Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Will enters his home, slamming the door behind him. After he opens the door and closes it quietly, at his mother's unspoken request, he examines what he refers to as the only theater he cares for now. He quietly watches his parents go about their evening activities. His mother is sitting in the chair knitting, and his father is reading a book. Both are silently absorbed in their activities by the fire. Will longs to be both close to them and far away at the same time. He worries for their safety, believing they are vulnerable to anything that might come through their unlocked door. He watches his mother quietly counting her stitches and reflects on the happiness of her personality. Will wonders what causes her happiness when he glances at his father who is seemingly happier in the empty corridors of the library. Will speculates the cause of their differing emotions.
As he glances closer at his father, he notices a crumpled ball of paper in his hand. It is the carnival advertisement from the street. Will steps in the parlor to ask his father what he thought of the handbill, but Charles looks as if he's been caught in the midst of a crime and tries to push it beneath him. Will's mother, without noticing Charles, beams at Will and happily glances through his library books. Will doesn't mention the circus directly, but mentions that the streets were windy and full of paper, hoping that he and his father can discuss the circus. He gets no response, so he asks his dad if anything new has happened. Charles replies with a joke about the stone lion tearing lose from the library steps, now roaming about the streets looking for Christians. He finishes his joke by saying that the lion won't find any because there's only one, Will's mother, and she's a good cook. Will's mother laughingly replies to the joke. Will heads upstairs and hears his dad throw the carnival advertisement on the fire. He imagines his father watching it burn. Will longs to go back downstairs and discuss the carnival with his father, but he goes to his room and closes the door.
Bradbury mentions that Will often spent nights lying in bed with his ear to the wall, listening to his father talk of all manner of things. Charles' voice makes Will feel comfortable and safe because it is easy to follow and almost hypnotic. Bradbury further comments on the sense of truth in Charles' voice. Truth, according to the text, can mesmerize any boy. For Will, his father's voice is education in life. Will, on this evening, hears his parents talking, as usual, but tonight Charles is complaining about his age. He reveals that he was forty when Will was born, and people often ask if his wife is his daughter. They move on to the subject of the carnival, and Will desperately wants to stop listening, but he's enchanted. Charles calls Will's mother "the most beautiful woman in the world," and Will realizes he's quoting the handbill. Will wonders why his father doesn't mention the handbill he burned, and he realizes that something is going on. Suddenly his mind wanders back to the "theater," and he is cognizant of the fact that he's scared because his father won't mention the poster. As he glances out the window, he sees more of the posters floating around. Will hides under the covers to look at his library books with a flashlight. In the rush, though, the boysí selections got mixed up, and Will ends up looking at Jim's dinosaurs. When he drifts off to sleep, he hears his father leave for the library.
The calm of Willís home provides a sharp contrast to the chaotic wind outside the house. Will's original sense of fascination with his parents reflects the fact that he realizes the importance and safety of his own home. His fears for his parents' safety are reflective of his own fears with growing away from them. He is, slowly, beginning to realize that his parents aren't invincible; they are simply human.
Will's realization of his parents' differing outlooks (his mother's happiness and his father's sadness) furthers the idea that Will is beginning to grow up. Charles' lack of honesty about the handbill furthers the fearful mood the carnival sets, and allows Will to realize something is very wrong because Charles cannot discuss the advertisement with him.
As Will thinks of listening to his parents, it is apparent that Will is indeed growing older. There was a time when his father's voice was quite soothing, but as the topic of the carnival is introduced, Will's sense of safety is invaded and he is presented with other images that frighten him, like Jim's theater.
Will's father discussing his concerns about age and his subsequent leaving for the library furthers the theme of lost youth. It is clear that Charles deeply regrets his age. It is enough of a problem for him that he spends hours alone in the library, leaving the warmth and comfort of his home and family because of it.