PART THREE: DEPARTURES
Summary of Chapters 45-48
The boys are marching in the parade of the Illustrated Man and all his freaks, back to the carnival. They are controlled, like puppets. Mr. Dark tells Jim he will ride the merry-go-round and become older. He will replace Cooger. It will be Dark and Nightshade. He says Will can go backward and be a baby in the show. Charles Halloway, chewing aspirin for the pain in his hand, follows Dark and the boys to the carnival ground. The boys are put with the Wax Works at the end of the Mirror Maze, and people think they are statues.
Mr. Dark announces to the crowd the last show of the carnival, the Bullet Trick, and tells the Dust Witch to stand up while someone shoots a rifle at her. Charles Halloway volunteers from the crowd. He has to shoot with one hand, so he calls for a boy to help him. He calls out for his son, Will. When Will does not come at first, the crowd starts calling for him. Will hears through the spell and comes out of the Maze to hold the bullet for his father, while Charles carves the symbol of a crescent on it. Charles keeps making the crowd laugh with jokes, and every laugh weakens Mr. Dark and the terrified Witch. Finally, Charles sends a thought to the Witch that the crescent on the bullet is his smile. He shoots the gun, and she collapses, apparently dead. Mr. Dark sends the crowd home. Will comes back to himself while he and his father race to the Mirror Maze. Charles is ready to plunge in to save Jim even knowing “the annihilation of self that waited there” (Chapter 48, p. 187).
Commentary on Chapters 45-48
The Bullet Trick consists in switching the bullets so a wax bullet is shot out of the gun, while the Witch holds the real one in her teeth. She died of fright, not from a bullet. Halloway continues using his intuition to stop Mr. Dark by getting the crowd to laugh. As they laugh, he loses his power to give pain and to control. Halloway regains his son, calling him his right hand, implying they are parts of the same person. Jim is completely gone in the Maze, but Will has been aware, only witnessing his paralysis, as though in a nightmare.