Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 1, Chapters 9–10 : Arrivals | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 9

Jim Nightshade is in bed, holding a library book but not reading it. Jim's mother comes in and sits on his bed. Jim is one of three children, but the others are gone. His father is also gone. His mom tells him she wants him to do two things: tell her when he plans to leave home and bring children when he comes back. Jim says he's never going to have children. Furthermore, he says he is "never going to own anything can hurt me." She tells him "No, some day, you've got to be hurt." She remarks on the open window, and Jim tells her he has warm blood. Warm blood is the "story of all our sorrows," she tells him. After she leaves, he leans out of the window, feels the storm coming, and thinks of getting rid of the lightning rod.

Part 1, Chapter 10

Just past midnight, the lightning-rod salesman walks along the street. He comes to the shop with the block of ice supported on two sawhorses. In the ice, he sees "the most beautiful woman in the world," and she reminds him of women in famous paintings, sculpture, and film. He imagines what would happen if he went into the shop, placed his warm hand on the ice block, and melted the ice. He pushes on the door and it opens. He walks inside. The door shuts behind him.


These chapters continue to develop the differences between Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway. Will's family has been presented as safe, while Jim's is not. His mother's life has been hard: abused by her husband, now parenting alone, having lost two out of three children. Her love is less a comfort and more a burden to Jim, in contrast to the Halloways. So he is more acquainted with sorrow. The narrator puts it in terms of seeing and looking: "The trouble with Jim was he looked at the world and could not look away." By seeing, Jim has the outlook of a 20-year-old, while Will, who looks away, has only seen a total of six years of the "laundry of the world." Jim is familiar with his own shadow, but Will hardly notices his.

The lightning-rod salesman succumbs to the temptation that Will's father resisted, as he sees the ice block and cannot help going inside the door to see what will happen if he melts the ice. The door closing behind him is an ominous sign that he is walking into a trap. The image of the lightning-rod salesman's warm hand recalls Jim's mother's assertion that "warm blood" is the source of all their sorrows. Temperature—usually warm versus cold—is an ongoing motif in the novel, with warm temperatures associated positively with life and youth and negatively with lust and anger. In these chapters, both the lightning-rod salesman and Jim's mom emphasize the negative associations.

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