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Free Study Guide for Something Wicked This Way Comes

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CRITICISM-SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

CHAPTER 37

Summary

As the clock strikes seven, Charles sits in the library looking through an assortment of books. Charles informed the mothers that the boys had taken a job at the carnival, and he spent a strange day seeing the carnival’s sights and sensing its evils. At sundown, he had headed back toward the library, where he looked at books and pictures that dealt with all sorts of evil. He arranges the texts in a type of clock shape on the table. He feels he has little to base a reading on, for it is all so strange. He wonders what it is about the boys that had made him believe. He feels, though, he’s seen proof of the evil during his travels over the course of the day. He considers Shakespeare’s line “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” This is a though he does not want to deal with, so he quietly waits for Will and Jim.

Notes

Charles now believes, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the carnival is evil. He’d hoped his ‘clock’ on the table would help him sort things out, but he realizes it won’t. He’s only left with the final realization that evil has arrived, and something has to be done


CHAPTER 38

Summary

The boys finally make it to the library, and they tell Charles the story of their day. They hid in old barns and garages, they chatted with the police chief, they hid in churches, and they were about to give themselves to the carnival because they were bored when the sun went down and they snuck over to the library. They ten tell Charles the entire story, and he says he believes them. Will, feeling relieved, says he wants to cry, but all involved realize there is no time for that. Charles describes that he’s found a record of the carnival arriving in October every so often under a version of the same name: Cooger and Dark. Charles calls them “Autumn People,” and tells the boys that those kinds of people have nothing but the season of fall, so they do not enjoy the refreshment of the other seasons. Charles mentions that at some point, almost everyone is an autumn person - an idea that frightens both of the boys. He says that right now, though, it seems as if he’s here to help them, even if it is a bit late in the game.


Notes

The fact that Charles believes the boys’ story is another strong turning point in the text. The boys need help, and belief, for them, is the first step. At the end of the chapter, Charles admits that though he does not hold a strong belief in himself, he does seem to be there to help the boys. The story Charles relates of the autumn people is the first step in helping the boys understand the carnival and human nature.


CHAPTER 39

Summary

Will mentions that Charles has always been helpful to the boys, but Charles refutes that. He feels as if he’s a fool, constantly looking out to what see what will be instead of what is. The carnival, Charles says, feeds on fools like himself. Will feels as if it’s hopeless, and Charles says that the mere fact they’re worrying about it means it’s not. Charles philosophizes that had man wanted to stay evil, he could have. Instead he discovered love, and civilizations slowly emerged. As a result, they are creatures that know too much and have a choice whether to laugh or cry. The carnival moves in to feed on tears. Charles pauses as the boys mention how great his speech is. He resumes, trying to convey the power of love to them. He strains for the right words and the proper analogy and says that all men have women in common. He stops, and Will’s eyes beg him to continue, and it is clear that both boys feel that Charles’ voice alone will save them. Charles goes on to say that only really knowing is good. He feels they have about two hours before the carnival will pay them a visit. The boys ask who Cooger and Dark truly are, and Charles says it’s possible that the men are anyone who suffered years ago. Nightmares, pain, and fear are something they now feed on and have throughout time. The boys realize that with the carousel, Cooger and Dark could be immortal. Halloway, at Jim’s prompting, says that hurt fuels the carnival. They need pain, sorrow, and sickness. Charles goes on to say he knows this information because he can feel it.

Notes

Charles has spent years waiting to impart the philosophy he is now sharing with the boys. He has spent most of his life talking to himself about the theories, and the boys are amazed to realize the grandeur of his speech. They feel that his speech can save them. In imparting Cooger and Dark’s probable history, Charles makes it clear that evil has been around for all of time, and these two men are simply a product of that. All three know the carnival is coming for them, and Charles only hopes his message about love will save the boys. It is now clear that good versus evil will be the overpowering theme throughout the end of the story.

 

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