Summary and Analysis
When the two boys make their second visit to the carnival, Jim and Will are dismayed to discover that the morning sun shining upon its tents gives this carnival the appearance of every other carnival that they have ever seen. Yet Jim is not thoroughly confused. He refuses to deny that something strange is associated with this carnival.
The boys see Miss Foley, their seventh-grade schoolteacher, and her nephew, Robert, at the carnival. Miss Foley decides to go through the Mirror Maze, but Will, without understanding why, begs her not to go there.
This Mirror Maze is one of the major temptations that the carnival offers its customers since it capitalizes on an almost universal weakness, man's dissatisfaction with himself. Bradbury describes the experience inside this particular Mirror Maze through the use of water imagery. When someone enters the maze, he experiences an "ocean" of mirrors silently rushing in upon him. These mirror oceans can be quite dangerous. Will characterizes this danger by saying that someone can never tell just what might be swimming in the water, and there is even the possibility that a person might find himself in a watery, bottomless sea.
In spite of the boys' insistence against it, Miss Foley steps into the Mirror Maze. Immediately, the mirrors reflect to her a little girl who is lost, drowned in there. Miss Foley recognizes the girl and runs to her rescue. The schoolteacher bumps into mirrors and falls; the little girl bumps and falls, too. Each action and movement that Miss Foley makes is accurately copied by this child. The boys rescue Miss Foley from the Mirror Maze but not before she realizes that the mirrors have taken her back in time and reflected her as she was when she was a child.
Bradbury further shows the strong temptation yielded by the Mirrow Maze as Jim, too, is lured half-way into the Maze later that day. The particular vulnerability causing both Miss Foley and Jim to fall under the Maze's powers will be further analyzed at a later time in the study of this novel.