Ray Bradbury is not just a science fiction writer. His works are filled with deep meaning, they are sharply social, and sometimes even border on satire. In his fictional, but such real and living worlds, the author can bring any idea to absurdity, show it from the other side, identify and openly show vices. Perhaps, that is why his works are still not only interesting, but also incredibly relevant. And "Dandelion Wine" is not an exception. You can order a review of any book and not only on essaylook.com.
The Main Themes of the Writer's Work
From the very first story, Bradbury puts the problem of human existence at the forefront of his work, which is initially dramatic. A person is always doomed to choose either Evil or Good, or a self-limiting "no", or a self-affirming "yes". Ray Bradbury uses the means of science fiction to expose the "rational being" to unexpected and even paradoxical moral examinations, and darkness and light, war and peace, good and evil, enslavement and liberation are intertwined in his novels.
The hero of Bradbury’s works is a thinking, reflexive, contradictory and acting hero. Fantastic edging is often just a background for the development of purely human dramas.
Another leading theme of the author is dehumanization of society in the era of the global invasion of "machines." The theme of "machine" is reflected in almost every work of the writer, including the novel "Dandelion Wine" in fairy-tale and parable perception.
A person in the world of Ray Bradbury is not confronted so much with the nature that spawned him or her, but with his or her own alienated Other. The clash is sometimes dramatic to the degree that people cannot stand it. Captivated by fear and illusion, they surrender to the Other and, step by step, lose their economic, political and spiritual freedom, radically changing the original immediate ("childish") attitude to being, to their neighbor, to themselves.
According to Bradbury, people are not weaker than technical or social monsters generated by them, so that the future can be controlled by the human mind, goodwill. However, the struggle between good and evil will continue for a long time. And Bradbury does not turn a blind eye to the fact that the evil multiplied by Machine can destroy the whole world now. Only morality can prevent this misfortune, trample the evil of creation with the moral feat of the creator. This is the thought of Bradbury, which permeates many of his works.
Thinking of "eternal themes" of human existence, in his works, the writer artistically proves the need for human integrity, arising in the continuous struggle of opposites. And such integrity is maintained in the purposeful act, is recreated by the labor of the soul. The will to work represents the core of a personality. Ray Bradbury identifies labor with love.
The seal of integrity, the glorification of life, work and love turn his fantasy into "absolute realism", in the words of the writer himself. All miracles and machines described by him are symbols of human possibilities, the means of testing human dignity. And his extreme realism is an emotional and spiritual preparation for stresses of the atomic-cosmic age.
The creative energy of the author generates images of completely unexpected but dynamic, involved in the struggle of intertwined opposites.
Often Bradbury chooses children as his heroes, who are characterized by the immediacy of the vision, the purity of perception, innocence. The country of childhood is contrasted to adults in a mechanized bourgeois society with its rationalism and insensitivity. The writer has a special interest in psychology, in revealing the inner world of a growing personality.
Young Bradbury heroes are not always clean and open. They can act in an ominous role, be scary and cruel. This is a consequence of social decay, general alienation. But even in the realm of cruelty, the writer leaves room for kindness and generosity.
In the novel "Dandelion Wine", all children's characters perform positive roles. In fact, with the exception of the Lonely One, there are no really negative heroes at all: superstitious Elmira at the end of a verbal duel reconciles with Miss Goodwater; Aunt Rosa is only trying to restore order in her grandmother's kitchen, guided by good wishes and not wanting to lose the taste of food; no one wants evil, everyone in the town lives a harmonious life, which is only broken by death. But this is also enough. It is death that appears in the novel as the greatest, the only real evil.
The Image of Douglas Spaulding
"Dandelion Wine" combines features of autobiographical prose and a lyrical poetic fairy tale-parable, in which iconic parables are arranged: about the Machine of Happiness – the invention of Leo Auffmann, about the Time Machine – Colonel Freeleigh, about the Green Machine – three sisters, about the old age of Mrs. Bentley, about the lawnmower of Douglas’ grandfather, about the sorcery – the contest between Mrs. Goodwater and Elmira, about the Tarot Witch from slot machines and her abduction, about the Lonely One, about the junkie Jonas, about the belated in time love of ninety-five-year-old Miss Loomis and Mr. Forrester and others.
The story in the novel is conducted in three plans. The first is funny and sad adventures of the protagonist Douglas in the summer of 1928, initial impressions of the teenager from communicating with the world of people and nature. The boy keeps a diary of events, having expressively defined their essence for himself: "Ordinary affairs and events", "Discoveries and revelations".
The second plan is a picture of the life of the provincial Green Town, a green American town of the 1920s and its past, transmitted in the memoirs of Colonel Freeleigh, Miss Helen Loomis, Mrs. Bentley and other characters. The image of the past is associated with vivid images of the elderly – the custodians of family, tribal and social memory (above all, this is the grandmother, the great-grandmother, the grandfather of Douglas).
The third plan is reflections of the adult narrator about the heroes of the book, about childhood, about time and about nature.
More precisely, the writer draws here not so much the inner world of the child as the world seen by his eyes, unlike the adult world, in which everything is clearly fixed and unambiguous. This world is bright, mobile, sometimes incomprehensible, unpredictable, which overflows, shakes, changes along with the growing child.
Despite the very real, even autobiographical basis of the narrative, the novel belongs to a fantasy genre in its romantic concept. True fiction should not destroy the miraculous, but make it come into contact with our inner world.
At the sight of such a fantasy, person's secret desires awaken, the hidden movements of the soul become clearer ... However, the "secret" does not mean only the unknown. The highest secret is in the universe itself, in its organization. It becomes available when there is a kind of "harmony" or understanding, a contact between the soul of a human and the universe. For such a contact, it is necessary, of course, to have a special relation to the miracle as to something that really exists in our life.
Fiction is not only a prediction of the future of science and technology, but also a fairy tale, and something more. It is not necessarily distant planets, fantastic monsters, but also the most real things, perceived so that it all seems like a miracle, something real and unreal at the same time.
This angle of view, a slightly detached view of an observer, helps better see life and what is most significant in it. By Bradbury, this angle of view becomes possible through the observation of some insignificant at first glance everyday details that expand consciousness, organically grow to the symbol of universal values. You can bring any scene or plot episode of the novel under this characteristic, even Douglas’ tennis shoes, grandfather's lawnmower, Mr. Tridden's tram, street noise for dying Colonel Freeleigh from the window of a distant Mexican city, audible through the telephone, and ice cream of Helen Loomis, etc. – all this is closely related to the vital values that help a person find an individual in himself or herself, to better know his or her spirit, the world, unrealized possibilities. The main thing that makes a person individual is, according to Bradbury's firm conviction, good. It lies at the heart of his novel "Dandelion Wine", making up one of the greatest values, the greatest miracle in life, giving the gray everydayness a little fairy, making it kinder and lighter.