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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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DANDELION WINE: LITERATURE NOTES / LESSON PLANS


Chapter Sixteen


Summary

Douglas notes the machines in town and Charlie Woodman is now taking him to a Time Machine, albeit one that only travels in the past. With John Huff, they arrive at Colonel Freeleigh's home and meet with the Colonel. The old man seems dead, but Charlie manages to wake him. Douglas wonders aloud where the Time Machine is, but Charlie silences him and asks the Colonel to speak. Charlie suggest Ching Ling Soo from Boston in 1910: the Colonel then spins a tale of watching the great Oriental Magician attempting to catch a bullet shot from the rifle but dying from the trick.

Charlie then asks about Pawnee Bill in 1875: the Colonel speaks of the western prairie, of how he and Pawnee Bill fended off a stampede of bison. The Colonel nods off, which Charlie explains as a recharging of batteries. Douglas still doesn't know where the Time Machine is, and Charlie chides him before asking the Colonel about the Civil War: the Colonel had been there, and witnessed the battle at Fort Sumter. Finally, Douglas understands that the Colonel is the Time Machine; the Colonel hears this and, calling out to the boys as they leave the house, agrees with their assessment.


Notes

The observations on machines explicitly points out the thematic progression of the novel. The notion of the body as a machine is also brought up, itself a frequent trope in science fiction - and "legitimate" literature as well, as seen by Bradbury's own appropriation of the William Wordsworth line for I Sing the Body Electric.


Chapter Seventeen


Summary

Tom wakes after midnight to find Douglas writing rapidly in the tablet. Douglas is counting his blessings: though the Happiness Machine didn't work out, there's so many ways for him to travel. He notes the Green Town Trolley, the Green Machine of Miss Fern and Miss Roberta, his own sneakers, and the Colonel Freeleigh Express for time travel. When Tom asks what all this means, Douglas says they'll be lucky to have half the years and "far-traveling" experience as someone like the Colonel. And while the boys are astounded at the Colonel's time traveling reach, Douglas observes that such far-traveling sounds lonely.



Notes

This interlude is another metafictive gesture, as Douglas keeps track of summer events.


Chapter Eighteen


Summary

Miss Fern and Miss Roberta arrive home panicked, believing they ran over Mister Quartermain in the Green Machine. Hiding in the attic, they're anxious about the imminent arrival of the police, but instead find Douglas Spaulding at their doorstop, most likely asking for a ride in their vehicle. The ladies bemoan the salesman William Tara, who had sold them the Green Machine in the first place, emphasizing the values of this quiet electric car. The young ladies continue to bemoan the accident of this afternoon, and that running away from the scene was criminal: Mister Quartermain had appeared from nowhere and hit him, leaving him lying on the sidewalk.

They hear a knock on the door and discover it's Douglas. Finally, they decide to prepare for dinner, as their younger brother Frank, only fifty-six, will arrive home soon. The sisters decide they've become too feeble to handle the Green Machine and should put it away - they will keep it, but will no longer drive it. Roberta goes to the garage to disconnect the battery. Meanwhile, Frank comes home and has a message from Douglas Spaulding: that the ladies should not worry, he saw everything and it was all right. Frank asks what this means and Fern claims to have no idea. Roberta honks the horn three times, surprising Frank, and the three sit down for supper.


Notes

This story is a lesson on the reckless use of technology and the regret felt by its owners. The danger of the Green Machine is itself emphasized by the huckster who convinces Miss Fern and Miss Roberta to buy the vehicle in the first place: as with the Happiness Machine that lured Leo from his family, the Green Machine seduces the sisters to buy something that they can no longer control.


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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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