Dandelion Wine. It’s a nostalgic piece about a boy who wants a new pair of running shoes for the summer. I think many men can remember how important it was to get a new pair of sneakers, and this story captures the feeling quite well. Here’s a summary of “The Sound of Summer Running”.

“The Sound of Summer Running” Summary

Late one June night, on the way home from a movie with his family, Douglas sees a pair of tennis shoes—Royal Crown Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Tennis Shoes—in a shop window. His dad doesn’t see why he needs new tennis shoes when he still has his pair from last year. For Douglas, it’s about how it feels to put on new shoes, like the first time stepping into the creek in summer and other notable firsts. They represent summer, but he can’t put this into words and explain it.

The magic is in putting on new shoes in the summer; lasts years don’t have it anymore. They’re dead inside and you can feel it towards the end of summer. Douglas’s dad tells him to save his money, but he knows summer will be almost over by then.

Lying in bed that night, Douglas tries to think of reasons to convince his dad to get him the shoes. There isn’t much in his piggy bank. He imagines running the hills in the new shoes.

The next morning, the owner of the shoe store, old Mr. Sanderson, adjusts his display of shoes with care. Douglas enters wearing his leather shoes and walks slowly to the counter. He carefully stacks his coins on the counter.

Before Douglas can say anything, Mr. Sanderson speaks up. He knows why Douglas is here. He has seen him every afternoon looking into the display window at the Royal Crown Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Tennis Shoes. He wants them, and he wants them on credit.

Douglas objects to this because he has something better to offer. First, though, he asks a favor of Mr. Sanderson. He wants to know when he last wore a pair of Litefoot sneakers. It’s been thirty years. Douglas argues that Mr. Sanderson needs to try the shoes on so he knows how they feel. Then he can rave about them to his customers.

Mr. Sanderson reluctantly agrees. He tries the shoes on and stands up. They feel fine and he’s about to sit back down. Douglas persuades him to rock and bounce a little. Douglas makes his offer. He’ll pay what he has now for the shoes, which is one dollar short. Immediately, he’ll start working for Mr. Sanderson in the new shoes—making deliveries and pickups, and running errands of all kinds. Can’t Mr. Sanderson feel how springy the shoes are, how they’ll propel Douglas all over the place doing jobs for him?

Mr. Sanderson is amazed at the boy’s enthusiastic pitch. He loses himself for a moment, rocking and flexing in the shoes. He comes out of it and they look at each other in silence; Mr. Sanderson has realized something. He offers Douglas a job selling shoes in five years.

Mr. Sanderson gets a pair of the sneakers and hands them to Douglas, who puts them on. He writes a list and hands it to Douglas. There are a dozen errands on it; when Douglas completes them they’re even.

As Douglas bounds out of the store on his new shoes, Mr. Sanderson asks how they feel. Douglas is overwhelmed with the associations of summer and can’t say anything. He nods at Mr. Sanderson’s suggestions of antelopes or gazelles and runs off.

Mr. Sanderson stands in the sunny doorway and remembers the sounds of leaping through the bush as a boy like an antelope or gazelle. He turns from the door and walks softly back to civilization.

I hope this summary of “The Sound of Summer Running” by Ray Bradbury was helpful.