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Dandelion Wine | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Dandelion Wine | Symbols



In Dandelion Wine the dandelions themselves become symbolic to the Spaulding family. For Douglas, Tom, and Grandfather, the dandelions symbolize the beginning of summer and mark the change to a new season. At the same time, the dandelions are a symbol of a long-standing and pleasurable yearly ritual, one of the fixtures of Douglas's life that remains unchanged during the summer of 1928. The dandelions show up as part of a larger cycle of life and death within the novel, reminding readers that each year brings a new crop.

The wine they make from the dandelions also represents singular memories of the days on which they are bottled. Examining some of the season's earlier bottles, Douglas even muses that some should be brighter or darker depending on what happened on those days. Moreover, the bottles symbolize a certain magic, for Douglas believes that by drinking a drop he can be transported to a particular day's memory of that summer.


Various "fantastic" machines feature in the novel: the Happiness Machine, the Green Machine, the Time Machine, and the Tarot Witch. Machines such as the Happiness Machine and the Green Machine offer the appeal of progress and an easier future. Both malfunction, however, causing unforeseen anxiety and sadness. Ray Bradbury uses them to caution against the rush to progress and to suggest gently that perhaps some things can't or shouldn't be improved with the help of a machine. The town trolley is also retired to give way to a bus system, which Charlie Woodman laments will take away students' opportunities to be late for school. However, the loss of Colonel Freeleigh's time machine, which travels backward instead of forward, deeply upsets Douglas because it means that parts of the past have died with Colonel Freeleigh. The Tarot Witch also breaks down, despite promising glimpses of the future. Bradbury suggests that machines can tell a lot about hopes for the future and a desire for the past. But they are neither infallible nor predictable.

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