While walking home the boys approach Hickory Street, and Jim wants to stop and look through a window in a particular house, which they call "the Theater." One morning, they had been climbing trees and picking apples, when they happened to glance through this window and witness people who "all unknowing, flourished shirts above their heads, let fall clothes to the rug, stood raw and animal-crazy, naked, like shivering horses, hands out to touch each other." To this day, Jim finds himself drawn to the Theater, while Will wants nothing but to stay away. Chapter 6 ends with Jim walking toward the Theater as Will walks home by himself.
Will hears steps running up behind him and suddenly Jim is with him again. The Theater was closed. They notice a crumpled advertisment: "Coming October 24th, Cooger and Dark's Carnival." The flier promises to present Mephistopheles, the Lava Drinker, Mr. Electrico, Mademoiselle Tarot, the Dangling Man, the Illustrated Man, The Skeleton, the Dust Witch, the Egyptian Mirror Maze ("see yourself ten thousand times!"), and The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. They express astonishment that a carnival would arrive in autumn.
Will walks into his house to find his father and mother sitting by the fire. His mother (who is not given a name) is knitting, while his father is "holding a book but reading the empty spaces." His mother is extremely happy to see him, but his father looks sad. Will recognizes the carnival flier in his father's hands. He begins to say something, but his father, as if caught in the act, shoves the paper down into the cushions of his chair. Will tries to draw his father into talking about the carnival ("streets full of paper blowing", he says), but his father doesn't bite, and as Will walks up the stairs, he hears the crinkle of paper being thrown into the fire.
Up in bed, Will presses his ear to the wall and listens to his parents talk. It is something he does often to comfort himself. Tonight, his father is talking about age. Will makes him feel old. People think his wife is his daughter. Then he starts talking about the carnival. Outside the window, caught in a tree, will sees a flier for the carnival, and he thinks he hears his father leaving the house as he drifts off to sleep.
One house over, Jim has a conversation with his mother in which he insists that he will never have children because "People die.... I'm not going to own anything that hurts me." We learn moreover that Jim's father is gone; both Jim and his mother have never recovered from his absence. His mother leaves the room, and Jim looks forward to the coming storm. He thinks that he might climb up to the roof and take the lightning rod down, just to see what happens.
Tom Fury walks through town just after midnight and sees the great block of ice with "the most beautiful woman in the world" inside: blond, and with her eyes closed. The sight of her makes him think back to his childhood, where he has seen similar women in the sculptures of Rome and Florence, or in the paintings at the Louvre or on a giant movie screen. He wonders what would happen if he put his warm hand on the ice. Would it melt? He walks into the store.
In Chapter 6, the Theater serves to emphasize the profound differences between Jim and Will. Will's personality, dominated by innocence, wishes he had never witnessed the scene in the Theater that remembered morning. "What are they doing, what's wrong with them?" he asks, just as his father perceived that he is shocked by bad things in the world, and always looking for an explanation. Will eventually falls out of the tree, dazed, and is still afraid of what he might see in the house. Jim, by contrast, stays in the tree and watches, fixated on the scene and taking it all in.
Jim's personality is brought further into focus in Chapter 9, and a connection is made between knowledge and the darker sides of Jim's character. The reason for Jim's silence and brooding is the result of the fact that he is always watching and listening and "taking it all in." As a result, he talks less and less each year. He thinks he knows everything now. He understands that "people die," in way that Will might not. It's true: people do die. But Jim has taken this knowledge and taken it to what he thinks is a logical conclusion: because people die, it's no use making them at all. Therefore, he says he will never have any kids. If he never in fact does have children, he will have allowed knowledge to come between him and one of the great joys in life. Jim says he knows everything, whereas Will accepts--even embraces--his own ignorance. But Jim doesn't really know everything; he just thinks he does. He thinks that his cynicism and silence will prevent him from ever getting hurt, but this is not the case, as his mother knows. His mother knows that no matter how much you know, you can't control everything, just like you can't control the death or disappearance of someone you love. There will always be things outside of your control that can still cause harm.
These chapters also continue to deal with coming of age issues. Coming of age is often associated with a loss of innocence, and this is exactly what is beginning to happen with Will. His revelation in Chapter 8 as he walks in the door - that he suddenly loves his parents more for their smallness than when they seemed tall - is a true sign of growing up. He no longer sees his parents as invincible. He recognizes sadness in his father and feels almost afraid for their vulnerability.
Chapters 6-10 also elaborate on Charles's preoccupation with age. He feels sad because he feels old, and thinking about his son only makes him feel older. The carnival depresses him because it makes him think back to when he was a kid, which in turn makes him think about how much he has aged and how little of that kid is left in him. In light of this, it is interesting that Will, while their relationship is slightly awkward in person - looks to his father for truth. This, despite the fact that Will is beginning to recognize his parents as fallible creatures. Will's search for truth in his father stands in contrast to Jim's, who searches truth and knowledge out for himself, soaking in information from the world around him.