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Dandelion Wine

Ray Bradbury
Summary Chapters 14–16
Summary Chapters 14–16

The actions of the children show that they are not only content to live in the moment but unable to contextualize their lives in any grand sense. The concept of growing older might occur in the form of a birthday, but the notion of any real change, as from child to adult, or adult to elder, is lacking. Change is not a part of these children's lives. Alice and Jane were cruel in their treatment of Mrs. Bentley not out of any intent to harm her feelings but merely because they could not be convinced that she had ever been a little girl just like them. Tom was more respectful but just as incredulous. As the summer goes on she plays along with them because it is, after all, of no consequence to her whether or not little children know that she was not always an old woman.

Tom and Douglas are amazed about Tom's discovery that old people were never children. Because we live in the moment this is partially true; because the children cannot conceive of anything beyond the moment they see it as a fact. What is interesting about all of the discoveries that Douglas writes in his book is that they are all partially correct. Growing up seems not to depend on figuring things out completely as much as coming up with new ideas about things. In fact, there is no reason to believe that adults have figured many things out but rather simply reached a consensus. The magic of summer for the children is that they undergo growth without change—that is, although they change, things remain the same.