Something Wicked This Way Comes | Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

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Something Wicked This Way Comes | Part 3, Chapters 47–48 : Departures | Summary



Part 3, Chapter 47

Charles Halloway comes through the crowd and climbs onto the platform. He must fire the gun with one hand, as his left is crushed. To solve the problem, Mr. Halloway calls to his son to help him hold the gun. The voices of his father and members of the crowd calling his name reach Will Halloway, despite the spell he is under. Will emerges from the maze. Mr. Halloway inscribes a crescent moon shape on the bullet, which as part of the act is slipped to the Dust Witch, who hides it in her cheek. Sensing danger, Mr. Dark squeezes his fist, making Will flinch. Mr. Halloway plays up his part of the act, getting the crowd to laugh and getting Will to smile, both of which seem to provide some protection for the boy. As he prepares, he mouths the words to the witch, explaining what he has done: "I have put my own smile on the bullet in the rifle." Then, grinning and propping the rifle on his son's shoulder, he fires.

Part 3, Chapter 48

The Dust Witch falls dead, and Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are released from her spell. Upon inspection, she does not seem to have died of a bullet wound. Since the bullet trick involves a wax bullet that melts away, this is not a huge surprise. Charles Halloway knows his smile killed her. Mr. Dark claims she has just fainted, and tells the crowd the show is over. As the crowd disperses, Mr. Halloway and Will go into the Mirror Maze to rescue Jim. Suddenly all the lights go out.


Mr. Halloway puts his new understanding of the "weapon" that can hurt the carnival to work right away. Inscribing his smile onto the bullet is a concrete way to show a more magical reality: Halloway literally weaponizes his smile as he connects it to the bullet. It is important that the Dust Witch knows the gun was loaded with his smile for the magic to work. Since the real power is in her realization that he isn't afraid of her or of death, even a disappearing bullet (or a bullet simply placed in her cheek) is enough to kill her. Also, as he defended himself earlier, he uses the power of laughter and smiles to defend his son from the carnival's power. Empowered by the success, he plunges into the Mirror Maze for a rescue attempt.

These chapters showcase the father-son relationship that has become increasingly important over the course of the novel. Will's father summons him from the Maze, and despite the spell he is under, he can hear it. Mr. Halloway, who at the beginning of the novel was paralyzed by his feeling of being too old to be a good father to Will, finds that he has both the purpose and the strength of character to fulfill this important role in Will's life.

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