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Free Study Guide for Something Wicked This Way Comes

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FREE ONLINE SUMMARY-SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

CHAPTER 46

Summary

They finally reach the carnival. The Dust Witch straggles behind, and shortly behind her is Charles. The last crowd of the night is still at the midway. Will and Jim see themselves reflected in the mirror maze, but they feel powerless to help themselves. Dark places them with the wax figures. The boys fit right in, and the spectators fail to notice that Jim and Will are real. Dark announces to the crowd that the last free event of the evening is about the take place: the bullet trick. The Witch hurries to the platform, and Dark announces her as the bullet catcher. Dark calls for a volunteer to fire the rifle, and under his breath, asks if Charles is dead. The Witch says he is not, and begs Dark to stop the act. Dark, angry, will not, and calls again for a volunteer. Finally, Charles comes forward as the necessary volunteer.

Notes

The fact that the spectators do not realize Jim and Will are real demonstrates the lack of attentiveness most people have. The Dust Witch is afraid of the bullet trick because the encounter with Charles made her realize that he alone is different. No one has been able to stop her evil powers before, and if he can stop her one way, she is not invulnerable. Charles volunteering is a clear declaration of war.


CHAPTER 47

Summary

A path forms for Halloway toward the platform. As Charles heads toward it, the crowd shouts their support. When he reaches the platform, Dark says it will be impossible to fire with the use of only one hand. Halloway says he’ll manage, so Dark throws the rifle at him. Halloway catches it firmly, and yells for Will to come help him. He doesn’t finally respond until the crowd begins to call him too. As Will, still drugged, moves toward the crowd, it is mentioned that Charles has no clear plan for his actions. Will, mechanically, makes it to the stage, and Charles calls for the bullet. Dark hesitates, but finally hands it to him, asking that they mark it with their initials. Charles draws a half moon on the bullet, and hands it to Dark, who places it in the rifle, and throws it back to Charles.

As Dark goes to calm the Dust Witch on the other side of the stage, Charles reopens the rifle chamber to look at the bullet. He considers the task he’s about to take part it. The bullet in the chamber is a wax bullet switched by Dark when he loaded the rifle. When the rifle fires, the wax bullet will be dissolved in a plume of smoke while the real bullet will have been given to the Witch previously to place in her cheek. Upon reopening the chamber, Charles and Will recreate the crescent moon shape on the unmarked bullet. Charles positions Will to fire the rifle. Will is still unresponsive. Charles shouts at the crowd for support, and Dark squeezes his hand with Will’s face tattooed in it. Will crumples, but Charles resets and calms him. As they prepare to fire, Charles doubts his plan. He stops himself, though, and says, silently, that the symbol he’s marked on the bullet is a smile. The Witch seems, fearfully, to understand the significance, and Will and Charles fire the rifle.

Notes

Halloway is referred to as ‘Charles,’ ‘Halloway,’ and ‘Will’s dad’ in the chapter, signifying the many roles he plays in this text. Dark seems confident that Will won’t respond to his father’s hail until the crowd starts to call him. Only with more support is Will able to reach Charles. Charles’ plan is unclear to Dark until Charles telepathically sends it to the Dust Witch at the end of the chapter. Dark tries to stop Will by crushing his tattooed face. Charles, though, simply doesn’t allow Will to fail. Charles’ momentary doubts almost allow Dark to win, but Charles is able to stop those doubts just in time to fire the rifle.



CHAPTER 48

Summary

A single shot is fired from the rifle, and all within the vicinity seem to suck in their breath. The Witch screams, and both boys wake from their stupor. The Dust Witch has fallen from the platform. She’s lifted back to the platform, and it is abundantly clear that she is dead. Charles believes she has choked on the bullet with his smile carved on it. Dark sends everyone home, suggesting that she has only fainted and that it’s all part of the act. The crowd leaves, and the lights are slowly extinguished at Dark’s orders. Will and Charles jump from the platform and head toward the maze. Jim, hearing their voices, tries to get out through the rear exit door. They stand at the entrance, and Will begs Charles not to enter. Both head in anyway, calling for Jim; Charles, though, gets stopped by his reflection, and thoughts of his age.

Notes

The Witch is metaphorically killed with a smile, and Dark suddenly realizes the gravity of the situation. He knows he must act fast, so he sends the crowd home. With the end to the Witch’s life, the boys are given their freedom. Will and Charles both know they must find Jim quickly. The mirror maze, though, holds the same problem for Charles as it held for others who were not content with themselves. A battle has been won, but the war is far from over.


CHAPTER 49

Summary

Bradbury mentions that only boys have more pockets than magicians, and Will empties his to find a match, hoping to show Charles the unreality of the situation. He finds two. He strikes one, revealing hundreds of copies of Charles, thereby driving Charles to his knees in agony over his age. Charles takes the other match and strikes it, and Will, suddenly, says he doesn’t care how old Charles is, he loves him. That seems to break the spell, and Charles smiles and laughs.

Notes

Will’s best efforts to shed light on the lack of reality the mirror maze offers only drives Charles further into depression. The mirrors make him far too old to be worthwhile, and Charles feels unable to deal with that reality. Only love is able to dispel Charles’ agony furthering the theme that love conquers all. A light versus dark theme appears to further emerge in this chapter.

 

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