Farewell Summer

Farewell Summer

by Ray Bradbury
Farewell Summer

Farewell Summer

by Ray Bradbury

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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In the deceiving warmth of earliest October, civil war has come to Green Town, Illinois, an age-old conflict pitting the young against the elderly for control of the clock that ticks their lives ever forward. The graying forces of school board despot Mr. Calvin C. Quartermain have declared total war on thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding and his downy-cheeked cohorts. The boys, in turn, plan and execute daring campaigns, matching old Quartermain's experience and cunning with their youthful enthusiasm and devil-may-care determination to hold on forever to childhood's summer. Yet time must ultimately be the victor, as life waits in ambush to assail young Spaulding with its powerful mysteries—the irresistible ascent of manhood, the sweet surrender of a first kiss . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061131554
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 188,345
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

About The Author
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. An Emmy Award winner for his teleplay The Halloween Tree and an Academy Award nominee, he was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

August 22, 1920

Place of Birth:

Waukegan, Illinois


Attended schools in Waukegan, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

Farewell Summer LP

By Ray Bradbury

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Ray Bradbury
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061470950

Chapter One

There are those days which seem a taking in of breath which, held, suspends the whole earth in its waiting. Some summers refuse to end.

So along the road those flowers spread that, when touched, give down a shower of autumn rust. By every path it looks as if a ruined circus had passed and loosed a trail of ancient iron at every turning of a wheel. The rust was laid out everywhere, strewn under trees and by riverbanks and near the tracks themselves where once a locomotive had gone but went no more. So flowered flakes and railroad track together turned to moulderings upon the rim of autumn.

"Look, Doug," said Grandpa, driving into town from the farm. Behind them in the Kissel Kar were six large pumpkins picked fresh from the patch. "See those flowers?"

"Yes, sir."

"Farewell summer, Doug. That's the name of those flowers. Feel the air? August come back. Farewell summer."

"Boy," said Doug, "that's a sad name."

Grandma stepped into her pantry and felt the wind blowing from the west. The yeast was rising in the bowl, a sumptuous head, the head of an alien rising from the yield of other years. She touched the swell beneath the muslin cap. It was the earth on the morn before the arrival of Adam. It was the mornafter the marriage of Eve to that stranger in the garden bed.

Grandma looked out the window at the way the sunlight lay across the yard and filled the apple trees with gold and echoed the same words:

"Farewell summer. Here it is, October 1st. Temperature's 82. Season just can't let go. The dogs are out under the trees. The leaves won't turn. A body would like to cry and laughs instead. Get up to the attic, Doug, and let the mad maiden aunt out of the secret room."

"Is there a mad maiden aunt in the attic?" asked Doug.

"No, but there should be."

Clouds passed over the lawn. And when the sun came out, in the pantry, Grandma almost whispered, Summer, farewell.

On the front porch, Doug stood beside his grandfather, hoping to borrow some of that far sight, beyond the hills, some of the wanting to cry, some of the ancient joy. The smell of pipe tobacco and Tiger shaving tonic had to suffice. A top spun in his chest, now light, now dark, now moving his tongue with laughter, now filling his eyes with salt water.

He surveyed the lake of grass below, all the dandelions gone, a touch of rust in the trees, and the smell of Egypt blowing from the far east.

"Think I'll go eat me a doughnut and take me a nap," Doug said.


Excerpted from Farewell Summer LP by Ray Bradbury Copyright © 2007 by Ray Bradbury. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide


On an early October day, with summer still lingering, thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding dreams that he is set adrift alone on a ship as his family and friends remain on the shore, waving good-bye. This disturbing dream catapults Douglas, his younger brother, Tom, and their friends into a "civil war" with the elderly men of the town, who are led by Calvin C. Quartermain, chairman of the school board.

The conflict's first shot, fired by Doug, fells Mr. Braling, an elderly man and close friend of Quartermain, and the war begins in earnest. A series of skirmishes between Douglas's and Quartermain's respective forces ensue for control over the boys' lives and destinies, and culminates in the boys' assault on the town courthouse tower clock in an attempt to literally stop Time and remain as they are. Eventually, Douglas learns about the inevitability of maturity when Lisabell, whom he met at a party thrown by Quartermain, kisses him.

In a scene reminiscent of the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, both sides learn their lesson about the inevitability of adulthood and death, and the futility of warring against the inexorable march of Time. Peace is declared. As Doug and Tom lie in bed, they hear the wind outside blow the last leaves from the trees. Summer has ended, and Autumn has begun.

Questions for Discussion

1. The three parts of the novel are named for famous battles of the Civil War; Antietam, Shiloh, and Appomattox. Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the war and a somewhat inconclusive victory for the North due to the failure to pursue and destroy the Confederate Army. Shiloh was a draw that could have beena Union disaster because of poor positioning of the troops. Appomattox is almost a synonym for surrender and the end of a war. How do these titles reflect the action of the book and how are the events in each part illustrative of the Civil War battles? Why do you think Bradbury named each part in this fashion?

2. The title Farewell Summer means more than merely a goodbye to a season. What is the phrase "farewell summer" a metaphor for? What other than a season are the characters, specifically Douglas and Quartermain, saying goodbye to?

3. At the beginning of the novel, Douglas has a dream—a nightmare, really—in which he is set adrift on a ship by himself as his family and friends say goodbye to him from the dock (pp. 9—11). When Douglas awakens why is he so afraid of the dream, and how does this lead to his subsequent actions in the novel? What is Douglas afraid of, other than the obvious motif of death?

4. What is the importance of Douglas's grandfather to the novel? Why does the grandfather, also an elderly man, seem to be above the conflict? Why does Douglas not include him among the enemy?

5. When Bleak accuses Quartermain of cutting himself off from life because he never married and had children (pp. 148–165) Bleak states that all of life is about letting go. How is Quartermain's problem, the refusal to let go, similar to Douglas's refusal to grow up? Do both characters essentially have the same problem, a refusal to accept that growth and change are a part of life and that they cannot do anything to stop it?

Dandelion Wine was published in 1957, and Farewell Summer is the sequel to that beloved novel. In case you would like to include Dandelion Wine as part of your discussion, as well, here are some questions that address both novels to help you direct your reading group's conversation.

1. The ravine figures largely in both novels, but is treated differently in each. How is the ravine different in each novel? Does it have the same importance in both stories? Are there any similarities between the two novels in the representation of the ravine?

2. Both novels contain a scene in which organization is considered stifling. In Dandelion Wine, the aunt organizes the grandmother's kitchen and the grandmother is no longer able to cook. In Farewell Summer, part of the reason the boys attack the clock at the old courthouse is because the courthouse symbolizes where their lives are recorded and organized. What is Bradbury saying about the power of bureaucracy and organization in these two scenes? Must this power be thrown off completely, or can some accommodation be made with it? Does each novel present the same conclusion about this power?

3. Both novels present a piece of a past boyhood summer. How are the depictions of the past summers different in each novel? Are both depictions nostalgic? Why or why not?

4. How is the character of Douglas different in each of the two novels? How is he the same? What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?

5. Both novels deal with the theme of the fear of death. In Dandelion Wine, the losses with which Douglas deals lead to his fever. In Farewell Summer, this fear leads to war. How is the fear of death "cured" in each novel? How are the cures similar or different? Why do you think Douglas is so preoccupied with death?

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