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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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The appreciation of life and its struggle against mortality drives the novel from start to end. Such a capacious theme encompasses a variety of related, less abstract issues that helps deepen and complicate this main concept. This includes the wariness of new technology and the threat of unfettered nature on humanity. In this way, disparate aspects of Green Town life - the novelty of the Green Machine, the danger of the ravine, Leo Auffmann's eccentric penchant for inventions, the threat of the Lonely One - take on a greater meaning for the protagonist, Douglas Spaulding, who embodies a unifying sensibility in the novel.

Douglas works as the stand-in for the reader: he sees a shared significance in such seemingly unrelated experiences as the plight of the Tarot Witch and the chaos of his grandmother's kitchen. No one else in Green Town can appreciate how it all ties together - no other character is going through the awakening process Douglas faces in the summer of 1928 - but this web of connectedness deepens Douglas' and our own understanding of the main theme.

The other major theme, of nostalgia and memory, is implicit in the very setting of the novel, Green Town in summer 1928. The poetic language Bradbury often employs in the book helps create a sense of longing for by-gone days, helped along by the occasional archaic reference to remind readers this isn't modern life. The nostalgia thus suffuses the novel in a subtle manner, but becomes more active in the frequent desire of characters to preserve memory and create a community of continuity - again, a way to fight against mortality, tying it back to the first major theme. Thus, we have several stories about the passing along of memories by the older characters, particularly Colonel Freeleigh and Helen Loomis, even as younger character seek to maintain this tradition.

Finally, the theme of memory manifests itself in the strong metafictive streak in the novel: the dandelion wine and the tablet of events both reflect Bradbury's desire to preserve a time of his life that was long gone by the time he wrote of it.


The style of writing often hinges on the sense of a nostalgia in the making - that is, the language seeks to capture the sensations and emotions of the main characters, but does so in a way that often acknowledges the ephemerality of these experiences. Thus, there are frequent lapses into a kind of prose-poem rhythm that is meant to be nostalgic in tone, solemn in its acceptance of what has passed.

The narration is often quite solemn, serious about the concerns of the Spaulding brothers and the town they live in: Bradbury wishes the readers to take the business of these boys and the town seriously, to keep a clear demarcation between nostalgia and quaintness, quaintness being a way to dismiss the nostalgia as holding no wisdom or value to readers.

However, the narration also allows for varying tones to direct specific chapters or sequences. There is a more hyperbolic style when experiences are recounted from Douglas' or Tom's perspective, capturing childhood and its exuberances. This does not cover all the experiences Douglas and Tom have - some stories focus away from them, such as the story of Mrs. Helen Bentley and the chapter of Douglas' illness - and thus do not have that kind of naïve enthusiasm.

Other tones and stylistic variances are also seen in chapters that stand out from the overall story: the comedy of the Elmira Brown / Clara Goodwater chapter is built on comic exaggeration and special attention to ironic absurdities that Elmira Brown refuses to acknowledge; the chapter about Lavinia Nebbs and the Lonely One has a recitative quality meant to reinforce a growing sense of claustrophobia and fear in the reader, culminating in the classic horror story payoff. The technical virtuosity of the Lonely One chapter is worth noting, as it is perhaps one of the finest examples of traditional horror writing, building slowly to the inevitability readers both fear and eagerly anticipate.

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Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine". . 09 May 2017