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Free Study Guide for Something Wicked This Way Comes

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1. “Maybe they’re already here.” End of Chapter 54 (page 214)- Charles Halloway

Charles first utters these words with regard to the fact that eventually the carnival will return, and perhaps not in a recognizable shape. The boys repeat the quotation. It is important because and ending point of the novel is the fact that evil exists on all levels, and you must be aware of it to defeat it. It is even possible that evil is already around us, and we’re simply not paying attention to it.

2. “Never in his life had he focused so nearly to a person, as if she were a puzzle, which once touched together might show life’s greatest secret.” End of Chapter 44 (page 168) - Narrator

One minor theme of the novel is the lack of attention being paid to important things. As Charles is dying, he focuses on his murderer, the Dust Witch. It is only this focus that allows him to laugh, breaking the spell of death.

3. “Do you really imagine that books can harm me? Is naivete really your armor?” Middle of Chapter 41 (page 156) - Mr. Dark

A minor point made continually through Charles is the idea that there is too little action combined with too much knowledge. Dark mentions this question when Charles holds a bible out to him. It is at this point that Charles realizes he must act, not think, to defeat the carnival.

4. " . . .If you’re a miserable sinner in one shape, you’re a miserable sinner in another.” Middle of Chapter 40 (page 151) - Charles Halloway

As Charles attempts to explain the inner workings of the carnival to the boys, he suggests this is the one thing people don’t realize. It is indicative of people who are not content with their lives. They believe changing something about them will change who they are.

5. “That’s the fuel, the vapor that spins the carousel, the raw stuffs of terror, the excruciating agony of guilt, the scream for real or imagined wounds. The carnival sucks that gas, ignites it, and chugs along its way.” Middle of Chapter 39 (page 148) - Charles Halloway

As Charles explains how the carnival works to the boys, he mentions this. The carnival feeds off of people’s terrible emotions. It is only those emotions that force it to run. Without spitting these emotions out of us on a constant basis, evils like the carnival would not be permitted to exist.

6. “Two lines of Shakespeare said it. He should write them in the middle of the clock of books, to fix the heart of his apprehension: ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, / Something wicked this way comes.’” End of Chapter 37 (page 137) - Narrator

As Charles is waiting for the boys, he considers the literature on evil. This particular Shakespearean line comes to mind. The book, obviously, borrows its name from the title.

7. “For the thing it most wanted were hidden in the dark.” Middle of Chapter 34 (page 121) - Narrator

As the carnival parades down Main Street searching for Will and Jim, the narrator mentions this line. It is definitive in terms of the carnival’s nature. The carnival does not crave the simplistic life most have. The carnival needs darkness and evil to survive, particularly the darkness and evil hidden in souls.

8. “Too late, I found out you can’t wait to become perfect, you’ve got to go out, fall down, and get up with everyone else.” Middle of Chapter 28 (page 99) -Charles Halloway

As Charles and Will have a heart-to-heart discussion on the lawn after he brings him home from the police station, Charles mentions this phrase to Will. It deals with the lack of contentment with life theme. Charles is attempting to teach Will that you must make mistakes to learn from them.

9. “There are smiles and smiles. Learn to tell the dark ones from the light.” Middle of Chapter 28 (page 98) - Charles Halloway

During their heart-to-heart discussion on the lawn, Charles suggests that someone’s happiness is not indicatives of their goodness. He suggests that the people with the smiles are often the most evil, and that it is an important skill in life to be able to tell the evil from the good.

10. “That was the October week when they grew up, and were never so young anymore . . .” Prologue (page 2) -Narrator

This sentence ends the prologue, and begins the story. It defines and sets up the loss of innocence theme readers will feel for the remainder of the story.


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