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Dandelion Wine – Chapters Thirty-two and Thirty-three

Chapter thirty-two could be titled “Good-by, Grandma”. Douglas’ great-grandma, after countless years of assisting her family, feels that her time is expiring with a growing tiredness. She lies down in her bed amidst the protests of her relatives, waiting for her death. When Douglas asks her who’s going to do all the chores she did around the house, she says that they belong to anyone who wants them, and reminds him that she will not truly be dead in his mind. As her family leaves her to rest alone, she returns to the dream she was in before she was born, dying happily and peacefully.

In chapter thirty-three Douglas, disillusioned by the recent deaths and losses and by the light of a multitude of fireflies, writes for a long time on the shortcomings of things and people, associating them mainly with breaking down (machines) or death (people). He seems to be on the verge of a great revelation as he quickly scribbles at the end a summary of the dark side of his summer experience:

“So if trolleys and runabouts and friends and near friends can go away for a while or go away forever, or rust, or fall apart or die, and if people can be murdered, and if someone like great-grandma, who was going to live forever, can die…if all of this is true…then…I, Douglas Spaulding, some day, must…”

However, the fireflies’ light has gone out, so Douglas stops writing and releases the fireflies into the night. He then tries to fall asleep.


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