Study Guide

Dandelion Wine Chapter 23

By Ray Bradbury

Chapter 23

  • Elmira Brown, another neighbor, is putting iodine on her finger. She's almost chopped it off cutting herself a chunk of coconut cake.
  • Elmira's a bit accident-prone. 
  • Her husband, Sam Brown the mailman, comes in from delivering the mail, and he's pretty spazzed out about some evil doings in the neighborhood. 
  • Turns out he's just delivered a book about Egyptian secrets to Clara Goodwater. 
  • And in Sam's mind, Egyptian secrets= witchcraft
  • In all fairness to him, the book did say, "White and Black Art for Man and Beast." 
  • Clara was annoyed that he was reading her book as he walked along his route, as she should be, because invasion of privacy is never cool.She spazzed Sam out further by telling him she was going to use the book to get her diploma in witchery and hex all the neighbors. 
  • Elmira joins Sam in spazzing. 
  • She runs out of the house and sees Tom Spaulding studying the ants on the sidewalk. She drags him off to Clara's house with her, because she needs, as she puts it, "moral support and the equivalent of the blood of the Lamb." 
  • Not that she's a little superstitious or anything. 
  • Along the way, she trips over stuff, including an iron dog in Clara's yard. This, she presumes, is not because she's a klutz, but because Clara's been smacking the hexes down on her. 
  • She rings Clara's bell and confronts her about the book. Clara calls Sam a snoop. 
  • That's it: Elmira declares holy war. In this case, "holy war" means that she's going to unseat Clara as longstanding president of the Honeysuckle Ladies' Lodge. 
  • Elmira goes home and makes a list of all the money she's spent on the doctor in the past year, then multiplies it by her personal suffering for a sum of ten thousand dollars. The way she sees it, Clara owes her. 
  • 1928 seriously needs a Judge Judy. 
  • The next morning, Elmira makes up a disgusting green sludge she claims is a white magic potion—you know, the kind of thing people pay ten bucks for today at Whole Foods. 
  • Sam looks at it and says, "Got kind of a fungus on it." Elmira tells him it's a winner's fungus, sucka (though not in those exact words.) 
  • She picks up Tom Spaulding, carts him off to the Honeysuckle Lodge for presidential elections, and drinks the fungus smoothie. 
  • You can see where this is going, right? She gets completely intoxicated. But this doesn't stop her from standing up in front of the ladies and giving a speech about how Clara's a witch. 
  • The ladies are horrified, and Clara wins unanimously (well, except for Elmira's vote for herself). 
  • As Elmira stumbles out of the lodge trying not to barf, Clara pulls a voodoo doll full of thumbtacks out of her purse, and Elmira falls down forty stairs.This is too much for Clara. Turns out she was indeed practicing witchcraft, but she didn't mean to kill anybody, so she sits at the bottom of the stairs holding Elmira's head in her arms and begging her not to die. She promises to only use her powers for good, and tells Elmira she can have the presidency, and Elmira comes to. 
  • As all the ladies climb the stairs back up to the lodge, laughing and crying at the same time, Tom hightails it out of there, which is probably the best decision he makes in the entire book. 
  • Never say Tom Spaulding doesn't know how to deal with the ladies.

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