Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury|
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Leo rides his bicycle home, excited at the prospect of inventing a Happiness Machine. He arrives home and is greeted by his six children with news that they have ice cream. Inside, he tells his wife of his plans, which only makes he ask if something is wrong.
This chapter sets up the main tension of this subplot, between Leo's ambitious plan for a happiness machine and the needs of his family.
As Douglas, Tom, and Grandpa walk home, they are met by Charlie Woodman, John Huff and some other boys, who take Douglas with them towards the ravine. The courthouse clock strikes eight. At nine, Douglas and Tom's mother is ironing and gives Tom money to fetch a pint of ice cream from Mrs. Singer's store before it closes. He does so and, returning with the frozen prize, asks when Dad will return from his lodge meeting. Mother tells him eleven or eleven thirty, and they settle down waiting for Douglas and father to come home. At nine thirty, Mother starts to worry, which Tom notices; she starts to call for Douglas from the front door, to no avail.
She and Tom then go for a walk to search for him, and Tom became aware of Death. The two approach the ravine, and Tom becomes aware of how alone every person in the world is, how vulnerable to Death. Mother calls out for Douglas again, and finally he emerges from the ravine's darkness. Relief sweeps over Tom and his mother, but Tom knows that the fear will never completely leave either of them. That night, Tom tells Douglas he knows only two things for sure: that nighttime is awful dark and that the ravine has no place in Mr. Auffmann's Happiness Machine. They then hear footsteps outside the house, and are assured by Mother that it's their father.
The threat of mortality - or more bluntly, death - looms over Tom and his mother regarding Doug's absence. This foreshadows Doug's own growing awareness, though it's evident he has not become fully cognizant: after all, he emerges from the ravine without any sense of the threat it poses.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine".
. 11 May 2008