Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 2, Chapters 35–36 : Pursuits | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 35

Charles Halloway is having coffee at Ned's Night Spot when a man enters and places his hand next to him. Each finger has an eye tattooed on it. Mr. Halloway turns to look at the Illustrated Man, Mr. Dark. Meanwhile, the boy is still trying to get his gum from under the sidewalk grate. The Dwarf, drawn to look down into the grate, must see the boys hiding, although his addled brain will not recognize this fact until later.

In the cafe, Mr. Dark tells Mr. Halloway he is looking for two boys. Charles Halloway gives a nonchalant answer and leaves, walking to the cigar store to buy a cigar. As he lights the cigar, he looks down and sees Will Halloway. He speaks quietly to the boys, who tell him they are afraid of the Illustrated Man. Just then Mr. Dark comes over to the cigar store. He tells Mr. Halloway he needs to find two boys who have been chosen to have free carnival rides—and show the faces of the two boys, which are tattooed on his palms. Charles Halloway feigns ignorance, and Mr. Dark becomes angry and clenches his fists so hard they bleed. Below, the boys feel as though they are being crushed.

The Dust Witch arrives to assist the search. Even though he is affected by her psychic powers, Mr. Halloway casually smokes his cigar, blowing smoke in her face, which distracts her from her search. Eventually the Dust Witch and Illustrated Man move off, rebuffed by Mr. Halloway's indifferent attitude. But before going, Mr. Dark asks Mr. Halloway's name. He responds honestly and even volunteers that he works at the library. Mr. Halloway warns the boys to stay in hiding. He's going to do some research at the library.

Part 2, Chapter 36

As the Dwarf wanders town, he suddenly realizes he had seen the two boys under the grate, and he reports this to Mr. Dark. But when Mr. Dark returns to the grate in front of the cigar store, the boys are gone.

Analysis

The suspense from the previous chapter continues into Chapter 35 as the boys' hiding place is nearly discovered and as Mr. Dark and Mr. Halloway have a tense conversation just above them. The motif of the senses is used to focus on the ways characters know (or want to know, or do not know) things. The eyes tattooed on the hand of Mr. Dark show he is looking for something, or someone. The Dwarf's eyes click like the shutter of a camera—described in mechanical terms as were the freaks in the Freak Tent—but he doesn't truly see what he is looking at. Using a different kind of sense—more of a sixth sense—Mr. Halloway senses he needs to go over to the cigar store, even though he doesn't want a cigar.

The encounter in front of the cigar store shows further development in the character of Charles Halloway. Mr. Halloway surprises both his son and himself by his own bravery in the face of the threat he feels from Mr. Dark and the Dust Witch. He takes on a nonchalant attitude as he denies any knowledge of the boys, lying directly to the face of the sinister Mr. Dark and even blowing smoke into the face of the Dust Witch. Even more boldly, when Mr. Dark asks his name, Mr. Halloway answers truthfully—unlike the frightened boys in earlier encounters with Mr. Dark and with the police. Charles Halloway's invitation to see him at the library foreshadows the later encounter there, in which Mr. Halloway will again confront these two menacing characters and will take his smoke-blowing nonchalance one step further. Even here, the discomfort Mr. Dark and the Dust Witch feel at Mr. Halloway's indifference is noticeable, hinting at a possible vulnerability.

The fact that Mr. Dark has added the faces of Jim and Will to his tattooed illustrations suggests he has already claimed some kind of power over them. Further, when he clenches his hands, they feel their heads being squeezed. This is a foreboding development.

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