Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury |
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Tom heads off to watch some Keystone Kops at the arcade; Douglas later follows and sees what happened: after fifteen pennies, Black had taken the money out and obtained a magic philter of his own. Hidden, the boys watch as Black talks to Mme. Tarot and demands his fortune: the card he receives infuriates him, and he lashes out at the wax figure, punching through the glass case. Douglas cries out in alarm and Black notices, only to pass out on the floor. Douglas decides to rescuer Mme. Tarot from her case; Tom sees it as stealing but goes along with it. Black wakes up and gives chase to them, finally catching up in the ravine and wresting the wax figure from Douglas. He throws the figure down the ravine, then leaves.
Douglas goes to fetch Mme. Tarot, now abandoned and city property; he tells Tom to fetch their father. At midnight, the Spaulding boys and their father are in their garage, looking at the figure of Mme. Tarot. Douglas has decided to buy the Tarot Witch's case from Mr. Black the next day. Tom wants to see what machinery is inside the wax figure but Douglas tells him they should wait a year or two more. A blank card falls out of Mme. Tarot's sleeve and Tom asks what hidden message is on it; Douglas comes up with an elaborate answer, ending with the assurance that the brothers will live forever.
The saving of Mlle Tarot is Douglas' first major act of heroism: an attempt to think beyond himself and to save others, even if only in a bizarre flight of imagination. The story he creates about her - of a gifted woman smothered in a wax works - is another variation on the theme of technology outpacing humanity. It also emphasizes how important imagination is in Douglas as a stand-in for author Bradbury himself: the ability to see things others cannot, to propose ideas others wouldn't even contemplate (as seen by the skepticism and then wide-eyed acceptance of brother Tom) is hard-wired into the personality, a necessary a part of living as he does.
However, there is also a clear self-interest here: to save Mlle Tarot is to allow her to remain immortal, and to fight off his own fears of someday dying. To preserve the Tarot Witch is to preserve his own life symbolically.
Tom is outside, counting the number of times the cicada buzzes to calculate the exact temperature. Douglas looks at the thermometer on the porch and reads the temperature on it. Tom is angered by this, saying it's the inside temperature and not the outside. Douglas considers this and joins his brother in the counting.
We see another example of science versus nature, where Tom engages in the simple wonder of the cicadas and a basic formula. It takes time for Douglas to realize the importance of this.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine".
. 11 May 2008