LITERATURE: Something Wicked… – Tension

Bradbury, fifty pages into this novel, is still setting up the scene for something quite dreadful to occur.  We know that it will be tied in with a strange carnival coming to town.  We know that Will, his father, and Jim have been stirred up by the possibility.  Will is excited yet anxious and a bit worried.  Jim is near burning with anticipation.  Will’s father seems to focus on it as if it will be a life-changing event for him personally.  He has been watching this block of ice that lay on two sawhorses in the window of an empty storefront, knowing that it supposedly will eventually hold the most beautiful woman in the world. 

The night the carnival comes by train into town, it is in the hours just after midnight.  The boys, Jim and Will have snuck out of their homes to follow the train down to the meadow and watch the setting up.  Will’s father has left his bed too, to go to the library where he works, and thinks.  He works there as a janitor; we’re just getting a glimpse of how he thinks.

If a man stood here would he see himself unfolded away a billion times to eternity?  Would a billion images look back, each face and the face after and the face after that old, older, oldest?

(…) I’ll go there, thought Charles Halloway.  I won’t go there.  I like it, he thought.  I don’t like it. (p. 55)

Bradbury is adept at creating both character and environment with his imagery. Some readers may in fact think there is too much prose and description, yet as a writer I enjoy the working with words, seeing the power of language choice built tension slowly.  Bradbury believes, I think, that the worst horror is one that gnaws like mice at your ankles rather than the tiger coming at you full speed.   

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