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Character Analysis of Jim Nightshade from "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury

Updated on June 11, 2010

Jim Nightshade is a daring and adventure seeking character. His daring and adventure seeking nature begins with his name. The name Nightshade, which is also the name of a poisonous plant, emphasizes Jim’s dark and mischievous side. Jim actions throughout the first thirteen chapters call attention to his dark personality. When the salesman first offers Jim the lightening rod as a talisman against the storm, he rejects the lighting rod, preferring to watch what would happen to his house if it actually was struck by lightening. This attitude highlights Jim’s disregard for safety in exchange for the chance to witness the spectacular. This is a foreshadowing of what will happen in the future. There may come a time when Jim’s disregard for safety proves harmful for himself or others around him. Also, in the library, Jim shows his dark side when he asks whether Will’s father chose good or evil, as if it is an innocent question. Will, in contrast to Jim, who is careless and noisy, is cautious and quiet. At times Jim’s careless attitude and hunger for adventure put Will in situations he is not comfortable with. For example, when the carnival train arrives Jim jumps out of bed to reach the train as quickly as possible, whereas Will is reluctant to follow the ghost train and the wailing sounds issuing from its abandoned calliope. Once the two boys reach the train Will wishes to stay back and watch from the distance while Jim wants to move closer for a better look. Jim, however, ignores Will’s request to stay back and moves in closer. This act of disloyalty draws attention to the uneven existence of Jim and Will’s relationship, Will will come along with Jim to the train against his will but Jim will not honor his friend’s wishes and stay back from the train.

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