1. In the first chapter of Something Wicked This Way Comes, how does the foreshadowing of evil in the appearance of Mr. Fury, the lightning-rod salesman, set the overall tone for the book?
2. The use of symbolism in Something Wicked This Way Comes is heavily employed by Ray Bradbury to establish the unique personalities of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. How do Will and Jim’s surnames and birth dates provide insights into their character? Discuss the numerous symbolic references and descriptive language Bradbury filters throughout the book that pointedly illuminate the divergent traits of the boys.
3. From the outset, the sudden appearance in the town of Green Town, Illinois of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show is a cause for concern. What clues does Ray Bradbury provide that illustrate from the beginning that the carnival is sinister?
4. Age is the recurring theme in Something Wicked This Way Comes and is the ammunition that drives Mr. Dark to prey upon the vulnerability of the townspeople. Charles Halloway, Will’s father, is haunted by the fact that he is fifty-four-years-old and the father of a teenaged boy Miss Foley, Will and Jim’s seventh grade teacher, feels the lure of the carousel and becomes a victim of its evil when she heartbreakingly becomes a little girl who grieves for her lost adult self. What is Ray Bradbury saying in Something Wicked This Way Comes about the concept of age?
5. Explain the complex father-son relationship between Charles and Will Halloway in Something Wicked This Way Comes. How does Will’s perception of his father evolve throughout the book from wariness and shame to admiration and hero worship.
6. Analyze the intense bond of friendship between Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. Do you feel it is a healthy relationship that is equally appreciated by the two boys? Based on the behavior of Will and Jim in Something Wicked This Way Comes, whom would you choose to be your friend and why?
7. Jim Nightshade’s mother is a minor player in Something Wicked This Way Comes, making only one speaking appearance in the book, yet what she says has significant haunting resonance. Explain the brief conversation between her and Jim on pp. 40-41. What insights does this exchange between Jim and his mother reveal about Jim’s tragic family background and his innate character?
8. Why don’t the freaks stop Charles and Will Halloway from destroying Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show? How do you feel about the role of the freaks in Something Wicked This Way Comes? Are they innocent victims of Mr. Dark, or are they willing accomplices to carry out his master plan of evil?
9. What is the core theme of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes? Is it age? Temptation? Good versus evil? Happiness and laughter in life always triumphs over sadness and adversity? Explain what you feel to be is the ultimate message of the book and if you agree with it.