Summary of Chapters 13-16
Charles Halloway looks out the library window and sees Jim and Will running home from the meadow at 3:00 in the morning. He also heard the train whistle and calliope. In the meadow the circus waits with the carousel and a Mirror Maze where people get lost in their reflections. Charles feels the pull of the circus but is also repulsed. He goes home, passing the shop where the block of ice stood. It has melted, and there are long strands of hair in the water.
On Saturday morning, the boys race to the meadow to see if there really is a circus, and it is there, looking like a plain carnival with children running everywhere. They see their seventh-grade teacher, Miss Foley, calling out to them. She is looking for her nephew, Robert. She wants to go into the Mirror Maze while waiting for him, and Will tells her no. He sees that “You could never strike bottom there” (Chapter 15, p. 45). She does not listen but runs into the Maze. Miss Foley cries for help, and they run into the Maze but see dozens of her and of them reflected back. They hold hands until all three get out. Miss Foley babbles about the woman she met in the maze who is lost, who looked like herself when young.
The boys have fun at the circus during the day, but Jim vanishes at sunset. Will finds him at the edge of the Mirror Maze staring and staring. He grabs him and pulls him out. Jim says he saw what he cannot tell. As they turn to go home, they trip over a leather bag.
Commentary on Chapters 13-16
Charles has a prolonged meditation on the significance of 3:00 a.m. when the boys are out, and the evil circus is being put up in the meadow. He does not know why the train came at 3:00 a.m., when the body is at “low tide” and the “soul is out” (Chapter 14, p. 42), as close to death as the living get. He decides women are not afraid of time because they live in it, and their children are their immortality. Men, however, feel age and time and helplessness. They are awake at 3:00. What Charles is awake to is evil, while his wife and son innocently trust life.
Jim, however, is awakening to the same thing, as he is tempted to go into the Mirror Maze. He is fascinated by what he sees there, though it seems to have driven Miss Foley mad.