Course Hero. "Something Wicked This Way Comes Study Guide." Course Hero. 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 17 Aug. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Something-Wicked-This-Way-Comes/>.
Course Hero. (2017, October 25). Something Wicked This Way Comes Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Something-Wicked-This-Way-Comes/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Something Wicked This Way Comes Study Guide." October 25, 2017. Accessed August 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Something-Wicked-This-Way-Comes/.
Course Hero, "Something Wicked This Way Comes Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed August 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Something-Wicked-This-Way-Comes/.
And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more ....
This sentence from the Prologue clues readers that the story will be a coming-of-age story involving events of one October week in the lives of the protagonists.
Dad, Dad ... why, why, he looks ... like me in a smashed mirror!
Will's thought when he sees his dad at the library is recognition of their family resemblance. The imagery of a broken mirror also foreshadows the importance of mirrors in the novel—particularly the way they show a person's mortality. Miss Foley's mirrors reveal to her the fact that she has aged. People that enter the Mirror Maze see themselves at every different age, from very young to very old.
He knew ... where [the wind] was taking them, to ... secret places that were never so secret again in life.
Charles Halloway sees Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade running down the street as they exit the library. The novel has characterized their running as being blown along by the wind, and has associated both running and being blown by the wind with youth. Halloway knows that the boys are on the cusp of adulthood and will soon lose the wonder of boyhood as they are propelled forward in time.
The trouble with Jim was he looked at the world and could not look away.
Of the two friends, Jim Nightshade is less sheltered from the sorrows of life. His mother, parenting him alone, has sorrows in her past, and Jim is burdened by her need for his presence. This situation pushes Jim more quickly toward adulthood and away from childish innocence. But he also has some personality traits that cause him to be more world-wise than his friend Will Halloway. He has a thirst for understanding of the adult world and the darker things of life. He is drawn to see the world and all its complications, while Will is inclined to look past, or to the side, not directly at the world.
Warm blood ... That's the story of all our sorrows. And don't ask why.
Jim Nightshade tells his mother he wants the window open because he has warm blood. She replies that warm blood is "the story of all our sorrows." This suggests a connection between warmth and the cause of her own personal sorrows. The reader is not told exactly what the cause is, but hints that Jim's father was a philanderer and an abuser. The implication is she is worried Jim may have the same temperament as his father. The connection between heat and lust or violence is echoed throughout the novel.
If a man stood here would he see himself unfolded away a billion times to eternity?
This indeed is what the Mirror Maze seems to show those who enter it. Its presentation of a person's mortality in such concrete images—his or her own image presented from infancy to old age—is placed in the context of eternity by the never-ending replication of the mirrors. People find this so overwhelming they begin to feel as if they are drowning in the deep waters of the ocean.
The carnival rushing in like a black stampede of storm waves on the shore out beyond?
After the carnival arrives, both Will and his dad feel unsettled and worried. Asking himself what he fears, Will works out in these thoughts why he is afraid, identifying the carnival as the source of his fear. The image of "storm waves on the shore" connects the carnival to the storm foretold by the lightning-rod salesman and also to the water imagery used to describe the Mirror Maze.
Swim around with the carousel where summer ... kept its lovely time.
Mr. Cooger, who has become young in order to appear to be Miss Foley's nephew, has the job of luring her to the carnival. He tells her to "Stay away from the maze where winter slept" and to instead ride the carousel "where summer ... kept its lovely time." Here, winter is associated with old age and death, while summer is associated with youth.
For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two.
Charles Halloway presents the boys with something he has learned from his own experience. The boys have very naturally assumed goodness and happiness go hand in hand, and that sadness and difficulty come from wickedness. Mr. Halloway must dispel this simplistic worldview in order to help the boys make sense of the carnival.
You got the choice ... be good, be bad, that's what the clock ticks.
Charles Halloway's description of the struggle to do good and resist temptation ties choices made to the passing of time. Each moment presents opportunities to do good or to do bad. That is what a mortal life is made up of. Human choices are like seconds: small increments that add up to a lifetime.
Death like a rattle in one hand, Life like candy in the other.
Will thinks of what his father has told them about the carnival and the dual influence of fear and temptation it uses to coerce people. "Death makes everything else sad. But death itself only scares," Charles Halloway has told them. Will imagines death as a rattle the carnival shakes to frighten people, and life like the candy the carnival offers to tempt those who are afraid of death.
The August noon in us works to stave off the November chills.
Charles Halloway tells Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway that the carnival people are "autumn people," not "summer people." This makes use of the symbolic nature of the seasons in the novel. Summer symbolizes youth and, sometimes, innocence. Winter symbolizes death. Autumn, then, may symbolize the change from youth and innocence to cold death. Halloway connects the dark carnival, which always visits in the fall, with evil, suggesting there is something evil about autumn (and the change from youth to old age) or at least a greater potential for evil.
That leaves us with such a burden again we have a choice, to laugh or cry.
Charles Halloway's ability to laugh, showing his acceptance for his life and all his own faults, is reflected in his statement that people carry a burden of knowing "our hour is short, eternity is long" and feeling pity and mercy for others. We can choose to cry in response, indicating our dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, or laugh, showing our acceptance.
All the clocks, struck twelve. The wind was seeded with Time.
As Will Halloway, Jim Nightshade, and Charles Halloway watch the carnival disappear, the clocks of Green Town strike midnight. The image of the wind being "seeded" with time evokes the way the sound is carried on the wind, but it also evokes the sense that time imposes itself on eternity. The increments of hours, minutes, and seconds mark off the passage of time, which is itself subsumed into the eternal.
Is Death important? No. Everything that happens before Death is what counts.
In the final scene of the novel, Charles Halloway decides it doesn't matter if his heart can take running along with the boys or not. He accepts that his heart might be too weak to run and decides to do it anyway. This is the culmination of his acceptance of self and mortality.