Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In “The April Witch,” Ray Bradbury readers will recognize familiar themes: initiation into maturity and metamorphosis. Bradbury’s young people, whose emotions largely control their actions, frequently struggle for rather than against adulthood.

Nostalgic Cecy, who can metamorphose at will according to her desires and needs, has a large capacity for wonder. During her journeys through time and space, she looks at the world, wonders at the world, participates in the world, and cannot look away. She yearns desperately for her innermost desire: to be loved. This love, as she has been warned by her parents, surely will destroy her magical powers; nevertheless, as a typical teenager, she fails to heed their warnings and rushes to embrace life and experience a love she has never known. At the end of the story she wonders whether Tom will love her “with all his heart for all time” as she loves him. Symbolically, Bradbury suggests that he will. The bird that gazes softly at Tom flies toward the east, a symbol of new beginnings and of renewal.

Because of Cecy’s special qualities, reality in this story is relative. To the readers, reality is determined by what Cecy needs and wants. First she flies into the air, then she lives in blossoms, perches in frogs, and lives in new April grasses. Finally, however, she embraces the reality of a teenager in love, a young lady who yearns for a special kind of love: one that will last forever.