Something Wicked This Way Comes: Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Ian Matthews

Ian teaches college writing and has a Master's in Writing and Publishing

Ray Bradbury's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' is the story of two boys struggling against an evil carnival that invades their town. Let's take a look at the important characters of the book, as well as some of Bradbury's memorable quotes.

The Book

Could you imagine an evil carnival coming into your town? What would you do? In the novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury explores just that through a band of good and evil characters. Because everyone likes a hero, let's check out the good guys first.

The Good Guys

Will Halloway is best friends and neighbors with Jim Nightshade. Will was born one minute before midnight on the 30th of October. He's pale-skinned, with blond hair and blue eyes like summer rain. He's a thinker more than a doer, and he likes to go to the library to read books.

Will has a huge advantage over the other characters when it comes to the carnival's influence: he's content and at peace with himself, especially when it comes to his age. Will is totally satisfied being a thirteen-year-old for now and doesn't want to grow up right away or stay a kid forever. He does his best to be a good influence on Jim, often saving Jim from himself when Jim is tempted by the carnival.

Jim Nightshade is Will's perfect opposite in a lot of ways. He has darker skin and dark, curly hair, with eyes like green grass. And he was born two minutes after Will, one minute after midnight on Halloween. He's the action half of the pair, often running off to make things happen while Will trails behind with words of caution.

Jim, like almost everybody in the novel except for Will, isn't satisfied with his age. He wants to grow up ASAP. He's had a pretty dark past -- we find out that his mother is often bruised and his father isn't really in the picture -- so it makes sense that Jim would want to leave that behind as soon as he can.

Charles Halloway is Will's dad. He's the janitor at the library, and like his son, Charles really loves books. He's 54 years old, and he sorely wishes he could be a kid again. The carnival's age-reversing power has a strong pull for Charles, because he feels like his age separates him from his son.

The carnival's presence does end up changing Charles, but he changes for the better as he leads Will and Jim in the fight against it. Charles comes to the realization that he doesn't have to actually be transformed into his younger self again to bond with his son and to feel young -- defeating the carnival forces with the power of love and laughter is enough for him to feel 30 years younger.

The Carnival Crew

G.M. Dark is the head honcho of the carnival. He orders everybody around, and he's super evil. He has a tattoo of every person who's succumbed to the carnival's temptation, and he's absolutely covered at this point. He's also known as The Illustrated Man.

Mr. Dark manipulates the boys, mostly by trying to get to Jim. He offers him a free ticket for the carousel, uses newspaper ads to try to trap the boys, and becomes chummy with the local police. He's killed when Mr. Halloway hugs him, as Mr. Dark can't survive an assault of positive emotions.

J.C. Cooger is Dark's right-hand man. He's a huge, redheaded man, though he often uses the carousel to appear as a young boy. Will and Jim defeat him by speeding up the carousel, aging Cooger by hundreds of years. He crumbles into dust when the carnival freaks drop him while carrying him to safety.

The Dust Witch is a high-ranking carnival freak. She's an ancient, blind fortune-teller, with ''swamp breath,'' ''stitch-wrinkled eyes,'' and ''mummy-linen ears.'' She's also a powerful magician, but she's more susceptible to the power of positive emotions than the other two villains. The Dust Witch used to be a regular person -- we see Mr. Dark manipulating her via his tattoo of her. She's killed by Charles, with a bullet carved with a smiley face.

Quotes: Age

''Watching the boys vanish away, Charles Halloway suppressed a sudden urge to run with them, make the pack. He knew what the wind was doing to them, where it was taking them, to all the secret places that were never so secret again in life.'' (Chapter 3)

Charles wishes he could be a boy again, to run and play with the boys. By the end of the novel, he's doing just that -- but it's on his own power, not with the carnival's help.

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