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Free Study Guide for Something Wicked This Way Comes

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LITERATURE NOTES SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

CHAPTER 9

Summary

The chapter opens with Jim lying in bed with his unopened library book. He is thinking how great his name sounds. The text mentions that he almost died at the age of three, and he still remembers the incident. Jim thinks about the darkness within himself. His hair is chestnut and there are occasionally dark circles under his eyes. The veins all over his body are dark blue, emphasizing his dark personality. Jim, the text mentions, talks and smiles less as the years pass because of his outlook on life. He looks at the world but can't look away. As a result, he deals with excess emotional baggage. Will looks at the world, but looks from side to side frequently, thereby not dealing with all of the problems of the world. Jim seems to know every inch of his shadow. Will is often surprised by the existence of his shadow. As Jim is considering these differences, his mother comes in and sits beside him on the bed. She notices that his hands are icy cold because the window is open wide. As he mockingly tells her he'll mind his health, she tells him to have a bit more respect. She says he can know nothing until he's lost three children like she has. Jim vows never to have children. His mother says he can't possibly know that, but Jim assures her that he can, and that he knows everything, including the fact that people die, and if that is so, there's no use making more people. Jim's mother says that his statement proves he doesn't know everything because he (Jim) is here, and if he hadn't been, she'd have given up long ago. After a pause, Jim asks if he looks like his father. His mom says he does and that the day Jim leaves is the day his father is gone forever. Jim inquires who is leaving, and his mother says she can tell he will leave because of the speed he moves, even in his sleep. She only requests that when he leaves, he'll bring lots of kids back. Jim says he's never owning anything that can hurt him. Jim's mother says he'll live and get hurt. The text mentions that Jim's mother had been hurt long ago, and the bruises under her eyes had never quite left. She leaves, commenting on the openness of his window. After she's gone, Jim leans out the window, searching for the promised storm. He ponders the idea of climbing to the roof and knocking the lightning rod down.

Notes

Jim's overwhelming sense of darkness is again emphasized in this chapter. He is physically described as dark while he's sitting in the dark. The comment is made that he can't look away at the world, furthering the idea that Jim searches for anything that will take him from where he is. Will, however, has a simple curiosity with everything. It allows him to look from side to side, not gaining the emotional baggage that Jim does. The comment that Jim is so familiar with his own shadow that he could make a model of it hints at Jim's knowledge of the darkness within him. Will, however, doesn't seem to realize darkness even exists within his realm. Jim's mother offers insight into Jim's personality. She, too, is dark. She, however, is clearly colored by the loss of her husband and other children. This, perhaps, is why Jim's personality is as such. Jim's mother knows he will leave and asks only that he says goodbye and brings back lots of children. Jim's early losses in life (primarily his father) demonstrate to him that life only leads to death, therefore he wants nothing to do with children or anything that can hurt him. His mother tries to warn him, but he firmly believes he knows what will happen. He welcomes any change he can get. This sense of welcoming change is what causes him to consider knocking the lightning rod off the top of the roof.



CHAPTER 10

Summary

Just after midnight, the lightning rod salesman is wandering down Main Street. As he stops at a shop window, he notices the chunk of ice in a shop. He knows that the most beautiful woman in the world is sealed in the ice. He imagines what she might look like, and his mind wanders back to the beautiful women he has met throughout the world during the course of his life. He wonders about the color of her hair and her height. He tries to shrug the block of ice off, but then he realizes that knows what color her eyes would be if he could simply melt the ice off of her. He finds the shop door open and wanders in, hoping to be with the most beautiful woman in the world.

Notes

This chapter furthers the theme of lost youth. The salesman's memories of beautiful women allow him to want to believe the most beautiful woman in the world is locked within the ice. His regrets won't allow him to simply leave the idea on the street. His belief that he would know her eye color forces him to enter the shop, causing his subsequent supernatural downfall. He, like so many other characters in the novel, wants unattainable perfection. His focus on things he cannot have leads him to a downfall that will not be revealed for sometime.


CHAPTER 11

Summary

At three in the morning, Will wakes up to the sound of a train. Both he and Jim sit up in bed in their separate homes. Calliope music softly plays in the distance. The boys glance out from their high windows to the prairie, and as the train appears link by link, the boys grab their binoculars. They realize the train is much older than most trains, as the engine is Civil War era. Then they see cages on the train and surmise that the train must be a carnival train. The calliope music, though, has shifted to a damaged version of church music, a change that does not sit easy with Will. Jim decides to watch the carnival go set up. He throws his clothes on and climbs down the drainpipe of his house. Will reluctantly follows.

Notes

The sound of the train wakes both of the boys, a sign of their youth. Their youth further allows them extensive curiosity and excitement about the train. The experience, however, begins to scare Will as he is alerted to the sound of church music. Religion is supposed to symbolize goodness, but the mutilated church music signals evil. Despite Willís fear, he follows Jim. The antiquated train symbolizes the idea that the carnival has been in operation for many years.

 

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