Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 2, Chapters 29–30 : Pursuits | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 29

An hour after Will Halloway falls asleep, he wakes up, and suddenly thinks of the lightning rod. He looks out and sees Jim Nightshade has taken it down. He has a sense that something is afoot, and so does Jim, who leans out of his window just as Will does the same. As they glance up into the sky, they see a balloon pass overhead. In the basket underneath is the Dust Witch. When she inhales air, the added weight makes the balloon go down. When she exhales, it goes up. The boys know she is looking for them. They realize that though she is wax, and blind, she can sense them. The balloon touches down on Jim's roof and marks it with a trail of slime. Will grabs the hose and washes the marking off Jim's roof. Jim regrets taking down the lightning rod.

Part 2, Chapter 30

Will Halloway isn't convinced the Dust Witch has moved on. He takes his Boy Scout archery set, lures her toward him, and leads her away from his home. He climbs to the roof of an abandoned house, and the Dust Witch's balloon lowers toward the roof. He uses an arrow to puncture her balloon, then falls off the roof into a tree. He hides in the tree as the balloon deflates, flying out into the meadow. He says a prayer and climbs down the tree.


There are three important points to notice in these chapters. One is that the carnival folk are actively pursuing the boys. The Dust Witch, with her mystical power to sense emotions, is marking Jim's roof so that the carnival folk can find him. Second, the boys' "pricking of my thumbs" senses again warn them of something wicked coming: "how are you warned? The ear, does it hear? No. But the hairs on the back of your neck, and the peach-fuzz in your ears, they do ... you know, you feel, you are sure, lying abed, that a balloon is submerging the ocean sky." Third, Will finds it isn't only temptation and impulsiveness that make someone take risks, but also courage. Will's tendency to see himself as the timid one, or the follower, is not a complete picture. He has saved Jim before, but always in context of following Jim as he recklessly runs toward danger. Here, Will goes off to heroically battle the Dust Witch while Jim stays home, unknowing. The fact that his heroic deed is full of cultural indicators of his goodness (Boy Scouts, saying a prayer) reinforces the idea that goodness does not mean weakness.

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