Free Online Study Guide for Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury |
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9.) He later asks brother Tom to stay with him for the rest of their lives, leading to this exchange:
"Like I say, you stick around and don't let nothing happen." "You can depend on me," said Tom.
"It's not you I worry about," said Douglas. "It's the way God runs the world." Tom thought about this for a moment.
"He's all right, Doug," said Tom. "He tries." (112)
The casual treatment of God - Douglas questioning how He runs the world and Tom providing a backhanded compliment in His effort - is not meant to be sacrilege. If anything, it shows a child's first grasp at philosophical questions: If there is a God, why does He allow evil in the world?
10.) This philosophical bent takes on another angle when Douglas considers the continuity of human achievement in a more scientific light:
Somewhere, a book said once, all the talk ever talked, all the songs ever sung, still lived, had vibrated way out in space and if you could travel to Far Centauri you could hear George Washington talking in his sleep or Caesar surprised at the knife in his back. So much for sounds. What about light then? All things, once seen, they didn't just die, that couldn't be. It must be then that somewhere, searching the world, perhaps in the dropping multiboxed honeycombs where light was an amber sap stored by pollen-fired bees, or in the thirty thousand lenses of the noon dragonfly's gemmed skull you might find all the colors and sights of the world in any one year. Or pour one single drop of this dandelion wine beneath a microscope and perhaps the entire world of July Fourth would firework out in Vesuvius showers. This he would have to believe. (138-139)
There is a slight hint of science fiction wonder in this passage, of immortality in vibrations and lights. But as the description grows more poetic and more cosmic in scope, there is also a clear sense of desperation, of placing an outsized scale to individual experience. This is accentuated by the last line of the passage, a statement of faith towards science (as opposed to God) that such immortality is the best hope Douglas has.
11.) Other characters also face death in the novel, and Helen Loomis does so with a certain aplomb:
"In a few days I will be dead. No." She put up her hand. "I don't want you to say a thing. I'm not afraid. When you live as long as I've lived you lose that, too. I never liked lobster in my life, and mainly because I'd never tried it. On my eightieth birthday I tried it. I can't say I'm greatly excited over lobster still, but I have no doubt as to its taste now, and I don't fear it. I dare say death will be a lobster, too, and I can come to terms with it." (150)
Having lived a long life, Helen Loomis is wiser and more accepting of her inevitable mortality. The likening of her death to the tasting of lobster is meant to scale death down to size, to treat it as merely another experience - the final experience - which is now upon her. Douglas does not feel such equanimity and as the novel progresses questions the lack of happy endings in the things he experiences this fateful summer.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Dandelion Wine".
. 09 May 2017