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

CHAPTER 16

Summary

At sunset, Jim vanishes. The boys had spent the day playing all of the carnival games and riding the rides, but very instantly, Jim is gone. Will heads to the mirror maze, steps in, says Jim's name once, and Jim appears. Will tries to get him out of the maze, but he ends up dragging Jim from the maze into the cold, darkening world. Will inquires what he saw in the maze, and Jim refuses to tell him, saying he wouldn't understand. The boys head back toward their houses, but Jim insists they go back to the carnival in the evening. Will says Jim can head back by himself. Jim stops and begs Will to stay with him forever, to protect him. Will starts to laugh it off, but then he realizes that Jim is quite serious. Jim's presence coaxes Will to say yes. As they head back toward home, they stumble over a large leather bag.

Notes

This is the first hint we get that Jim sees himself as vulnerable. While it is left to our imagination what Jim saw in the mirror maze, it is conceivable that he saw himself as he chose: older, wiser, and somewhere else. Jim, however, knows he will get himself in trouble. He relies on Will to keep him out of danger. Will, despite his reluctance, knows he must protect Jim from himself. The mirror maze is a source of mystery and danger, as it will continue to be throughout the novel.


CHAPTER 17

Summary

Will kicks the bag, and hears an iron sound. He suddenly realizes it is the lightning rod salesman's bag. Jim looks through it, finding lighting rods decorated with various symbols. He comments on the fact that the storm never came, but the salesman is gone. They glance around at the carnival and realize night is falling quickly. Jim comments on the fact that the bag is all the lightning rod salesman had, and generally people don't leave their entire lives lying around. Will wonders what might be so important to make you forget everything. Jim explains that if he doesn't already know, it's something he'd have to figure out for himself. Jim suggests the boys must look around the carnival to find out what happened to the lightning rod salesman. He acknowledges that it will be dark within the next ten minutes, but he suggests that darkness will be the perfect time to uncover the mystery they’ve been searching for.

As they pass the mirror maze, they see armies of Jims and armies of Wills collide and vanish. The reflections vanish as quickly as the crowds around them. The boys stand quietly at the carnival, thinking of all of the other boys who are currently sitting down to dinner.

Notes

Will has no concept of why someone, like the lightning rod salesman, might leave his entire life laying around. Jim, however, seems to know. He realizes that people have to figure it out for themselves. Something has obviously happened to Fury since he tried to connect with the most beautiful woman in the world. It is, though, still unclear to readers what has happened. Jim decides, though, that they must unlock the mystery of the carnival. The cover of night, with its lacking crowds, will be the perfect time, according to Jim. Will is, of course, reluctant. He knows, though, he must stay for Jim's sake.

The fact that the mirror images of Jim and Will collide and vanish like the crowds foreshadows danger and problems for Will. The final scene, with the boys standing alone thinking of all the other boys, is reflective of the fact that Jim and Will are about to define themselves as very different from other boys.

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