Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
Chapter 20
Summary

Douglas practically worships his friend John Huff, and is upset when John tells him he’s moving to Milwaukee that very night with his family. Douglas can’t understand, since they were friends, but John assures him they’ll always be friends. John has suddenly become nostalgic in this old days, realizing how much of the town he hasn’t seen and fearful of not remembering things that were important to him. Douglas claims that won’t happen to him, but John tests him by having Douglas close his eyes and remembers what color eyes John has.

The two boys continue to play with their friends that day and Douglas tries to change the time on his watch to fool John into staying longer, but to no avail. At the railroad tracks, Charlie Woodman talks about growing up to be a railroad fireman in Cincinnati, while Jim will be a printer in New York like his uncle. After supper, the boys get together for one last game, deciding on hide-and-seek and Statues. When he sees his chance, Doug orders John to freeze and remain frozen for three hours, until the train that will take him to Milwaukee is gone. John protests, and then it’s his turn to freeze Douglas - and when he does so, says goodbye to Douglas and runs home to catch the train. Soon the other boys go home as well; left alone, Douglas loudly declares John his enemy and tries to convince himself that he is angry.

Analysis

The loss of a friend is another kind of mortality for Douglas. However, this separation has always been a part of childhood: the childish wishes of what each boy wants to be when he grows up is, after all, a foreshadowing of departures, emphasized by the fact that other boys name specific places where they will pursue their future lives. The games the boys play are a metaphor for stopping time and racing against it.

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