Saturday, October 23, 2010

"The Halloween Tree" Chapter 11

After all the excitement and peril and spectacle of the recent chapters, Chapter 11 of Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree was a bit of a let-down at first glance.  It was a short chapter, and didn't seem to pack that "wow" punch.

However, upon reading it a second time--this time not expecting any wild turn of events--I was able to appreciate it for what it was.  The chapter gives us a moment to pause and reflect, before we head off to another strange land.  And it also brings up some interesting Halloween facts.

When we last left the boys they were running to the top of a great pyramid.  Now that they are there, the boys look through a giant crystal lens and from their height, they can see far out into the world.  First, Moundshroud points out Greece, where the boys can see people bringing food out to their porches.
"Yes."  Moundshroud beamed.  "Their Festival of the Dead:  The Feast of Pots.  Trick-or-Treat old style.  But tricks from the dead if you don't feed them.  So treats are laid out in fine banquets on the sill!"
They hear all the doors suddenly slam at once.  Ralph (Mummy) notices that the people are spreading something black on their door posts, and Moundshroud informs him that it is pitch.  Apparently they spread pitch on their doors to prevent the ghosts form entering the home.  If they try it, they'll get stuck!

Then they turn the lens toward Rome, Italy where they can see people placing food on the graves in the cemeteries.  And as they all look, Mr. Moundshroud begins to sing as his body bursts apart into a million leaves:
"O autumn winds that bake and burn
And all the world to darkness turn,
Now storm and seize and make of me...
A swarm of leaves from Autumn's Tree!
World turn!  Leaves burn!
Grass die!!"
More leaves are blown from all over and mix in with the leaves that are Mr. Moundshroud.  The leaves surround the boys and lift them all from the ground.  As they fly, they hear someone below shout "Happy New Year!"
"Happy what?" asked Tom.
"Happy New Year!" Moundshroud, a flock of rusty leaves, rustled his voice.  "In old times, the first of November was New Year's Day.  The true end of summer, the cold start of winter.  Not exactly happy, but, well, Happy New Year!"
He then spots England, and the boys fall safely to the ground.  I wonder what they'll learn there?

1 comment:

~BeX~ said...

I'm really loving these daily 'Halloween Tree' posts! I'm thinking about getting a copy of the book for myself.


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