Why didn't Jim age even though he rode the carousel?
Good novel but confused by ending.
I reread it a few times, but the book never described Jim aging or physically changing. Will pulls Jim off the ride and he appears to be dead, but he eventually comes around.
The only change in Jim is he appears dead, but it's not he was aged so much (like Cooger).
I reread the ending to make sure Jim wasn't changed, and lived the rest of his life as an adult.
This is really the only thing that confused me.
I believe that the clues to Jim's aging or not are presented seven paragraphs from the end of the book.
"The boys ran as tandem ponies, knowing that someday one would touch base first and the other second or not at all, but now this first minute of the new morning was not the minute or the day or morning of ultimate loss. Now was not the time to study faces to see if one was older and the other too much younger."
Bradbury implies here that the carousel has indeed aged Jim beyond Will when measured by time or physical change, but that this aging is irrelevant. What is important is that the strength of their friendship has endured and will endure even as they continue their journey toward maturity.
The idea that love and friendship transcend time and physical age is underlined in this passage. ". . . and Will laughing and singing and Jim giving answer line by line, as they breasted the waves of dry stubble toward a town where they might live another few years across from each other."
Further on, Bradbury shows the irrelevance of physical age when all three protagonists--young Will, now-older Jim, and middle-aged Mr. Halloway--finish the race at precisely the same time.
"Will slapped, Jim slapped, Dad slapped the semaphore signal base at the same instant.
Exultant, they banged a trio of shouts down the wind."
Their shared experience and their love for each other is, in the end, more important than their physical ages.
I believe he was saved by the power of love and laughter which is why he didn't die; I agree with your analysis that he wasn't aged and was OK when he ran off at the end. I also think perhaps he wasn't on the carousel enough times to be changed, or perhaps because he was holding on to Will, he wasn't changed?
It's a bit confusing and I think we're meant to focus more on how he was saved from death then what the specific effects of the carousel were.