Quotes and Themes from “Something Wicked This Way Comes”

So, as I wrote in my review for Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, I miss being in English class, man. I miss talking about themes and ideas present in literature. I love doing deep dives into books and literature and films and all topics. But I don’t get to do it much these days because not a lot of people want to engage that deep with me.

But this is my damn website, so I’m writing what I damn well want.

Now, another I noted in my review was that I had some issues with the writing in this book. Despite that, there were some fab quotes that I absolutely loved. I know a lot of people are tabbing their books for review purposes, but I primarily tab quotes that I think are good. Or passages that make me think. So, why not share some quotes I thought were exceptional, as well as those that made me think deeper about the themes of the book.

Our Excitement and Fear of Aging

A big theme of the book is aging and our differing emotions about it. We have our two main boys, one of whom is clearly eager to grow up more. And we also have Will’s father, Charles, who’s constantly thinking he’s too old. Considering our carnival has a carousel that ***SPOILER*** can age or de-age people, this theme of aging is pretty prevalent.

And in a way, we all have excitements and fears over it. When we’re kids, we want the freedoms we see adults have. We also know that, as kids, adults really don’t take us seriously. So, it pushes us to want to become older. Will and Jim see both sides of this.

But we also see the opposite side of it: the fear of aging as we get older. When we’re adults, we feel we’re running out of time or our best has passed us by. Charles Halloway reflects on this a lot here. His age is a big hangup for him. So, this theme of age and our different relationships with it is in this book in both ways.

Because of this, it makes you question: would you use the carousel? And what repercussions would come from using the carousel? Sure, it might be nice to just take a few years off and try your life again, but what are the consequences that we’re not even considering?

Quote One

‘If I made you twenty-five tomorrow, Jim, your thoughts would still be boy thoughts, and it’d show! Or if they turned me into a boy of ten this instant, my brain would still be fifty and that boy would act funnier and older and weirder than any boy ever.’

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Charles Halloway spells out one of these concerns: whether we age backwards or forwards, we would still keep the mind we have now. A 13-year-old mind isn’t prepared to take on the challenges of adulthood. And an adult couldn’t handle being thrust back into a child’s body and life once again.

We might think it would be a great opportunity to build ourselves a new life, but the older we get, the more we forget how challenging it is to be young. It’s easy to remember the simple pleasures of our youth, but we do forget how difficult it was to manage childhood and adolescent issues while we were in those spaces. Trying to navigate it with an adult mindset adds to the challenges.

Much that we might like to daydream about reversing time, it might not be in our best interest.

Quote Two

‘And Will?’ said Mr Dark. ‘Let’s ride him back and back, eh? Make him a babe in arms, a babe for the Dwarf to carry like a clown-child, roundabout in parades, every day for the next fifty years, would you like that, Will? to be a babe forever?’

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

This chilled me. If the power to reverse or forward our years fell into the wrong hands… well, just imagine for yourselves. Your adult mind, trapped in the body of baby—unable to do anything for yourself or even communicate with others. Because you’re confined by the body you currently inhabit.

Again, most of us love the idea of being able to reverse time and get back our youth. But imagine going back too far and being trapped and helpless. Because as babies and children, we are helpless. And that could drive your adult mind slowly insane if you can’t get out of it.

Absolutely chilling.

What Fuels Us

This isn’t so much a theme of the book as it is me reflecting on a quote within the book. The below quotation stuck out to me, and I just felt like writing about it. And—as I’m trying to remind myself—my blog, my rules. So I’m writing about it.

‘You need fuel, gas, something to run a carnival on, don’t you? Women live off gossip, and what’s gossip but a swap of headaches, sour spit, arthritic bones, ruptured and mended flesh, indiscretions, storms of madness, calms after the storms? If some people didn’t have something juicy to chew on, their choppers would prolapse, their souls with them.’

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Alright, listen. Yes, this quotation is problematic. And quite sexist. And there are a few lines in the book where I have to question, “is this the author’s opinion of women? Or Charles Halloway’s?”

Either way, it’s not the sexist nature of the quote that got me, but the idea we’re all fueled by something. Sure, for some, it may be gossip. And, again, while I don’t agree that women who enjoy talking and communicating are made up of all the gross descriptions above, there’s something to the idea of what keeps us going.

Books, films, politics—we all have our things that make us feel alive. And to remove them would remove some greater meaning of life for us. We would fall apart if we didn’t have something more to give our lives meaning. It’s one of the reasons why we’re all searching for a purpose.

Something about that idea intrigued me, and I really felt it the most with this line. Honestly, the quotes that I liked the most were usually big paragraphs that I just didn’t want to type all out. There are a few good ones in this book.

Good Versus Evil

Ahh, the ever-favorite theme. Yes, this is a big one in this book. With Will, Jim, and Charles on the side of good and the circus on the side of evil, who wins this game?

The below lines aren’t the biggest in the book, but something about them stuck out to me. Perhaps in their simpleness. Perhaps because some read like spells, and being a pagan myself, I like things that read like spells.

Either way, I liked these short and sweet lines that showed this theme of good versus evil. Who doesn’t love that?

‘Because, sometimes good has weapons and evil none.’

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

‘Good to evil seems evil.’

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Evil has only the power that we give it. I give you nothing. I take back.

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Final Favorite Quotation

And let’s leave off this entry with what I think may be my favorite quotation of the book. Really, my favorite lines in this book weren’t lines at all; they were usually paragraphs! It’s no different for this one.

But this section that I’ve added here demonstrates the story, the themes and ideas, and how even if we’re just reading it in a book, there may still be darkness floating around us that we’re unaware of.

We’re all susceptible to falling to the temptation, especially if it offers something that seems so sweet. Just rewind a few years—so my back doesn’t hurt any more; so I can make better choices; so I can have a second chance. But that rewinding… doesn’t it make life less meaningful? It takes away the impact of living in the now. We have no consequences.

And we all know we wouldn’t be able to resist rewinding again. And again. Until we ourselves are the owners of the carousel, addicted to the unending time.

I like leaving the book with that thought. The way this quotation flows works so well. I just think it’s really well written. And it was worth pushing through the entire book and my issues with the writing for quotations like this.

But then, thought Charles Halloway, once you start, you’d always come back. One more ride and one more ride. And, after awhile, you’d offer rides to friends, and more friends until finally…

The thought hit them all in the same quiet moment.

…finally, you wind up owner of the carousel, keeper of the freaks… proprietor for some small part of eternity of the traveling dark carnival shows…

Maybe, said their eyes, they’re already here.

Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

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