Page 256. " Catherine wheels "

A Catherine wheel is a type of firework made in one of two ways: either a spiral-shaped tube filled with flammable powder, or a rocket mounted with a pin through its center so that it spins and throws off a spray of sparks and colored fire.

It is named after a medieval instrument of torture called the breaking wheel, on which St. Catherine was supposed to have been martyred by the Romans in the early 4th century.

Page 256. " Cracker Jack box "
Cracker Jack is a longtime U.S. brand of snack consisting of caramel corn and peanuts, well known for featuring a cheap “Toy Surprise Inside.” First marketed at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, three years later its makers devised a way to keep the caramel corn from getting stuck together in huge chunks. It was immortalized in the baseball song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in 1908 (“… buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack….”). The prizes were introduced in 1912 (the “white celluloid set of teeth” mentioned in chapter 47 is evidently a prize characteristic of the 1920s or 1930s when Bradbury was a boy), though in later years the plastic toys and trinkets were replaced with tiny paper booklets and sheets containing riddles and jokes.
Page 257. " snapped a rifle from its locks "
A gun lock is a type of rack to hold rifles. It is called a “lock” because it includes a trigger guard that prevents the gun from firing while it is mounted on the rack.
Page 257. " Medusa gaze "


Head of Medusa
Public DomainHead of Medusa


Perseus with severed Medusa head
Public DomainPerseus with severed Medusa head

In Greek myth, Medusa was one of the three gorgon sisters -- Medusa, Stheno, and Euryale: female monsters that had serpents for hair, and whose direct gaze could turn a man to stone. Eventually, Perseus beheaded Medusa and used her head as a weapon before turning it over to the goddess Athena for use on her shield.

The painting of Medusa's decapitated head on the left is by the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The bronze statue of Perseus holding the gorgon's severed head on the right is by Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) and stands in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy.

The 1964 cult classic film, “7 Faces of Dr. Lao,” in which Tony Randall stars as a mysterious and magical Chinese circus owner, 7,322 years old, includes a fairly convincing Medusa (with Tony Randall's face) as one of the show’s attractions.



Page 261. " crescent moon "

Crescent moon
Public DomainCrescent moon


Flag of Turkey
Public DomainFlag of Turkey


Flag of Pakistan
Public DomainFlag of Pakistan

Although the picture Mr. Halloway draws on the “bullet” is shortly to be revealed as symbolizing something else, a crescent moon has rich associations.

The word “crescent” comes from the Latin crescere, for “to grow,” so the crescent moon is waxing or increasing -- which is what is happening at this point in the story to Mr. Halloway’s power and stature against the evil circus.

Akkadians, Sumerians, early Turks and Persians used the crescent in their iconography.





Page 274. " like Jericho and the trump "
The walls of Jericho tumble
Public DomainThe walls of Jericho tumble

The Battle of Jericho was the first battle fought by the Israelites during their conquest of Canaan, which would eventually become the Holy Land. It is described in the Book of Joshua (5:13-6:27). The story goes that the walls of the city collapsed after Joshua’s army marched around it and blew their trumpets. Although hailed in a traditional American spiritual, “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” stirringly recorded by Mahalia Jackson among others, historians and archaeologists have questioned the historical accuracy of the biblical account. Many believe that the city had been abandoned by the time of the Israelite conquest.

This image of Jericho's walls falling down as an Israelite priest blows his horn is from the 14th century Icelandic manuscript AM 227 fol. 71v. in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.