Dandelion Wine | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Dandelion Wine | Chapters 7–8 | Summary



Chapter 7

Summer is a time of rituals, "each with its natural time and place." The ritual of the porch swing is significant, sparked by Grandfather's calling on Douglas on the third day of summer to help set it up. They sit on the porch swing, and as the sun sets neighbors also begin to appear on their own porches. First, the men come out, then the women, and then they spend the evening chatting. Douglas is reassured by their voices in the night.

Chapter 8

In front of the United Cigar Store one evening the men gather to play games and set off fireworks. Douglas, Tom, and Grandfather encounter Leo Auffmann, the town jeweler—and inventor—while passing by on their nightly walk. Grandfather and Douglas compel Leo to "invent something that will make the future brighter," a kind of "happiness machine." Leo cautions them that humans and machines don't get along. A promising invention always seems to have some kind of disaster built into it.


Although summer is a time of infinite possibilities and discoveries for Douglas and Tom, it is also a time of important rituals: lemonade, iced tea, wine, shoes, and time spent on the porch swing. These rituals are important not only to Douglas but also to the adults, if perhaps for different reasons. While childhood emphasizes mystery and discovery, adulthood looks to rituals for solace in an ever-changing world. The adults' comfort in the front porch ritual passes along a sense of safety for the children whose contentment stems from the sound of adult chatter that "came and went over the delicate ferns that bordered the porch." Much of childhood means wanting to test boundaries of freedom while at the same time remaining tethered to the sense of safety adults can provide. For Douglas, the sounds of adult voices floating from the porch make him feel "completely contented and reassured," as though these same familiar voices will "speak on through eternity." Because the idea of loss and impermanence has yet to dawn on Douglas, he believes these rituals will continue forever.

The introduction of Leo Auffmann widens the cast of characters outside of the Spaulding family and begins to show how the townspeople are connected to one another through a shared sense of place. Leo is portrayed as the town's "inventor," who takes the request for a happiness machine seriously. Yet, the request hints at the elusive nature of happiness, as well as its fleeting quality. The notion of someone creating a happiness machine seems an impossibility to quantify.

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