The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 2, Chapters 11-12 Summary

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In London in 1893, Marco pays a visit to the architect, Mr. Barris. Marco is aware that Barris and Celia worked together on the circus carousel. When he first arrives at Barris’s office, he asks the architect how much Celia told him about what she does. Without fully answering, Mr. Barris smiles and says, “You’re her opponent.” Barris had not known this before, but was putting all the pieces together now. He tells Marco that while working on the carousel, Celia had told him that the illusions she creates are real, not tricks. Barris accepted this without asking any further questions, he says. Barris is not interested in magic. He merely provides the form through which the magic is engaged. Barris also informs Marco that he can trust him. He is not in favor of taking sides. He will help Marco, if requested, just as he has already assisted Celia. He has no interest in their challenge. Before telling Barris the project he wants him to help with, Marco asks the architect not to reveal his identity as Celia’s challenger. Barris promises.

Celia, meanwhile, is exploring a new tent. There are multiple doors inside, each leading to a different room with a strange new environment. Her father appears in the tent and again yells at her for wasting her time and efforts. He is aware that Celia has been collaborating, this time with her challenger, though she still does not know who he is. In this new project, she has been creating a new room, and her challenger senses this and then builds one of his own, adjoining Celia’s. So far, there is a room full of books that fly, a room made of sand, and another made of snow.

The story then focuses on Tara Burgess, who has traveled to Vienna. It is a year later. She is visiting Mr. Barris, who has set up an office in Austria. Tara’s sister, Laine, is in Dublin with the circus. Tara has become tired of the circus and is taking a break from it to travel on her own. Tara confesses to Barris that she thinks the circus has become too strange for her. She is worried about how it is affecting her and everyone else involved with it. She asks Barris why he left London. He replies that he was beginning to notice how people outside of the circus were staring at him oddly. This was because he seems not to be aging as his acquaintances are.

Tara believes there is a lot more going on, in relation to the circus, than most of them are aware of. She tells Barris that she tried asking Chandresh about the circus, but he provided no satisfactory answers. Then she asks if Barris also feels like they are living in someone else’s dream. Tara says that she is having trouble discerning between her waking consciousness and her sleep. She adds that she is not fond of believing in impossibilities. Barris admits that he has witnessed things he once thought were impossible, but he does not worry over them. He does his job and leaves the rest to the people of the circus.

Before Tara leaves, Barris gives her a card and tells her to contact the person listed on it if she truly wants to delve deeper into the meaning and significance of the circus.

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