The Halloween Tree

This topic can be found at:

24 April 2003, 01:28 PM
The Halloween Tree
I am a high school student writing a term paper on Ray. The topic I choose was the children story, The Halloween Tree, but I am having trouble finding information on what influenced him to write it? If you can help in any way it would be fantastic! Thanks
24 April 2003, 02:02 PM
Mr. Dark
Wish I could provide more help.

I know two things: (1) Bradbury loves Halloween, so writing a story devoted to it is not surprising. (2) When you read the book, it's clear that PART of what he's doing is showing the mythology of Halloween and its symbols through time and in various cultures.

Sorry that's all I have at this point. My edition has neither a forward, preface nor Afterward, so I don't have any easy sources for you.
24 April 2003, 02:15 PM
The interview with Ray Bradbury and Chuck Jones in Psychology Today, April 1968, will tell you all you need to know. The story of the little trick-or-treater standing on his head on Jones's lawn, and Bradbury's reaction to it, is priceless. It's also fascinating to read between the lines and see how the interviewer may have influenced the plot. The interview says not one word about the search for Pipkin. The interviewer felt the story sounded purely educational and not entertaining. It's quite possible Bradbury added Pipkin in response to this assessment. The film was eventually made, but years later and not by Jones. The cartoon version featured only four trick-or-treaters instead of eight and is quite well-done.
25 April 2003, 07:45 PM
Okay, the Psychology Today article is titled "A Conversation with Ray Bradbury and Chuck Jones The Fantasy-Makers," by Mary Harrington Hall, and takes up pages 28-37 and 70 of the April 1968 issue. Here are my favorities among the relevant passages:
MHH: Tell me about the movie you two are doing together.
RB: I've admired Chuck for 20 years, but we just met six months ago. He decided we should do an animated film. We met just after Hallowe'en.
CJ: I told Ray what had happened at our house. After all the candy was gone, a little boy with a rabbit hood came to the door and held up his little paper bag and said, "trickortreat," all one word. There wasn't a thing left in the house for a treat, no apples or pennies. And the child obviously didn't drink scotch.
"Everything's gone, it will have to be a trick," I said. The little boy's lower lip was quivering, and tears came to his eyes. "All right," he said. And he went out on the lawn and stood on his head.
MHH: Oh, Chuck! That blessed child.
RB: The kid was a walking artifact. He didn't know what he was doing, or why. And then I told Chuck how disappointed I was when Charlie Schulz didn't produce the Great Pumpkin on his Hallowe'en special. It was like promising me Santa Claus and not delivering. It was a tragedy beyond compare.
We got to talking about the evolution of Hallowe'en from the dawn of history. And all of a sudden we decided to do a show and call it either "The Pumpkin Tree" or "The Hallowe'en Tree."
25 April 2003, 07:58 PM
(Psychology Today Interview Continued. The previous began on page 31 and this is from page 32.)
MHH: I wonder what would have happened if you had met on April Fool's Day. Tell me about your story. Please.
RB: Now I'm not an artist. Chuck is. His paintings and drawings are lovely, and he still studies all the time, but some years ago I did a painting of the Hallowe'en Tree with all the pumpkins on it.
In our story a group of children who are trick-or-treating come to this house where my Pumpkin Tree is, a tree covered with thousands of pumpkins.
CJ: Don't forget that it's the definitive Hallowe'en house, a great Gothic structure high on the hill, black against the gibbous moon.
In the whole middle of the page, Bradbury describes the meeting with Mr. Moundshroud and the action pretty much as it takes place in the book, but with no mention of the boys' friend Pipkin or their search for him. He explains how Hallowe'en originated with fears of the dark and death and became fun through "the Irish...with their frolicsome ways, and their carved turnip heads." He and Jones describe more of the story, then MHH says, "But I don't see how you can put all this in and have entertainment, not solely an amazing educational film." Rather than trying to answer or giving any indication of Pipkin, the conversation then turns to a general discussion of fantasy. I can't prove it, but would venture to say if I were advancing a literary theory that at least Ray and perhaps both him and Chuck put on their thinking caps following the interview and Pipkin was born to add human interest to the story, and if you want to quote this theory in your paper you can credit me. If my information isn't under my profile on the site, e-mail me and I will send it.
25 April 2003, 08:04 PM
Nothing to do with "The Halloween Tree," but here is my other favorite part of the interview, from page 37, chiefly for the zingers the interviewer and Jones get in:
MHH: The importance of the machine fascinates you.
RB: Sure! Who set the Negroes free? The automobile, not the liberals. The automobile came along and said to the Negro, "Do you want to get out? Do you want to get away? Put a gallon of gas in that 1928 Nash and fly!" And they flew. And they're in Watts now because of the automobile. They set themselves free, 10 cents at a time.
MHH: Oh, come on, Ray. _The original_ Lincoln was _not_ a car.
CJ: I know a southern plantation owner who tried to drive a cedar stake through a carburetor.
30 April 2003, 04:07 AM
Hey, man, I went to all the trouble to find this at a college library and type parts of the interview here. Did anyone even read it?
30 April 2003, 04:56 AM
dandelion, thanks for all the typing! But no, I just skimmed it a bit. I haven't read Halloween Tree yet (can't get my hands on a good hardback copy, and I'm hoping/holding out for a special edition or something) so I don't want to spoil the experience.
30 April 2003, 05:54 AM
Fascinating Stuff. Sooo, Old Chuck Was A Shameless Scotchaholic Eh ?
30 April 2003, 08:49 AM
Mr. Dark
Well, we didn't hear back from Jessica, but that's not the first time we have tried to help someone and never heard back. Is it discourtesy, lack of discipline, disorganization, lack of time? Who knows?

For what it's worth, I appreciated the posting. That's a book that would be absolutely fascinating -- a collection of all his interviews and speeches. If I knew how to gather and compile from all those disparate sources, that's the book I'd be working on!!!
30 April 2003, 12:00 PM
Thanks Dandelion!

The Halloween Tree is my favorite Bradbury novel, and the interview excerpts you posted were perfect.

I sincerely appreciate your posting those, because I know very little about the origins of that book. The involvement with Chuck Jones is most interesting.

WritingReptile - You should really read this story. What fun.......
30 April 2003, 04:30 PM
I promise myself every October I'm gonna finally do it...

There's another, very famous Bradbury book I've never read. I'm so ashamed...

Mr. Dark, I feel the same way when people pop in to ask for help, then evaporate once it is given. Perhaps we should ask for some collateral?
30 April 2003, 05:03 PM
Mr. Dark
My frequent efforts to get them to respond with what their activites/ideas are so far tries to do that. Before I invest time, now (unless I have a selfish interest in the topic/story/novel myself) I see what they have done. If they don't respond, or if it's anemic, I know not to invest time. I like that we can help, but don't have time to invest in nothing.

[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 04-30-2003).]
30 April 2003, 05:21 PM
I started reading the book every Halloween a few years ago, and now that my daughter is old enough to appreciate not only its content, but its spirit, I read it aloud to her. Its a tradition we both enjoy immensely, and it never fails to put my in the Halloween spirit.

Originally posted by WritingReptile:
I promise myself every October I'm gonna finally do it...

There's another, very famous Bradbury book I've never read. I'm so ashamed...

02 May 2003, 12:33 AM
Sad to say, the lack of response proved no surprise, but I'd been dying to post the trick-or-treater story and the car quote for some time.