Summary and Analysis Part II: Chapter 44


The Dust Witch and Mr. Halloway are seen here in a major confrontation, the Witch playing constantly on the weakness in the old man — his desire to be younger. She gestures grotesquely at his heart, slowing it to a beat like that of a very tired old man, while glorifying youth. With life soon to end for him, Mr. Halloway quickly recalls his past existence. In retrospect, despite the vanities, the foibles, and the egotism of his life, life still seems good, and Mr. Halloway smiles. To his surprise, the Dust Witch draws away. Realizing his power over the Dust Witch, Mr. Halloway's smile turns to laughter and his laughter to a roar. The Witch is "chased, bruised, beaten by his laugh," and she flees, her "claws razoring the wild air." She vanishes, Mr. Halloway behind, wearing a large smile upon his face.

Although the Carnival will make another attempt to win Mr. Halloway to its side, for a time he is triumphant. With this victory, Bradbury's smile imagery appears again, acknowledging the belief that a positive affirmation of life is one way to stave off, if not totally conquer, the powers of evil at work in the world.

Part II, "Pursuits," has thus exposed the various techniques that the Carnival employs to play upon the novel's protagonists. Both Miss Foley and Mr. Halloway demonstrate marked dissatisfaction with their age, and Mr. Dark's Carnival pursues and exploits this weakness. Miss Foley, as we have seen, was an easy prey for the Carnival's powers. Mr. Halloway, sought after by Mr. Dark and the Dust Witch, is not so readily defeated by the Carnival. And, after an attempt to discredit the veracity of Jim and Will, the Carnival freaks march through the streets of Green Town trying to find the boys and make them a part of their show. Here Will and Jim also try their best to resist the Carnival's powers, but their successes will be short lived because of Jim's unhappiness with his age and his intense longing to be older.

Part III, "Departures," is highly optimistic in its tone. First, it depicts the not quite so simple release of Mr. Halloway and the boys from the Carnival's clutches. More importantly, however, this section culminates in the departure of the Carnival from Green Town, Illinois. Now it becomes evident that Green Town is representative of all towns everywhere. Just as Jim and the Halloways are able to rout the evil of the Carnival, Bradbury implies that, likewise, each member of every town must consistently live in such a way that wickedness and error can find no fuel on which to live. When this happens, evil will again have been forced to make its departure.