Something Wicked This Way Comes
by Ray Bradbury
Character Role Analysis
Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade
In "Character Analysis," we covered a lot of the superficial differences between Will and Jim. Will is fair, Jim is dark; Will is thoughtful, Jim likes action; Will is happy as a kid, Jim wants to grow up. Here we want to complicate that story by offering you our favorite passage on Will and Jim:
So there they go, Jim running slower to stay with Will, Will running faster to stay with Jim, Jim breaking two windows in a haunted house because Will's along, Will breaking one window instead of none, because Jim's watching. God, how we get our fingers in each other's clay. That's friendship, each playing the potter to see what shape we can make of the other. (3.8)
Although the two boys have radically different natures, they ultimately perform at approximately the same level because they temper their natural inclinations in favor of their friendship. You know how you and your best friend often wind up having the same taste in food, clothing, music? It's no accident. Over time, we all tweak parts of ourselves to accommodate our friends. What Something Wicked This Way Comes reveals, however, is the strain a boyhood friendship undergoes when the boys approach adolescence. So we leave you with the question: are Will and Jim's differences too fundamental for their friendship to last? Or are they capable of changing each other's behaviors enough to maintain the friendship?