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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ray Bradbury

Chapters 46–49

Chapters 43–45

Chapters 50–52

Summary

Chapter 46

Mr. Dark leads Jim and Will onto the carnival grounds, while the injured Witch follows behind and Charles Halloway chases the whole group. The Illustrated Man stows the boys among the wax figures at the end of the Mirror Maze and then calls the crowd for the last act. Several hundred people turn and Mr. Dark announces the Bullet Trick. He introduces the Witch as the "bullet-catcher." She does not want to do the trick but he insists that it must continue. When she tells him that Charles Halloway is still alive Mr. Dark becomes furious. The Witch wants him to stop the act but he pinches a picture of her on his arm and she whimpers in pain. He asks for a volunteer to fire the rifle and when no one offers to do so, he suggests that they should cancel the act. Just at that moment someone volunteers, to Mr. Dark's surprise. The crowd parts and the volunteer is none other than Charles Halloway.

Chapter 47

Mr. Halloway walks through the parted crowd and up to the stage. He is unsure of what his next move will be but knows that he must continue. He refuses Mr. Dark's hand and then when the man asks him how he can fire a rifle with his injured left hand Charles Halloway answers that he will do it with one hand. Mr. Dark grabs a rifle and throws it to him, hoping to show his incompetence, but with his one good arm Mr. Halloway seizes the rifle firm. The crowd cheers him and murmurs about Mr. Dark's bad manners. Next, catching everyone off guard, Mr. Halloway says he needs a boy to help him. He asks for his son, Will, who is somewhere out there in the crowd. After asking for Will several times the crowd takes up the call and soon Mr. Dark and the Witch are forced to comply. Will appears at the edge of the Mirror Maze, still under the Witch's spell. Mr. Dark cannot figure out Charles Halloway's plan because Halloway is making it up as he goes along. He gets the bullet from Mr. Dark and marks it with a crescent moon. Then after Mr. Dark loads it and gives him the rifle Mr. Halloway opens up the gun, to show the crowd the bullet is still there. He knows it has been switched for a wax substitute that will dissolve on firing, but he simply carves the same sign into the new bullet. Mr. Dark tries squeezing his picture of Will but his father and the crowd calm the boy, and Charles Halloway sends the Witch the message that he has marked the bullet with his smile just before he fires.

Chapter 48

The Witch dies instantly, and Mr. Dark shouts that the show is over and calls for the lights to be turned off. Will and his father go to get Jim, who is in the Mirror Maze. Jim hears them and wanders through an exit. The images of his father are reflected throughout the maze.

Chapter 49

The Mirror Maze threatens to crush Charles Halloway. Will lights a match to stop the images, but his father knocks it out of his hand. He lights his last match and tells his father he loves him and does not care how old he is. Mr. Halloway looks at himself and his son and the maze and laughs like he did with the Witch.

Analysis

Charles Halloway has figured out how to fight back at the carnival. He does so instinctively, without following a plan. He improvises using the few weapons he has. His weapons are simple but effective. He refuses to be drawn in by the carnival's charms—he does not wish for his life to be different or anything like that. And then, since he cannot be seduced by the carnival, he is free to attack it with his contentment. He kills the Witch with a smile etched onto a bullet that never reached her. The thought of his laughter and the effect it had upon her was enough to destroy the Witch. By speaking to his son, he calms Will, even though by squeezing his tattoo of the boy Mr. Dark was attempting to do him great harm.

Mr. Halloway stops believing in the power of evil to do anything to harm him, and without the fear that follows from that belief Mr. Dark and his freaks have no way of stopping him. He is able to spontaneously do the right thing because he does everything with the confidence of one who no longer has anything to fear from his enemy. Charles Halloway believes that his love for Will is stronger than Mr. Dark's tattoos or the Witch's spells. Mr. Dark can only flee because he cannot attack Will's father with anything except physical violence.

The Mirror Maze briefly bothers Charles Halloway, but Will shows his confidence. He believes in his father more than anything else, and his faith in Mr. Halloway is enough to overcome the effect that the maze has upon him. With Will's help, Charles Halloway is able to see the maze for what it is: another trick, like the spell of the Witch, that has only the power over him that he gives it. And he denies that power because he no longer believes in it. His laugh shows that the power once held by the Mirror Maze is no longer there. Like the Witch, he has disarmed it, shown its magic to be nothing but a sinister trick. It is the power of belief that Mr. Halloway demonstrates. The Witch, the Mirror Maze, and his power all stem from the same thing—belief. But whereas his power comes from a belief in himself and therefore cannot be taken away be anyone once he fully affirms it, the power of the Witch and the maze came from others' beliefs in their powers. Once those beliefs were taken away that power was gone. Will's belief in his father also gives him power, and it seems there is nothing that can stand up to Charles Halloway once he truly believes in himself. He believes in himself simply to the extent that he does not think that anyone else has control over his actions and he is happy with who he is. Those two features make him dangerous to the forces of evil, because they count on controlling others by making them believe that they are under control as well as manipulating others' unhappiness.

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summer reading 3

by alexwoodleey, August 05, 2013

Illinois William

A great story

by shin2020, December 04, 2013

This was such a great story!

Quiz for Something Wicked This Way Comes

by llamalovers016, January 01, 2014

For the sixth question, choice A doesn't seem to be correctly phrased. Isn't it "Jim turns Will in" instead of "Jim gives turns Will in"

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