Dandelion Wine

by: Ray Bradbury


Douglas is the most important character in Dandelion Wine. The novel is the story of his summer. Douglas is a twelve-year-old boy who faces many challenges and changes over the course of the season. He loves the magic of summer and early on he realizes that he has become conscious for the first time of being alive. Douglas feels tremendous joy and appreciation for all of life. However, this realization of what it means to be alive carries with it a dark side: Douglas also must come face to face with the concept of death. The battle in the book is his attempt to come to terms with life.

Douglas is inquisitive and pensive, and although he does not understand the process of growing up, he quickly begins to see links between the events of the summer. Douglas thinks things through and draws conclusions based upon what he knows. However, he is also willing to revise his conclusions when events disprove them. He reasons out his own mortality based upon his observations that nothing lasts forever—neither machines nor people can outlast time. Despite the cold nature of this rationalization, Douglas is still very much a kid, and he wants to believe in things like magic, the Lonely One, and witches. Because of his urge to believe in the fantastical, Douglas is unwilling to admit that he has to die. The realism of death threatens to take away his belief in magic. At the end of the book Douglas is able to reconcile his love for life with an understanding of death. He sees that the magic is everywhere, which the magic is living itself.

Although the events of Douglas's summer seem far from ordinary, the changes that he goes through are ones that everyone must face. Douglas's story is that of every child, for at some point we all stumble upon the certain truth that we are mortal. The time and circumstances of that discovery are not as important as the result. Douglas does not simply decide that life is worth living. He comes to the conclusion that life is magical. Douglas may be Bradbury's ideal response to the dilemma of mortality. In the end, although he is more mature in many ways, Douglas still retains the happiness of a child, a happiness that life itself inspires.