Page 105. " white rabbit "

The narration has Will thinking of himself as a rabbit in pursuit of a black otter (the wily Mr. Cooger shrunk to a child) and a tomcat (Jim), and adds that he’s “white, and much afraid.” The whiteness connotes his relative purity and goodness, but also inevitably reminds one of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland -- harbinger of strange things about to happen.

Page 110. " nicotine linens "
To suggest how old Mr. Cooger has become after his mistakenly lengthy forward ride on the carousel, Bradbury says he resembles the browned wrappings on Egyptian mummies, which in turn looks tobacco-stained.
Page 112. " Vesuvio "


Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79, is known as Monte Vesuvio in Italian. One of the carnival’s sideshow freaks, “the Lava Sipper,” is named Vesuvio to evoke that explosive and devastating volcanic event.

The photograph at right was taken by US Air Force B-24 tailgunner John Reinhardt in March 1944, during the Second World War.


Page 113. " Guillotine "

Guillotine models
Public DomainGuillotine models - Credit: Michael
Device for carrying out executions by decapitation. It was invented under King Louis XVI in 1791 as the French Revolution was getting underway, by a committee headed by the king’s physician, Antoine Louis. The idea was to come up with a surer, more humane form of execution than beheading by hand-held axe or hanging, both of which were subject to botch-ups and prolonged agony.

Louis and German engineer Tobias Schmidt designed and built the first prototype, but for some reason the object was named after another member of the committee, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin. The resulting tall, upright wooden frame containing a suspended blade which drops with a rope to sever the prisoner’s head became the premier symbol of The Terror that followed the revolution.

The description of “Monsieur Guillotine” and his apparatus in chapter 24 sounds more like a wax museum display or Ripley’s Believe It or Not, than a carnival sideshow amusement.

Page 115. " Tarot "


The tarot is a pack of cards first used to play various games in Europe starting in the mid 15th century. Since the late 18th century, however, mystics and occultists have used the tarot deck to tell fortunes, so it is fitting that the Dust Witch should be known as Mademoiselle Tarot.

There have been many designs for the Tarot deck, especially in recent years, but the card at right -- the one for Death -- is from the 1909 Rider-Waite deck.


Page 116. " Cyclops "


Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumCyclops - Credit: Deror Avi

In Greek mythology, the Cyclops were a race of giants who had a single eye in the middle of their forehead. Ancient Greek authors who wrote about them included Hesiod, Homer, Euripides, Theocritus, and Virgil. In chapter 24, a Cyclops is listed in passing as another example of a sideshow freak displayed by the carnival.

The Cyclops statue shown here is in the Natural History Museum in London.


Page 119. " Come alive! yelled Mr. Dark's mouth "
Bradbury probably intended this scene, and particularly this line, in which an evil genius tries desperately to revive a figure of dead or dying flesh with powerful jolts of electricity, to evoke the famous scene in James Whale’s 1931 film “Frankenstein,” when Dr. Henry Frankenstein, played by Colin Clive, brings the creature played by Boris Karloff to life. Here, it’s not clear whether Mr. Dark is as successful as Dr. Frankenstein.