Summary and Analysis
Will has a plan that will not only prevent the Witch from reporting on them but will, perhaps, destroy her. Reasoning that she cannot know his thoughts but that she can sense his emotions, he jumps up and down with joy at having tricked her by washing away the silvery mark from Jim's house. He hopes this happy emotionalism will sound a note of discontent within the Dust Witch and cause her to make a return visit. His wish is fulfilled, for she directs her balloon again towards the boys' homes. Will wants his house to be free of danger so he makes a quick run to the old, vacant Redman house two blocks down the street. Maneuvering her green, slimy balloon, the Dust Witch follows him and hovers over him like a great, fat spider.
Will's common sense tells him he can do away with the Witch if he can puncture her balloon, so he carefully aims his Boy Scout bow and arrow. He pulls back his bow, takes aim, and is amazed when it breaks in two pieces. Quickly though, before she can escape, he instinctively hurls the arrowhead at the balloon. When it cuts a wide, rippling smile across the surface of the balloon, the Witch retreats upward, wailing and screeching as she goes.
From the first encounter with Will, the Carnival finds him to be strong opposition to their wickedness. The Dust Witch, capable of feeling men's souls, senses this but cannot resist an attempt at conquest. The spider image used to describe her is a sinister reinforcement of the predatory quality of the Witch and the Carnival. This can be seen when Bradbury characterizes the Dust Witch as sailing overhead in search of "good" people to destroy. Her aim is slowly to filter out this "goodness" from everyone in the town so that evil can claim its place.
The smile that Will carves in her balloon is the first of several smile images in this book. Underlying the smile image as it is used here, as well as in his other works, is Bradbury's hope and faith in the essential dignity of the common person. He believes that person can overpower evil and can do so best by using smiles and laughter. For Bradbury, smiles and laughter derive their energy from love, and he thinks that love is the strongest humanizing force that we possess.
In the complex world of good and evil that Bradbury creates in Something Wicked This Way Comes, one should note that his characters sometimes use reason to reach a quickly accessible goal (as in Will's using a bow and arrow to kill the Witch), but reason is never considered a workable means of reaching an ultimate goal. Will is concerned with this very thing when he first begins to understand just what the Carnival represents. He knows that no one will believe him to be rational if he relates the truth about the carousel and the mirror maze. He has no one to turn to, no one to believe in what he has to say. Since reason will not work here, Will will now turn more and more to his father, who supplies a great abundance of faith.