Summary and Analysis: Medicine for Melancholy
The Time of Going Away
Throughout his seventy-five years, William has always been considered a rather eccentric man. He has been involved in all sorts of antics — traveling to Siberia to corner the market in canned hairy mammoth and even making an excursion in search of the Lost Tribe of the Osseos. Bradbury's story presents William just before he is about to take off on another adventure. He is dressed in a black suit and tie as if he is in mourning. He explains to his wife that he had a premonition that he is going to die. William says that it is his "Time of Going Away." His wife, however, is neither an adventurer nor a dreamer. She tells William that it is time to stay home and do the yard work and house repairs. She has no patience with a man who fantasizes about what he reads in National Geographic. Still convinced that his premonition is true, William leaves home, a last journey before dying. His wife does not believe that her husband's death is imminent so she busies herself with preparing the evening meal. Soon William's fantasy ends. He has been as close to death as he will be for a while yet. He returns home and his wife offers a grace not only for the evening meal but also for her husband's safe return.
Throughout the realm and scope of Bradbury's writings, the idea of death often appears. "The Time of Going Away" treats this idea in a somewhat light manner. Bradbury believes that everyone entertains thoughts of death sometime in his life. At the same time, he is convinced that we have more important things to do than think and worry about death all the time. For this reason, he thinks that it is beneficial to write about death. If we can vicariously experience death in a way similar to William's, we have time to attend to the business of living.