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Free Study Guide for Something Wicked This Way Comes

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Jim abruptly stops at the corner of Hickory and Main. He glances down Hickory Street, and as Will stops beside him, Jim begs to stop at the fifth house down the street for a minute. Will glances down the street.

During the course of the past summer, the boys discovered a bedroom window with the shade up. The boys refer to the room as the "theater," where the "actors," the residents of the home, whisper things Will doesn't understand. Jim, though, is fascinated with the residents.

As the boys stand at the corner, Jim begs Will to head toward the theater. He recalls the evening they discovered the exhibition. They were picking apples high in a tree when Jim glanced through the window. He caught Will's attention, and they looked through the window. The residents of the house were engaging in sexual foreplay. Will, fearful and queasy, wondered what the residents were doing. When he could watch no more, he dropped from the tree. Jim continued to watch, spellbound with the forbidden activities.

Jim continues to beg Will to go peek at the window. He finally hands Will his library books, and leaves toward the "theater." As he leaves Will, he calls him a "darn old dimwit Episcopal Baptist." Will clutches the library books tightly and walks quickly toward home.


This chapter furthers the ever growing difference between Jim and Will. Will is both confused and frightened by maturity in all forms, particularly the sexual maturity he notices through the window. Jim, though, is fascinated. He both wants and needs to know everything possible about growing up. Will wants little to do with anything that violates his childhood precedents. Jim is continually begging Will to taste maturity with him, and when he refuses, Jim is quick to anger - an emotion that seems to frighten Will. This is also the first time we see religion insulted. Religion is quickly insulted throughout the novel by characters engaged in undesirable and evil behaviors.



Will heads home by himself, leaving Jim to his own activities. As he reaches the halfway point, Jim joins him, with the explanation that the homeowners aren't home. Will thinks that's acceptable, and Jim calls Will a "darn Baptist preacher." As they turn the corner toward their homes, a poster gets tangled in Jim's legs. It's a carnival advertisement with fantastic promises. The boys realize the carnival is set to open tomorrow. Will as dismayed; he advises Jim that carnivals stop arriving after Labor Day. Jim, though, is fascinated by the promises of wonder on the flyer. Will tries, to no avail, to explain each promise away. He finally tells Jim to "shut up." Jim, sensing Will's anger, inquires as to his mood. Will starts to explain his reluctance, but a gust of wind blows the advertisement away. Will suggests that no one would attend a carnival held so late in the year. Jim, however, says that he would attend the carnival. Suddenly Jim realizes that the music he'd heard at the library door was calliope music. He deduces that the carnival must be arriving that evening. Will says that carnivals only arrive in the morning, but Jim reminds Will of the scent of cotton candy and licorice they'd smelled in town. As Will considers the events of the evening, he is panicked and begs Jim to go home. Without realizing it, however, the boys have reached their front doors. Jim ascertains that Will is no longer angry with him, and swears not to go to the "theater" again for a year. The boys bid each other good night and slam the front doors to their separate houses shut.


The ever-growing difference between Jim and Will is highlighted by their reaction to the promises of the poster. Jim's curiosity and desperate belief in anything that will take him away from his own situation allows him to look at the poster's promises as astonishing. Will, though, is able to explain each of them as trivial and misnamed. Jim recalls his faint hearing the calliope music in the distance earlier in the evening, and the music combined with the smells also earlier in the evening convinces the boys that the carnival is indeed coming. Jim welcomes it. Will fears it. At this point in the novel, though, Jim still values his friendship with Will enough to ensure that Will is not angry with him before they part for the night. Jim knows Will is upset. He thinks it was his visit to the theater that caused Will’s anger, but he does not have the cognitive powers to understand that it is not simply the theater that bothers Will, it is the idea of maturity. Will is, of course, not angry. The boys head into their separate houses, further defining their continuing separation of personalities. Religion is again the basis of an insult, furthering the idea that a “good” concept like religion will be attacked by those engaged in base activities.


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Matter, Mindy. "TheBestNotes on Something Wicked This Way Comes". . 09 May 2017