Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury
Contributed by Loretta Ingwersen
Chapter 38
Summary

Aunt Rose has come to visit Grandmother and Grandfather Spaulding. Douglas is preoccupied with how he can thank Mr. Jonas for what he did; he realizes the best way is to move it forward, to help others. He is glad to be alive, basking in the chaos and magic of Grandma’s kitchen. Grandma cooks dinner for everyone and as always, it was enjoyed by the family and boarders. Aunt Rose asks the name of the dish, which Grandma calls the Thursday Special; only Aunt Rose seems concerned with the exact nature of the food, though like everyone else she stuffs herself on this extraordinarily good meal.

After dinner, Aunt Rose offers to help Grandma clean the kitchen and make it more efficient, something she guarantees will make the meals fifteen percent better. Douglas listens to this and wants Grandma to resist, but Grandpa is optimistic. Along with the cleaning, Aunt Rose buys Grandma a cookbook and new eyeglasses to better see what she is doing. The meal served that night is a disaster, as even Grandma can taste. Grandpa decides that a limit has been reached, collects money from all the boarders, and uses Douglas as a decoy to distract Aunt Rose.

When she returns, she finds her bags packed and on the porch; the boarders watch as Grandpa wishes her goodbye. Grandma returns home and tries to cook a new meal, but again it fails; she is distraught at having lost her abilities. Late that night, Douglas restores chaos to the now-orderly kitchen, hiding the new eyeglasses and burning the cookbook. Grandma investigates the clamor but Douglas hides from her; at one-thirty in the morning Grandma cooks another meal, this time with the same wonderful smells and tastes. Everyone gathers for a rich meal in the wee early of the mornings, and Grandpa offers Grandma a book of Shakespeare to prepare for the next meal. Douglas goes to sleep knowing he has thanked Mr. Jonas properly, and dreams of breakfast.

Analysis

Paying back Ned Jonas, Douglas performs his second act of heroism in this chapter, restoring the "natural" order of Grandmother Spaulding’s kitchen and in doing so returning the pleasures of her cooking to her and to all those who enjoy her meals. Aunt Rose’s methods of precision and efficiency are ridiculed slightly - how can one determine the exact percentage by which a meal can become better? - but are actually quite dangerous.

Aunt Rose is the personification of the dangers of mechanization and routine, of being too precise and losing sight of the instinctual demands of life.

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