Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury|
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At the end of August, Helen tells William that she has been writing a letter to him, a special letter to be read only after she dies in the next few days. William protests but she accepts her impending death with the wisdom of the aged. They agree that their time together was very good, and she makes him promise one thing: that he not live too old, perhaps dying before he's fifty. This way, the two of them will meet each other in their next lives and be the same age. At last, for their last talk, William asks Helen to take him back to Green Town when she was young. Two days later, the special letter arrives. Douglas hands it to Bill, who takes him out for a treat at the drug store. There, he reads the letter, contemplates it, and orders a dish of lime-vanilla ice.
In Helen we find a counterpart to the Colonel's Time Machine: she is a space machine, whose stores create instantaneous travel to exotic places in the same way the Colonel's story create instantaneous travel to exotic times. The implicit romance of the story plays with the notion of destiny: that as a system striving for order, the universe is sometimes mistimed, as seen by the differing ages of the potential lovers. The reference to reincarnation again points to a distinctly non-Judeo-Christian view of the book, which emphasizes a kind of secular paganism with touches of Eastern mysticism.
Walking with Tom and Charlie, Douglas wants to know what happened to happy endings in life. Tom opines that going to bed at night is a happy ending every day, but Douglas is talking about Bill Forrester and Miss Loomis, which made him bawl as he discovered the details. The boys arrive at the ice house, which they enter in silence. There they bask in the cold, chew icicles, and speak of the only person who lives in such cold: The Lonely One. Tom suddenly screams, but it's only Charlie dropping some ice down his back.
Ice is a reminder of winter and mortality, but also a relief in the heat of summertime. This reinforces a sense of balance, that awareness of death is a way to better appreciate life. This interlude also sets up for the story of the Lonely One, as the boys' visit of the icehouse is a metaphorical mirror of the readers entering the realm of death.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine".
. 11 May 2008