Page 132. " Jehoshaphat! "
Jehoshapat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah, perhaps about 873-849 BC. His reign is mentioned in the Old Testament in 2 Chronicles, 1 Kings, and 2 Kings. His name was widely used in a mild oath in the United States, especially in the phrase “Jumping Jehoshaphat!” starting in the middle of the 19th century, perhaps as a substitute for Jehovah or Jesus.
Page 142. " There are smiles and smiles.... "
Charles Halloway is explaining to his son that looks can be deceiving. “Sometimes that man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin.” This theme runs all through the Shakespeare play from which this book takes its title -- perhaps the most direct expression of it is the line from Act 1, scene iv, where King Duncan, who is about to be murdered by his trusted lieutenant Macbeth, says of another traitor, “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face….” But the line “There are smiles and smiles” may remind the reader of another play, in which Prince Hamlet, who has just been told by the ghost of his father that his uncle, King Claudius, murdered the father for his crown and queen, says, “I set it down that one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!”
Page 142. " ... that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt and sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G .... "


Statue of Kierkegaard in the Royal Library Gardens, Copenhagen
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStatue of Kierkegaard in the Royal Library Gardens, Copenhagen - Credit: Hans Jorn Storgaard Andersen

Here Mr. Halloway may well be alluding to a figure discussed in the works of Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the “Knight of Infinite Resignation.”

According to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, there are three stages of spiritual existence: the Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious. A person who lives at the first level, that of aesthetic enjoyments, is little more than a slave to his appetites. The person who lives at the second level may know and do everything right, may look like a properly religious man, but lacks faith, and therefore is a “Knight of Infinite Resignation.”

Mr. Halloway evokes a connection to Kierkegaard when he says: “. . . being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it and sometimes break in two.”


Page 144. " Just tell me I'll live forever "

Mr. Halloway is asking for something that a real carnival character named Mr. Electrico “granted” to 12-year-old Ray Bradbury, which he never forgot. In Sam Weller's biography, The Bradbury Chronicles, the carnival's visit to Waukegan coincided with the funeral of Bradbury's uncle Lester Moberg, who had been fatally shot in a random holdup.

Mr. Electrico not only touched the boy with an electricity-charged sword and shouted "Live forever!" as part of the show, but the next day took him around the carnival, introduced him to the sideshow freaks, and told the boy that the two of them had known each other in a previous life. "You were my best friend in France in 1918, and you died in my arms in the battle of the Ardennes that year," the older man told the boy. You can imagine the deep impression this sort of thing would have made on a 12-year-old.

"Just weeks after Mr. Electrico said this ["Live forever!"] to me, I started writing every day. I never stopped."

See also the Bookmark notes on the carnival characters listed in chapter 7 (page 34 in this edition).

Page 145. " The way you came out ... is the way you go in. "

Public DomainHeraclitus
Although ostensibly a casual reference to how his son sometimes exits and enters home -- by a secret ladder of iron rungs on the outer wall of the house -- this remark of Mr. Halloway’s is reminiscent of sayings of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE), sometimes referred to as “the weeping philosopher.” The painting of Heraclitus shown here is by the Dutch Renaissance painter Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629).

Characteristic sayings of Heraclitus include “The road up and the road down are the same road” and “The beginning and the end are the same.” The sad and lonely character of Heraclitus and his philosophy seem to describe the life and outlook of Mr. Halloway as well.

Page 150. " Amazon "


Satellite photo of the mouths of the Amazon
Public DomainSatellite photo of the mouths of the Amazon

Map of the Amazon drainage basin
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumMap of the Amazon drainage basin - Credit: Karl Musser
A reference to the greatest river -- by volume of water, by area of land drained, by length (although this is disputed in comparison with the Nile) and width -- in the world. The narrator is suggesting the wind is clearing a huge path between the clouds for the Dust Witch’s balloon.