Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Dandelion Wine, like The Martian Chronicles, was constructed from previously published stories. Bradbury made a significantly greater effort to turn these stories into a unified book, however, by revising the stories with care and by writing connecting material. He also provided a greater impression of unity than in The Martian Chronicles by dropping the stories’ original titles and using no table of contents. Dandelion Wine is perhaps the most autobiographical of his novels. Elements of Bradbury can be seen in both Douglas Spaulding and his younger brother, Tom. Green Town, on Lake Michigan, is similar to Bradbury’s childhood home, Waukegan, Illinois, and the Spaulding family is like the Bradbury family.
Readers have noticed the similarities between Dandelion Wine and Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Bradbury’s book differs in that the predominant point of view is preadolescent, so that the spiritual anguish and the problems of sexuality that are important in Anderson’s book are virtually absent in Bradbury’s. The childish exuberance in the feeling of being alive that is a central theme both exceeds the energy and falls short of the profundity one sees in George Willard, Anderson’s youthful protagonist. Bradbury presents a vivid picture of a boy’s life in a small midwestern town early in the twentieth century.
In the summer of 1928, Doug awakens to the momentous sense...
(The entire section is 772 words.)
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Because Dandelion Wine is what is sometimes called a composite novel or short story cycle, the plot does not follow the kind of development one would expect from a novel although the same characters continue to interact throughout the book.
Nevertheless, it is possible to break the book up into sections for discussion. In this first section, Douglas Spaulding opens the book by standing in the cupola of his grandparent’s home and willing Green Town to life: “He folded his arms and smiled a magician’s smile. Yes, sir, he thought, everyone jumps, everyone runs when I yell. It’ll be a fine season. He gave the town a last snap of his fingers. Doors slammed open; people stepped out. Summer 1928 began.”
In the next chapter, Mr. Spaulding takes his sons Tom and Douglas to the forest to gather wild berries. While there, Doug knows that something big is about to happen. Suddenly, he is overwhelmed by the sense of being alive and of being part of all that is alive. Later that day, the boys help their grandfather make the first batch of dandelion wine for the summer, the first ritual of summer.
In the second ritual of the summer, Doug obtains his new tennis shoes, shoes that he is convinced will allow him to run faster and farther than any shoes he has ever had before. He then opens a tablet and writes in it with his Ticonderoga pencil the first entry of his diary of the summer. He...
(The entire section is 1028 words.)