Study Guide

Dandelion Wine Family

By Ray Bradbury

Family

<em>Dandelion Wine </em>is a book in which grandchildren live next door to their grandparents, who run a boarding house in which their great-grandmother is a tenant, so you can probably guess that family's going to be a major theme. But instead of strange, this is just how things were back in 1920s America. People didn't get a job across the country as a general rule; instead they stuck around their hometowns, had lots of kids (remember, this was before the pill) and, like Lena Auffmann, bemoaned the fact that they would never travel.

It's kind of sad, but also kind of awesome—when Great-grandma Spaulding's ready to die, she's able to yell downstairs and gather the whole family around her death bed in under a minute. As with most things, then, this lifelong proximity to family is a mixed bag.

Questions About Family

  1. What are the advantages for Doug of living near his extended family? Are there any downsides?
  2. Do you agree with the idea of the family as a Happiness Machine? Certainly not all families are happy. What are the essential qualities of the ones that are? Are there any families that aren't happy in this book? If so, what does this add? And, if not, how does this influence the story? 
  3. Why do you think Great-grandmother Spaulding sends her family out of the room and chooses to die alone? Why is it more comfortable for her to listen to them moving in the house than have them sitting by her deathbed?

Chew on This

Leo Auffmann almost loses the real-world Happiness Machine that is his family in his quest to build virtual happiness.

Doug may be bolstered by his family, but at the end of the day, he is ultimately still on his own to find his way through his life.

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