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Dandelion Wine | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Dandelion Wine | Quotes


Douglas, conducting an orchestra, pointed to the eastern sky.

Narrator, Chapter 1

The beginning of this coming-of-age novel finds 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding still steeped in the magical ideas and fantasies of childhood, although he stands at the precipice of adulthood. Here, he imagines he is commanding the town to wake up in the morning and blowing out street lamps with his breath. He believes that he is in charge of his own fate and the fates of others.


With the subtlest of incidents, he knew this day was going to be different.

Narrator, Chapter 2

The narrator paints Douglas as someone who closely notices his surroundings and is deeply attuned to life's rituals, particularly those of summer. When Douglas encounters a spiderweb across his face as he is walking across the lawn, he senses that something about the difference in his routine indicates this day is going to be different. He is correct—it is the day he realizes he is alive.


The wine was summer caught and stoppered.

Narrator, Chapter 3

The concept of dandelion wine is introduced after Grandfather declares the season for making it has arrived. It's an important ritual to him and Douglas because it becomes a way to preserve the memories of summer—particularly in the cold depths of winter. For Ray Bradbury, senses are a way to transport people to their memories, and taste is one such sense.


Here civilization ceased.

Narrator, Chapter 4

The narrator describes the ravine in the middle of town as a place in complete contrast with its surroundings. Green Town is depicted as a tranquil, friendly, orderly, well-lit place in which seasons and rituals are predictable and comforting. But the ravine is considered dangerous and comes to symbolize all that is unknown and untamed. For Douglas it represents by turns freedom, death, and uncertainty.


The magic was always in the new pair of shoes.

Narrator, Chapter 5

The new pair of tennis shoes represents another ritual for Douglas—that summer has arrived and it is a time for running and exploring. Although Douglas's father cannot see why the new sneakers are so important, Douglas believes they imbue him with the power of swiftness and magic. The disagreement about the sneakers shows the division between children and adults, particularly in how children are more attuned to the magical qualities of things, while adults are attuned to the practical.


Getting born, growing up, growing old, dying.

Narrator, Chapter 9

According to Douglas, these are the "shocks of life." He decides that nothing can be done about the first, but he is curious about what it means to go through the other shocks. He is currently in the stage of growing up, and the revelations about life are coming fast and full of surprises. As the novel progresses, many of his revelations have to do with growing old and dying. Douglas often grapples with the notion of how much free will people have versus how much of life is fated.


Was there, then, no strength in growing up?

Narrator, Chapter 10

This realization comes to Tom after going into the ravine with his mother at night to look for Douglas. As a 10-year-old, Tom has always assumed adults know more about the world, and growing older means feeling safer, stronger, and more comfortable with something such as a dark place at night. Yet, he senses his mother's fear, which in turn unmoors his own understanding of the safety of the world.


All the things in life that were put here to savor, you eliminate.

Grandfather, Chapter 12

At first glance, Bill Forrester's idea to sow a lawn that doesn't require mowing seems time-saving, a sign of progress. Yet, Grandfather points out that mowing the lawn is something to be savored, even if there were a way to speed it up or eliminate it altogether. Grandfather has the wisdom of age to know that the "little savors" of life count more than the big ones. His rationale is that gardening allows a person time to think about things and although that time and those thoughts may not yield tangible results, they are highly important.


They can't imagine a change they can't see.

Narrator, Chapter 15

Mrs. Bentley has this insight into the minds of children after her encounter with Tom, Jane, and Alice. The three children have no concept of what it means to get older—they merely assume all old people have been old forever. By the same token, they can't imagine ever growing old themselves and refuse to believe that Mrs. Bentley was ever a young girl. At first Mrs. Bentley is offended, but she soon understands that the children lack the context to comprehend the idea of aging.


He's better than all the other machines.

Douglas, Chapter 18

Douglas refers to Colonel Freeleigh as better than the Happiness Machine and the Green Machine. The boys call Colonel Freeleigh the Time Machine because they can give him certain dates and events in history and he is able to transport them there through his stories. This ability is significant because the other "invented" machines focus on the future, whereas Colonel Freeleigh's natural "machine"—his mind and his ability to tell stories—is about the past.


It's not you I worry about. It's the way God runs the world.

Douglas, Chapter 22

Douglas asks Tom to reassure him that he will "stick around" after Douglas's friend John Huff suddenly moves away. Douglas also seems concerned about the mortality of others. Tom reassures Douglas that he can depend on him, but Douglas's response—his worries about how God runs the world—demonstrates his understanding that some events are beyond his control and decided by a power larger than himself.


They were trying to cut the wires which led back to another year.

Narrator, Chapter 25

Here, Colonel Freeleigh rejects the notion that conjuring up his memories by retelling them or reexperiencing them is detrimental to his health because they make him too excitable. He is an old man who has lost much of his strength and has no companions. All that remains are his memories, which serve as his lifelines to feeling alive. Even if telling his stories shortens his life, he is not willing to have them taken from him.


Yesterday a whole lot of dust settled for good.

Douglas, Chapter 26

After Colonel Freeleigh's death, Douglas first comprehends the sadness of losing all of Colonel Freeleigh's memories along with him. Colonel Freeleigh had access to a past that few people living at the time did. Douglas sorrowfully realizes that many of the colonel's stories will die as well. The notion deeply upsets Douglas, as he understands the importance of memory.


Waking, she touched people like pictures, to set their frames straight.

Narrator, Chapter 32

The narrator describes Great-Grandma as a family institution—she is so enmeshed in their lives that no one can believe she will ever die. She has provided for them for years in ways both visible and invisible, and in this simile the narrator shows the small but profound everyday effect she had on her family, keeping things orderly, safe, and comfortable. In this way, her life has been like a "huge sum in arithmetic," finally totaling an enormous amount.


Some people turn sad awfully young.

Mr. Jonas, Chapter 37

Mr. Jonas tells these words to Douglas while he lies unconscious in a fever, for he seems to know that Douglas feels buried under the weight of his revelations about death. To learn those lessons is to know sadness, and Mr. Jonas understands Douglas is going through a tender transition of learning hard, frightening things about the world. Mr. Jones counts people like them as also remembering "longer," a quality Douglas also possesses because memory is so important to him.

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