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Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, a collection of poignant vignettes aboutone summer in the life of 12-year old Douglas Spaulding, is a powerful mirrorinto childhood, growing up, and life in general. Bradbury, generally consideredone of the Grand Masters of science fiction, did not in fact write sciencefiction. While his books and stories had some of the overtones of sciencefiction, their themes went much deeper than simple space opera or shoot-'em-upaction. His books were often quite surrealistic and were very emotional.(Wolfheim 42) Critiquing Bradbury is difficult as it dulls the fantasy, and itis usually better to concentrate on what Bradbury himself wrote rather thanarchetypally analyze the book to truly enjoy and understand his fantasy.(Bradford 69) In Dandelion Wine, Bradbury's deeper themes mainly have to do withthe world of inner feelings of fantasy and the soul. Three sets of oppositecharacteristics that have a strong influence over feelings and thesoulcontribute to the depth and character of Dandelion Wine: life and death, heavenand hell, and the past and the future.The themes of life and death become entwined with raw fantasy in DandelionWine. One of the first experiences of young Douglas Spaulding is to realize thatthe pure, unbridled energy, emotion, and fantasy of the summer make him trulyalive. (Bradford 69) The pure, unadulterated fantasy of life and joy inDandelion Wine gives a more than magical feeling to the book and leaves thereader wishing that he or she lived in this world. (Bradford 69) One of thereasons that the fantasy of Dandelion Wine is so appealing is that Bradburymasterfully crafts the expressions of fantasy that everyone takes part in, suchas dreams and the inner world of the mind, into a recognizable whole andmasterfully expresses it in Dandelion Wine. Fantasy comes easily to DouglasSpaulding, shown by fact that that realization that he, along with everythingelse, is truly Alive. This realization heightens his senses and expectations ofthe summer to come. But along with fantasy, happiness, magic, and life comesdeath. Death plays a major role in Dandelion Wine as the Unseen One, a semi-mythical murderer and kidnapper, takes people from the town and hideouslymutilates them in a deep, dark, and fearsome ravine. While we do not directlysee the Unseen One, his dread exploits are often mentioned. Douglas takes littleheed of the warnings and goes on life as always, but the adults seem deeplytroubled by the presence of the Unseen One. The presence of death seems to beequalled out by the mystical, magical fantasy of Douglas'summer. (Bradford 69)