For this post, I’ll be quoting from the following edition of Ray Bradbury’s masterful novel Something Wicked This Way Comes:
Bradbury, Ray. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Large Print edition, Center Point Publishing, 2000.
The page numbers will be different if you are reading from another edition of the book.
Will and Jim as a Pair–Two Boys as 1 Character
In Chapter 1 of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Bradbury began to explore the characters of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, both as individuals and as a pair. In my opinion, Bradbury creates 3 characters via 2 people
- Will Halloway
- Jim Nightshade
- The Two Boys Acting Ensemble as 1
Will and Jim as a Pair–Two Boys as 1 Character in Chapter 1
Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are the two main characters in Something Wicked This Way Comes. At times, each of the boys acts independently, but often, the two boys act as a unit. In my opinion, the Two=Boys-Joined-as-a-Pair functions as a character that is separate from each of the boys, when viewed separately.
“…two boys, far up the gentle slope, lying on the grass. Of a like size and general shape, the boys sat carving twig whistles, talking of olden or future times, content with having left their fingerprints on every movable object in Green Town during summer past and their footprints on every open path between here and the lake and there and the river since school began.” Bradbury, pg. 15.
” ‘I was born one minute before midnight, October thirtieth….” Bradbury, pg. 16.
“…the boys had told the tale all their lives, proud of their mothers, living house next to house, running for the hospital together, bringing sons into the world seconds apart; one light, one dark. There was a history of mutual celebration behind them. Each year Will lit the candles on a single cake at one minute to midnight. Jim, at one minute after, with the last day of the month begun, blew them out.” Bradbury pages 16-17.
Will and Jim as a Pair–Two Boys as 1 Character in Chapter 2
“it was time for their weekly jog to the library. Like all boys, they never walked anywhere, but named a goal and lit for it, scissors and elbows. Nobody won. Nobody wanted to win. It was in their friendship they just wanted to run forever, shadow and shadow. Their hands slapped library-door handles together, their chests broke track tapes together, their tennis shoes beat parallel pony tracks over lawns, trimmed bushes, squirreled trees, no one losing, both winning, thus saving their friendship for other times of loss.” Bradbury page 22.
Will and Jim as a Pair–Two Boys as 1 Character in Chapter 3
“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.” Bradbury page 27.
In Chapter 3, however, Bradbury also talks about each of the boys as individuals:
“Will runs because running is its own excuse. Jim runs because something’s up ahead of him.
Yet, strangely, they do run together.” Bradbury page 27.
“Why are some people all grasshopper fiddlings, scrapings, all antennae shivering, one big ganglion eternally knotting, slip-knotting, square-knotting themselves? They stoke a furnace all their lives, sweat their lips, shine their eyes and start it all in the crib. Caesar’s lean and hungry friends. They eat the dark, who only stand and breathe. That’s Jim, all bramble-hair and itchweed.” Bradbury pages 27-28.
“And Will? Why he’s the last peach, high on the summer tree. Some boys walk by and you cry, seeing them. They feel good, they look good, they are good. Oh, they’re not above peeing off a bridge, or stealing an occasional dime-store pencil sharpener; it’s not that. It’s just, you know, seeing them pass, that’s how they’ll be all their life; they’ll get hit, hurt, cut, bruised, and always wonder why, why does it happen? how can it happen to them?” Bradbury page 28.
“But Jim, now, he knows it happens, he watches for it happening, he sees it start, he sees it finish, he licks the wound he expected, and never asks why; he knows. He always knew. Someone knew before him, a long time ago, someone who had wolves for pets and lions for night conversants. Hell, Jim doesn’t know with his mind. But his body knows.
[But his body knows, This is an allusion to intuition.]
And while Will’s putting a bandage on his latest scratch, Jim’s ducking, waving, bouncing away from the knockout blow which must inevitably come.” Bradbury page 28.
Bradbury skillfully paints the pictures of 2 separate boys who are very different but who somehow are joined at the hip:
“So there they go, Jim running slower to stay with Will, Will running faster to stay with Jim, Jim breaking two windows in a haunted house because Will’s along, Will breaking one instead of none, because Jim’s watching. God how we get our fingers in each other’s clay. That’s friendship, each playing the potter to see what shapes we can make of the other.” Bradbury pages 28-29.
In Chapter 3 of Something Wicked This Way Comes, we also gain a better understanding of the character of Will’s father.
“. . The library door gasped open, slammed.
Five minutes later, he turned into the corner saloon for his nightly one-and-only drink,,,,” Bradbury page 29.
He talks to someone about drinking alcoholic beverages:
“‘I don’t need it,’ said Halloway. ‘But someone inside me does.’ ‘Who?’
The boy I once was, thought Halloway, who runs like the leaves down the sidewalk autumn nights.
But he couldn’t say that.
So he drank, eyes shut, listening to hear if that thing inside turned over again, rustling in the deep bons that were stacked for burning but never burned.” Bradbury page 29.