The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 4, Chapters 4-6 Summary

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It is now 1902, and the circus is in Montreal. After Celia’s performance, all the people in the audience leave except for one. Marco has come from London to see Celia. When she appears in front of him, he accuses her of running away from him. She tells him she has been busy trying to make the circus independent. Marco wants to help her. She refuses to accept his aid. She tells him what she has learned about the conditions of their challenge, which is that one of them must die. She implies that she is going to commit suicide so he can win. She cannot go on any longer. Marco is rattled by this news and begs her to let him help her find another way. But Celia will not hear of it. Then Marco tells her that she is killing him emotionally. He loves her too much to allow her to do anything that will harm her. He needs to be with her.

At this point, Celia questions Marco about his true feelings. She exposes her doubts concerning his feelings for her and reminds him that once Isobel thought he loved her. Marco says he never told Isobel he loved her. He was lonely and enjoyed her companionship. That was all. He is only sorry that he was not more honest with her. Marco says Celia is the only person he has ever loved. But Celia will not alter her plans. She disappears before Marco has a chance to make her stay.

A month later, Celia is in her room studying Marco’s journal, attempting to understand his methods. Whereas Celia was trained to improve her natural skills, Marco’s schooling was more systematic. Celia tries to understand all the symbols, codes, and spells, but it is very tedious. In the midst of her studying, her father appears. Hector tells his daughter that she is wasting valuable time. She admonishes her father, calling him and Mr. A. H. cowards for not fighting their own battles. Instead of competing against one another, they have spent their lives training others to compete for them as their proxies. Celia says she hates her father for what he has done to her.

In the course of their conversation, Celia learns that it was her father who implanted the idea in Chandresh’s mind to attempt to murder Mr. A. H. This makes Celia furious. Her father’s reply is that Friedrick’s death was an accident. He does not understand why Celia becomes attached to people. He tells her that everyone is eventually going to die.

Meanwhile, Marco calls Mr. A. H. by putting symbols on his apartment window. When Marco’s teacher appears, he asks him to confirm that the contest can only be won when either he or Celia dies. Mr. A. H. tells Marco that he is correct. Marco replies that winning would be worse than death. Mr. A. H. reminds him that he warned Marco not to become emotionally involved with his opponent. When Marco demands to know why Mr. A. H. would take so much time to train him, knowing that the challenge might end in his death, Mr. A. H. only says that he thought the life he offered Marco was much preferable to the one he might have led. At this, Marco slams the door and locks Mr. A. H. out of his room.

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