Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 1, Chapters 5–6 : Arrivals | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 5

Leaving the saloon, Charles Halloway sees a man in a dark suit across the street. The man is carrying rolls of paper and a bucket and brush. He is whistling a Christmas hymn. The tune makes Halloway think of children and adults walking through town at Christmastime. After the man goes around the corner, Halloway looks in a shop window on which the man had pasted an advertisement for "Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show." The advertisement says inside the shop is "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD!" Inside, however, there is simply a block of ice propped on two sawhorses. As he looks at the ice, Halloway thinks there might be the form of a woman inside it. He wants to leave, but stays looking at the ice a long time.

Part 1, Chapter 6

On the way to their homes, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway stop at the corner of Hickory and Main, and look down Hickory Street. One day that August, they had discovered one of the houses on the street was a "Theater"—one window was like a stage with the curtain up, and climbing in a tree nearby, the boys could see inside. There, people did things Will didn't fully understand: "people, all unknowing, flourished shirts above their heads, let fall clothes to the rug, stood raw and animal-crazy, naked, like shivering horses, hands out to touch each other." Jim asks Will to go with him to the "Theater" house. Will refuses and begins to walk home alone.


Chapters 5 and 6 develop the theme of growing up and growing old by focusing on the innocence of youth and how aging gives people experience—sometimes experience that hurts them. This is clearly seen in the train of thought Mr. Halloway engages in as he watches the man putting up the carnival posters. Triggered by the man's Christmas hymn, Halloway think of the "innocents of the earth" wandering among snowy Christmastime streets and among the adults. He sees these adults as "tired men and women" who were "smashed like small windows by life that hit without warning, ran, hid, came back and hit again." Growing up means leaving the innocence of youth behind, and growing old means sometimes being crushed by life's hardships and sorrows.

The theme of growing up and growing old is also developed in the focus on lust and sex in these chapters. Sex is something that holds an appeal for both young and old men: it makes young men feel older and old men feel younger. One of the carnival's temptations is the most beautiful woman in the world, and Mr. Halloway looks at the ice she seems to be encased in for a long time. Jim wants to go see the scene inside the "Theater": a house in which the boys had previously seen a couple having sex. The lust/longing of both Jim and Mr. Halloway is voyeuristic, connecting neatly to the carnival's performances. The emphasis on Jim and Mr. Halloway's observation—rather than participation—also shows a longing in each of them that provides leverage for temptation later in the story.

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