Dandelion Wine

by: Ray Bradbury

Motifs

Memory

Memory has a recurring role in Dandelion Wine. Colonel Freeleigh becomes a Time Machine to the boys because his memory can transport them to places in the distant past. In the end of the book, Tom still believes that he can remember everything. Douglas believed that once, but John Huff showed him how difficult it is to remember even simple, important things. Memory is fallible, and we do not hold on to everything, but we do remember some things. After all, it is memory that makes possible the past. If we remembered nothing then we would have no concept of change, because we would have nothing to compare the present with. The entire book, we must come in mind, comes from Bradbury's memories, made "real" to us through his imagination. Certain characters in the book are given to much reflection, and their thoughts of the past make us wonder how much things really change. Although he is getting older, Grandpa Spaulding seems to live life very similarly to Douglas or Tom. Memory is also a way to combat some of the change in life, because we can remember people after they are gone. Great-grandma Spaulding will live on in the actions and memories of her family.

Magic

Magic permeates this story. The book begins with Douglas invoking his magic at the beginning of the first day of summer and ends with him doing the same at the end of the last day of summer. Magic is more than a part of life—it is life. There is no magic in the classical sense involving witches and monsters, and the only episode in the book that involves serious discussion of such magic is told in a very humorous way. It is the bigger magic that Bradbury focuses on, the magic of existence. Douglas begins to understand this magic for the first time on the day he realizes he is alive. On that day he understands that the magic that runs through the world runs through him, and that he is a part of the world. If this magic is everywhere, then it is not really anything more than an appreciation for the beauty of life. Hence Grandpa Spaulding tells Bill Forrester how spectacular it can be to mow the lawn. Hence a simple weed, the dandelion, can be turned into bottled summer. The magic is in life, and it is up to us to see it, appreciate it, and partake in it. If we do, then we will be thrilled with the happiness of simply living life.