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

CHAPTER 49

Summary

Bradbury mentions that only boys have more pockets than magicians, and Will empties his to find a match, hoping to show Charles the unreality of the situation. He finds two. He strikes one, revealing hundreds of copies of Charles, thereby driving Charles to his knees in agony over his age. Charles takes the other match and strikes it, and Will, suddenly, says he doesn’t care how old Charles is, he loves him. That seems to break the spell, and Charles smiles and laughs.

Notes

Will’s best efforts to shed light on the lack of reality the mirror maze offers only drives Charles further into depression. The mirrors make him far too old to be worthwhile, and Charles feels unable to deal with that reality. Only love is able to dispel Charles’ agony furthering the theme that love conquers all. A light versus dark theme appears to further emerge in this chapter.


CHAPTER 50

Summary

Jim has taken off through the rear exit door. Everything falls silent, though, as the sound of the shattering mirror maze is heard. Charles is able to laugh and shatter the mirrors because he has finally accepted himself for who he is. There is just enough dim light left in the mirror maze to realize that Jim is gone. Will despairs, thinking finding Jim is not possible, but Charles reassures him. They both hear the carousel, and Will knows that despite everything they’ve been through, Jim would still ride the carousel. They step out of the maze as the moon rises from the hills. Charles says they only have to worry about three people: Jim, Cooger, and Dark. If they can find Jim, deal with Cooger and Dark, the freaks will disappear.

Notes

Bradbury reveals that the only way to truly stop regretting who you are is to accept yourself. Charles is finally able to smash the idea that he’s too old by smashing the mirror maze, a noise that frightens Dark. Will starts to despair, but Charles knows he must reassure him, as Dark will feed off of their terrible emotions. The fact that a full moon rises, offering Charles and Will light, furthers the theme that light will triumph over dark, physically and metaphorically. Charles knows their first priorities have to be Jim, Cooger, and Dark, because the freaks are little more than pawns in the entire game.

CHAPTER 51

Summary

Charles and Jim run both in darkness and in the light of the moon to reach the carousel. They see sparks light up the sky, and Will knows they’re trying to move Cooger. As Charles and Will dart toward the electric chair, they notice the freaks starting at them. Will wonders why they don’t attack, and Charles compares them to walking wounded. They’re scared, as they’ve seen what happened to the Dust Witch. The calliope music changes, and Will is instantly afraid for Jim. They then notice a grotesque parade in front of them, moving Cooger toward the carousel. The parade, though vanishes and seconds later, they hear an awkward human sound. Will is afraid they’ve captured Jim. Charles is afraid he and Will are about to be captured. Dust blows in their faces, and Charles and Will quickly see the empty electric chair. Charles deduces the dust in their faces must have been Cooger. He tries to imagine the number of times they’d attempted the very same transport within the last few days. Will realizes that something must have made them drop him, then they see Jim standing at the carousel. Will goes to pull him away, but Jim is already on board. Will calls out to him, and Jim finally awakens on his turning carousel, frustrated.

Will tells Charles to shut it off, and Will makes his final lunge for Jim on the turning ride. Will, though, gets stuck and both boys are on the ride. Finally Will manages to pull him off, and they fall to the ground, hard. Charles shuts off the carousel, and together, Will and Charles kneel by Jim’s motionless body.

Notes

The freaks refuse to stop Charles and Will because though they’re loyal to the carnival, they’re also still protecting themselves. The attempted move of Cooger turns sour, and it is obvious to Will that Jim will try to ride the carousel. When he glances at the carousel, Jim almost appears as a freak, which seems to foreshadow Jim’s inevitable ride. The text mentions that Jim was meant to ride the carousel, and to this point, Jim has considered little else. In the face of all that has happened, Jim has not changed who he is. Will’s goodness forces him to fight for Jim, but he only gets pulled in with him. Jim realizes at some point that what he’s doing is wrong, but he cannot stop. Finally, though, Will is able to help Jim break free, but at the possible cost of Jim’s life. Bradbury appears to be saying that some events are inevitable. Stopping those events often has terrible consequences.

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