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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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DANDELION WINE - DOWNLOADABLE BOOK SUMMARY / NOTES

 

Chapter Twenty-Nine


Summary

Seven o'clock one night, Douglas says hello to Lavinia Nebbs: Lavinia is also greeted by Francine, as the two are going to the theater that evening. Miss Fern and Miss Roberta see them and opine that they wouldn't go out on a night like this, not with the Lonely One strangling women. Francine is herself worried: Hattie McDollis and Roberta Ferry were dead, and Elizabeth Ramsell has disappeared. The young ladies find Elizabeth's body on their walk trough the ravine, however, dead and her tongue sticking from her mouth.

They call the police and make sure the body is taken care of, but Lavinia insists on continuing with their plans for the evening. Francine spots Douglas watching the scene and orders him to go home. Lavinia and Francine arrive at their friend Helen Greer's home and explain what delayed them - but not that they were the ones who had discovered Elizabeth's body, as Lavinia doesn't want to upset Helen. The three women move down the empty streets to the theater but are surprised by Frank Dillon, who jokes about being the Lonely One.

At the drugstore, Lavinia finds out while purchasing some candy that the druggist had given her address to a mysterious man, earlier this afternoon. This further upsets the women, but Lavinia continues to insist they attend the theater. In the theater, the women detect a mysterious stranger sitting behind them and Helen panics; it turns out to be the theater manager's brother, and the girls laugh about it afterwards over ice cream sodas at the drug store.

The drug store finally closes and the town grows still darker: the girls walk Francine home first, then Helen. Lavinia's friends are upset at the prospect of her dying, but she remains stoic and assured. As she approaches the ravine, she hears someone approaching - Office Kennedy, who offers to walk her across. She refuses and crosses the ravine on her own, counting her steps along the way. She then thinks someone is following her, matching her footsteps,and she panics. She runs the rest of the way down the steps, across the bridge, and finally home. She locks the door behind herself, feels relieved, safe, sound... then hears someone behind her, clearing his throat.


Notes

This traditional horror story is the most different in mood and tone from the rest of the book. The notion of a death wish is left ambiguous in the story: is it a refusal to surrender to fear, or an actual welcoming of death? That said, the perspective one has on this story changes, depending on the ending: the original short story ends as this chapter, while the next chapter provides a different take on events.



Chapter Thirty


Summary

Charlie tells Douglas and Tom that he's upset the Lonely One has been killed by Lavinia Nebbs. Tom thinks that the man Lavinia Stabbed with her sewing scissors last night wasn't the Lonely One, as he didn't look like the Lonely Man, a legend who escaped capture for ten years. Instead, the body they saw being carried to an ambulance this morning looked like a man - a normal man. Therefore, he couldn't have been the Lonely One. Douglas remains stunned, however as he was in the ravine last night, and seen Elizabeth Ramsell, and the lemonade glass Lavinia Nebbs had left on her porch.


Notes

Douglas and his brother again prove themselves as a Greek chorus, not only changing our understanding of the previous story - which left the reader (by mood and theme) to assume that Lavinia was murdered, not the murderer - but also wish the Lonely One back to life, if only in their imagination. In their wish for adventure and intrigue in their young lives, the boys want something quite dangerous to continue, in some ways unaware of the consequences. Douglas, however, is very much aware: he repeats that he was at the ravine during these events, and his closeness to actual death gives him pause.


Chapter Thirty-One


Summary

She had long been a vital force of the household, but now Great-grandma has taken ill. Lying in bed, she prepares to die: she explains to Tom how her time has come, that she's leaving with no regrets. When Douglas asks her who will do the shingles next April, she instructs him to choose a person who thinks the task is fun. Douglas begins to cry because Great-Grandma won't be around anymore, but she assures him that she'll always be around in those who have come after her, that any person who has a family never really dies. She gives instructions on how people should behave after her death and expresses interest in the final experience she faces. She hears her loved ones doing chores around the house, considers it correct, then dies.


Notes

The notion of continuity past death - of a kind of everyday immortality - takes on yet another form with Great-Grandma, who sees her self continuing in the actions of those she leaves behind. This is yet another death for Douglas to face.


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