The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

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Part 5, Chapters 1-3 Summary

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A month after the circus has been transformed, Poppet visits Chandresh. She has come with papers for him to sign. Poppet asks that he relinquish ownership of the circus. Chandresh does so without even questioning why she has made her request.

Poppet stays with Chandresh for a few hours afterward, helping him sort through blueprints he has been given and plans for a museum he hopes to build. Poppet agrees to help Chandresh replace Marco. When Chandresh asks about Marco, Poppet explains that Marco had to go away unexpectedly and regrets that he did not properly resign. When Poppet goes to leave, she kisses Chandresh on the cheek and erases his memory of their morning’s transaction. After she is gone, Chandresh feels better than he has in years.

At the beginning of the next year, Widget meets with Mr. A. H. He wants Mr. A. H. to sign off on the circus. Of course, Mr. A. H.’s involvement is on a different level than Chandresh’s was, so the agreement between Widget and Mr. A. H. is quite different. There are no papers to sign. Rather, Widget asks about the competition between Marco and Celia and wants to know if it has been completed. Mr. A. H. answers that it has not. It is the first time that a competition was not finalized.

Mr. A. H. tells Widget about the history of the competitions; he confirms that he and Hector started them. The two illusionists had a decidedly different approach to their magic and often argued about whose system was better. Mr. A. H.’s approach was very systematic, whereas Hector’s (according to Mr. A. H.) was pulled out of the midst of chaos. The two men both agreed that to prove which technique was best, they would teach someone else their methods. They found and trained students, then they made their students compete. Through the years, the competitions become more complex, culminating with the complicated circus venue through which Marco and Celia exhibited their skills.

Celia was very clever, Mr. A. H. concedes, in producing a way out of the competition that did not require the death of either of the competitors. Marco, he says, was his best student ever.

At the end of their conversation, Mr. A. H. agrees to relinquish his hold on the circus and the competition—on one condition. Widget had told him that his skill was best witnessed through his storytelling. So Mr. A. H. demands that Widget tell him a story, one that reveals all Widget knows about the circus. Thus, Widget begins with the first line of this novel: “The circus arrives without warning.”

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Part 4, Chapters 12-14 Summary