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Free Study Guide-Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 3

Summary

As the boys leave the library, Charles feels a bit of resentment for his age and wishes he had the ability and the youth to run with the boys. As he thinks of them, he contemplates why the boys run. Will seems to run for the sake of running. Jim runs because there's something ahead of him that he desires to catch. At any rate, Charles notices that the boys run, awkwardly, together. Charles further considers the differences between Jim and Will. Charles suggests that Jim "eats darkness," while Will is light and goodness itself. He mediates on the fact that while Will might wonder why he gets hurt, Jim runs and ducks from the thing that hurt him because he knows, inevitably, something dangerous will come for him. Charles' further internal discussion of the boys reveals that Jim runs slower to keep Will with him. Will runs faster to keep up with Jim.

After Charles locks up the library, he stops by the saloon for a drink. He hears a fellow patron discussing the idea that alcohol is the elixir of life. When the bartender asks Charles if he wants something, Charles suggests the drink is not for him, but for the child inside him.

Notes

This chapter essentially defines the thematic differences between Jim and Will. Charles' thoughts give words to the allusions about the boys, their attitudes, and their actions the text has already made. This chapter furthers the theme of good versus evil, and how the boys fit with that theme by proposing that Jim's darkness and Will's light makes them very different people who seem to fit together somehow.


Chapter three also distances the theme of lost youth. Charles has known people like Will and Jim throughout his life. He instinctively knows their wants and needs. He also knows that his own youth is gone, and he deeply regrets that fact.

CHAPTER 4

Summary

As the boys are running home from the library, the clock strikes nine, and Will stops. The narrator mentions that at the first stroke of nine on this Friday evening, the shops are busy, but by the last stroke of nine, all of the shops are closed. Will says that folks run as if they are afraid of a storm; Jim replies that he and Will are the storm they're afraid of. As the boys round the corner, Mr. Tetley, the cigar store proprietor startles them. Mr. Tetley freezes and quietly listens to the wind, not responding the boys' hail. As they round the next block, Mr. Crosetti, the barber, also freezes as he leaves his shop. They notice a tear running down Crosetti's left cheek and stop to check on him. He suggests that the tear is a product of a memory triggered by a smell: the memory of cotton candy. He further mentions that he hasn't stopped to smell cotton candy in the last thirty years and that only circuses sell it. Will agrees with him, and as Crosetti goes to turn off the barber poll, Will begs him not to. Crosetti, recognizing the curiosity that the pole evokes in youth, leaves it on. They bid him good night and run on their way. As they leave, the faint smell of licorice and cotton candy lingers in the air.

Notes

The theme of lost youth is once again demonstrated throughout this chapter. Both Tetley and Crosetti seem to "hear" their youth calling them from a distance. Furthermore, the difference between Will and Jim is again highlighted when Will shivers and hopes he is under several blankets when the promised lighting begins to strike on that evening. Will also recognizes that Crosetti, an adult, is far too busy to pay attention to a simple smell like cotton candy. Will begging Crosetti to leave the mysterious barber pole on throughout the night is only further evidence of his sense of youth, mystery, and optimism. The fact that Crosetti leaves it on again highlights an envy of optimism and youth.

The passage of time in this chapter further symbolizes the profound difference between youth and age. Will is slowly beginning to notice how quickly time passes and how important time is to adults, as all of their shops are closed by the ninth stroke of the clock.

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Free Study Guide-Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
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