Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 2, Chapters 27–28 : Pursuits | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 27

Charles Halloway walks with the boys back to their homes. Jim Nightshade reveals a hidden ladder and climbs up the side of his house to his window. Alone with Will Halloway, Mr. Halloway asks Will why he confessed to the theft. Will says he did it because Miss Foley wanted the boys to be guilty, and because no one would believe the truth. Mr. Halloway says he will believe what Will says. Will starts to tell about the carnival, but stops, promising to tell his dad everything in a couple of days.

Part 2, Chapter 28

Will Halloway and Charles Halloway are still outside their home. They talk for a while about what it means to be good and whether being good helps one face future difficulties and dangers. Then Mr. Halloway explains the price of sin but also the price of being too cautious. He notes, "Death makes everything else sad. But death itself only scares." This makes Will think about the carnival: "Death like a rattle in one hand, Life like candy in the other; shake one to scare you, offer one to make your mouth water." After the conversation, both Will and his dad climb up the hidden ladder on the side of their house and sneak in the window.


The intimate father-son moments that take place in Chapters 27 and 28 delve into the theme of goodness versus wickedness. Will kicks off the discussion with a question that is likely on his mind because of Jim's reckless behavior: "Am I a good person?" He also wants to know if being a good person will help "when things get really rough." His dad gives a mixed response, which might not be very reassuring. Will is a good person, and it will help, but "good is no guarantee for your body. It's mainly for peace of mind." He adds that being good does not ensure happiness, which may relate to Will's earlier observation that his dad is a sad person. From this conversation, readers glean these facts about goodness: Will is good. Goodness helps. But goodness does not guarantee safety or happiness.

What, then, is the nature of wickedness? This is exemplified by the carnival. Wickedness uses the fear of death to frighten people, then offers life "like candy." Fear and temptation are its weapons.

The final image of Chapter 28 foreshadows the end of the novel, as Will and his dad both climb up the secret ladder that leads to Will's bedroom window. Sneaking in this way is normally associated with boys, not middle-aged men, and shows how Mr. Halloway is starting to find he has more in common with his son than he had up until this point.

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