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Loss of childhood innocence
Will and Jim, on the verge of maturity, also reach psychological maturity when they realize that things, like the carnival, contain hidden evils.
Lack of contentment with life
Several characters in the book, notably Jim, Charles, and Miss Foley, are not happy with who and what they are. That lack of contentment leads to regret, and eventually to entanglement with the evils of the carnival.
Evil can only be defeated through true joy
Cooger and Dark are only defeated through joy and happiness. Furthermore, Jim is only revived through that same joy and happiness.
Most adults pay attention to little of what is around them
Several adults in the book, like Tetley, the police officers, and occasionally even Charles, don’t pay attention to the events around them. As a result, the boys are nearly left to fight an ultimate battle of good and evil without adult guidance.
There is senselessness in intelligence without action
Charles spends most of his life reading and talking to himself without acting on his thoughts and feelings. It is possible he could have saved Will and Jim from the carnival far earlier if he’d been able to make peace with himself and act on his thoughts.
The mood of the novel is sinister, suspenseful, and dark. The suspense begins when Tom Fury, a lightning rod salesman, predicts a storm and gives the boys a free lightning rod. The arrival of the carnival only further darkens the mood. The mood becomes sinister when the boys discover Cooger’s carousel. These three moods intertwine throughout the rest of the story.