Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 2, Chapters 43–44 : Pursuits | Summary

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Summary

Part 2, Chapter 43

Mr. Dark shows the palms of his hands to the boys, on which their pictures are tattooed. Then he grabs them. Charles Halloway attempts to intervene, but he is no match for the strength of Mr. Dark, who squeezes Halloway's hand until the bones break. Out the window, Will Halloway sees his mother emerge from a church. He tries to call out, but Mr. Dark prevents him. Mr. Dark then drags the boys outside, where the Dust Witch places a spell on them, blinding and deafening them. Mr. Dark then orders the Witch to kill Mr. Halloway.

Part 2, Chapter 44

Back in the library, Charles Halloway's crushed hand throbs as the Dust Witch sings "old man, old man, old man" from the hall. She approaches, leans over him, and suggests that his heart is beating slower and slower. His heart begins to slow. He watches her as she whispers and motions at him. Just as he is about to die, he lets out a giggle at how silly the witch looks, waving her fingers as if to tickle him. The giggle becomes a smile, which becomes a laugh. She is repelled and runs away. Mr. Halloway wonders at his sudden victory and plans to follow.

Analysis

Chapter 44 describes a critical moment in Mr. Halloway's character development. Just as his indifference frustrated the plans of Mr. Dark as the carnival folk searched the town for Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, his lack of fear in the face of his own death frustrates the Dust Witch's attempt to kill him. In this near escape from death, Mr. Halloway realizes the deep truth of what he only understood intellectually before: Death isn't a tool of evil, but the fear of death is. Mr. Halloway's laughing and smiling signal his freedom from the fear of death. In terms of the theme of dissatisfaction and acceptance, he has stopped—momentarily at least—being dissatisfied with death and has begun to accept it.

The confrontation between Mr. Halloway and the Dust Witch is the final important event in Part 2 of the novel. Going into Part 3, Will and Jim are prisoners of Mr. Dark, and Mr. Halloway is injured, but not dead. The stage is set for Mr. Halloway to use the weapon he has discovered against the carnival.

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