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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The text is set in Green Town, Illinois during October 23 - October 25. The year is not listed, but it seems probable that it takes place in the 1950's era. Several things might lead a reader to conclude this fact, including the simple freedoms the boys enjoy, the respect the boys offer to adults, and the small town atmosphere that, for the most part, represents an atmosphere that is not largely present in American society today.
The fact that text is set in the fall season allows readers to feel the enhanced suspenseful mood Bradbury pens into the entire story with Halloween being involved in the storyline. The characters birth dates are significant in that they are before or after Halloween.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Will has blond-white hair the color of milk. He has clear blue eyes, and he was born one minute before midnight on October 30. He is happy with who he is, and overall, he’s a good person. He is thirteen years, eleven months, and 24 days old. Will lives with his mother and father on Oak Street.
Jim has wild, thick hair, the color of waxed chestnuts. He has mint green eyes, and he was born one minute after midnight on October 31. He’s thirteen years, eleven months, and 23 days old. Jim is constantly looking for excitement. He is not content with who he is. His sense of adventure constantly interferes with his sense of right and wrong. Jim lives only with his mother. He has no siblings and no father. They live next door to Will and his family on Oak Street.
Charles is Will’s father. He’s fifty-four and works for the library as a custodian. He loves Will and does the best he can, but his thoughts are consumed with the idea that he’s too old to raise a child.
Mr. Dark / The Illustrated Man
Mr. Dark is tall and has a pale, pockmarked face. He wears a red vest with a black suit that appears to be made of itchy things like brambles. His hair and eyebrows are also black. He has yellow eyes. He is part owner of Cooger and Dark’s Combined Shadow Shows and cross-continental Pandemonium Theater Company.
Mr. Cooger / Robert / The (evil) nephew / Mr. Electico
Cooger, who eventually moves into the other identities listed, originally has bright red hair, bright blue eyes, and lots of muscles. He, with Dark, is co-owner of Cooger and Dark’s Combined Shadow Shows and cross-continental Pandemonium Theater Company.
She is Will’s mother. She’s very content with her life. She functions as any mother should. She cooks well, goes to church, and knits quietly by the fire. She loves Charles and Will, and she regrets nothing about her life.
She is Jim’s mother. She is a sad, hard woman who has experienced extensive loss throughout her life. She’s had three children and lost all but Jim. Her husband is gone, and she wants nothing more that for Jim to return home someday with lots of children for her to love.
Foley is the boys’ seventh grade school teacher. She’s in her fifties, and quickly going gray. She’s lonely and regrets most of what she is.
Crosetti is the town barber. On the night of October 23, he smells the cotton candy of the coming carnival, and it makes him cry as it reminds him of his lost youth. He, like most of the adults in the novel, regrets his past and envies the boys for their youth.
Tetley is the cigar store proprietor. A large wooden Indian stands outside his shop. He seems content with who he is, but he pays little attention to the events occurring outside of his life.
Cooger and Dark’s Combined Shadow Shows and cross-continental Pandemonium Theater Company Tom Fury / The Dwarf
Fury is a door-to-door lightning rod salesman who gives the boys a free lightning rod at the start of the novel. He is changed into the Dwarf by the carnival because is jealous of his lost youth.
The Dust Witch / The Witch / The Gypsy
She is a very old woman who is originally perceived as a wax figurine. Her eyes are sewn shut with black threads. She displays odd psychic powers. She can’t read minds, but she is very capable of sensing things, people, and thoughts people send her.
He is a man so thin and tall that he looks like a piccolo.
A circus freak who is punctured every night to deflate and inflated again at dawn.
A midget for Cooger and Dark’s carnival.
A man who wears black tights, black long stockings, and a black hood over his head.
The Lava Sipper
A circus freak who swallows fire balls.