Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 2, Chapters 31–32 : Pursuits | Summary



Part 2, Chapter 31

This short chapter says only "Nothing much else happened, all the rest of that night."

Part 2, Chapter 32

At dawn, a thunderstorm begins as Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade sleep fitfully. At the carnival, the carousel suddenly beings to work again, and Miss Foley, hearing its music, leaves her home and hurries to it. At 9:15 a.m., Jim and Will meet outside and walk in the rain. Jim tells Will he dreamed of a funeral procession that came down Main Street. In the procession was a 40-foot coffin, and inside the coffin was a big shriveled thing. Will suggests it was the balloon, but doesn't have time to fill Jim in on his confrontation with the balloon, because they are interrupted by a sound. It is a young girl crying and begging them for help. Will recognizes the girl's eyes as the eyes of Miss Foley, but he goes to Miss Foley's house to make sure. The boys hear the carousel music playing backward in the distance and realize what must have happened. They rush to get back to the little girl, but have to hide to avoid a parade of carnival folk. When they reach the tree where the little girl had been, she is gone. Knowing the parade is just a pretense so that the carnival can search for them, the boys run to hide.


It should be noted a literal storm is finally beginning. However, it is clear from the events of the night before that the carnival is the storm predicted by the lightning-rod seller because the Dust Witch was able to mark Jim's roof after he impulsively removed the lightning rod from it. Yet there seems to be some connection between the rain and the carnival. As it passes through town, the "rain seemed to move on away, the clouds moving with them." After the carnival passes, the rain stops. This emphasizes there is a magical connection between clouds and storms and the carnival, not only a symbolic one. For Bradbury, weather, seasons, and temperatures play their part in the overall imagery of his descriptions, while serving other (often symbolic) functions as well. Often they help to set the mood. As an author, he gets a great deal of mileage out of his imagery, weaving it in to the sensory experience of the reader and attaching greater meaning to it as well.

The culmination of Miss Foley's story line sheds more light on the theme of goodness and wickedness. It has already been made apparent the nature of wickedness is to divide people from one another. Previously, the carnival sought to separate the boys from each other and has trapped those who, like Tom Fury, travel alone. In the case of Miss Foley, the carnival's magic has separated her from her community. No one will recognize her—no one will believe her. In becoming separated from her true middle-aged self, she is separated from humanity.

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