Study Guide

Dandelion Wine Family

By Ray Bradbury


"You want to see the <em>real </em>Happiness Machine? The one they patented a couple thousand years ago, it still runs, not good, all the time, no! but it runs. It's been here all along." (13.129)

Do you think Leo and his family are ultimately happier than they were before the whole Happiness Machine debacle because they learned to appreciate what they've had all along?

These great wire wands were handed around so they stood, Douglas, Tom, Grandma, Great-grandma, and mother poised like a collection of witches and familiars over the dusty patterns of old Armenia. (14.1)

Question: Do you think this passage implies that Doug and his family are Armenian? Why or why not?

"You may be my brother and maybe I hate you sometimes, but stick around, all right?" (22.3)

Think about Bradbury's use of words here: Instead of the more obvious <em>I may hate you sometimes</em>, he says, "maybe I hate you sometimes." There's less commitment in the phrasing Bradbury uses, more reservation about these harder feelings.

"I'm sorry, Colonel. Your grandson will have to know about this. I prevented his having the phone taken out last week. Now it looks like I'll have to go ahead." (25.36)

So many people fear becoming childlike in their old age, and it's happened to Colonel Freeleigh: His grandson is acting as his parent. Based on the text of Chapter 25, you could argue that Freeleigh chooses death over living like this.

"I'm not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family. I'll be around a long time. A thousand years from now a whole township of my offspring will be biting sour apples in the gumwood shade." (32.33)

Insofar as family is connected both horizontally (think: siblings) <em>and </em>vertically (think: grandparents and grandchildren), we go forward endlessly, even after our own bodies give out.

"Death won't get a crumb by my mouth I won't keep and savor. So don't you worry over me. Now, all of you go, and let me find my sleep." (32.37)

Great-grandma Spaulding chooses to die alone, listening to her relatives moving about in the house, rather than have them stay by her bedside. Compare this to Doug lying on the porch listening to the grownups talk, taking comfort in their conversation without paying attention to what they're saying. Both are comforted by the incidental sounds of people in the world.

"Gosh, right down the main street we go, all four of us, you, me, Dad, the witch! Dad's one in a million!" (34.160)

Do you ever hear kids talk about their parents like this today? How would you express the same sentiment in more contemporary, less leave-it-to-Beaver language?

Douglas was asleep as they approached. Tom motioned to his parents, smiling wildly. They bent over the cot. (38.126)

After Mr. Jonas gives Doug his potions, Tom and his parents sit beside Doug to watch him awaken. Contrast this with the family leaving Great-grandma Spaulding's bedside as she died. 

Grandma, he had often wanted to say, is this where the world began? For surely it had begun in no other than a place like this. The kitchen, without doubt, was the center of all creation, all things revolved about it; it was the pediment that sustained the temple. (39.2)

"The pediment that sustained the temple" means <em>the base upon which the building was built</em>—or, in this case, upon which the family was built. Doug could be referring to the kitchen as the center of both home and family here.

Her hands then, like the hands of Great-grandma before her, were Grandma's mystery, delight, and life. (39.33)

One advantage of having several generations of your ancestors in one house would be knowing stuff life this. Did you ever see your great-grandma's hands? Do you remember what they looked like? How much do you think firsthand experience impacts connection across generations?

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