Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 563
The prologue begins with a scene set towards the end of the book as the Wicked Witch of the West looks down from a mile above Oz on Dorothy and her traveling companions. She sees them maneuvering toward the Emerald City along the Yellow Brick Road, which has become buckled and broken at certain sections as a result of both winter storms and agitators tearing up the road.
Not sure of what she plans to do, the Witch flies down and creeps quietly towards the group, hiding herself behind a tree as she eavesdrops on their conversation. From there, she can finally make out the companions: a huge Cat of some sort, perhaps a Lion; a Tin Woodman; and an animated Scarecrow. She also sees that the girl is carrying a dog.
From their conversation, the reader is introduced to some of the questions that will permeate the novel, both in regards to the Witch’s character and the notion of evil itself. The Lion states some of the pervading rumors: “Psychologically warped; possessed by demons. Insane. Not a pretty picture.” The Tin Woodman adds another juicy tidbit: “She was castrated at birth. . . . She was born hermaphroditic, or maybe entirely male.” All of these rumors are among those that the Witch must face throughout her life.
As the Lion and Tin Woodman continue, however, they both offer more sympathetic views based on their own tragic experiences, positing that perhaps the Witch is the way she is because she was deprived of a mother’s love, was an abused child, was addicted to medication for her skin condition, was unlucky in love, was the spurned lover of a married man, or even that she preferred the company of other women. All of these possibilities introduce the question of why a person might become evil. Perhaps they are not born that way; perhaps they become that way as a result of the circumstances of life.
While the Lion soon returns to his contention that the Witch is a “despot . . . (and) a dangerous tyrant,” the Tin Woodman mentions that he has heard she is “a champion of home rule for the so-called Winkies.” This news offers some insight into her more compassionate side. The Witch’s passionate political interests, concerns, and actions will become more evident as the action of the book gets underway.
It is Dorothy, however, who ultimately states, “Whoever she is, she must surely be grieving the death of her sister.” At her words and her sincere tone, the Witch’s skin begins to crawl. When she tries to get a better look at Dorothy, she sees that she is a “good-size farm girl, dressed in blue-and-white checks and a pinafore.” Dorothy soon expresses her concerns about an approaching storm, and the group quickly leaves to find a safer shelter. As they depart, the Witch sees the shoes—“her sister’s shoes . . . (sparkling) like yellow diamonds and embers of bloods.”
At the sight, the Witch’s determination to attack Dorothy is renewed because she is adamant about having the shoes. However, the rain begins to fall and as the Witch cannot endure water on her skin, she has to hide from the storm. She promises herself, however, that this is not over: the shoes will be hers. Dorothy and her companions have not seen the last of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 472
This first chapter opens with Melena Thropp, a woman originally born to privilege and now the wife of a unionist cleric in the outback Munchkinland district of Wend Hardings, announcing that she thinks she will give birth that day to the child she is expecting. Her husband Frex (Frexspar the Godly) teasingly encourages her to exert some self-control if possible, for this is a “perverse and inconvenient time” for the baby to be born since he is preparing to head out to deal with a “community problem” that has arisen near his parish of Rush Margins.
As Frex attends to his appearance, knowing that “a handsome priest attract(s) more penitents than a homely one,” Melena prepares breakfast in the kitchen and sings a song she learned as a child from her Nanny, who helped to raise her. She imagines she hears the child inside her singing with happiness; she knows it will be a singing child, and she expects it to be a boy.
Frex is not nearly as happy as his wife. He takes from its hiding place a report sent to him by another minister in the nearby village of Three Dead Trees. He does not want his wife to see the report because he does not want her to go with him on his mission. He also begins practicing his speech as Melena listens on, one in which he warns: “Idolatry looms. Traditional values in jeopardy. Truth under siege and virtue abandoned.”
Frex stands as a protector of tradition against the violence and magic that seem to be invading the land. He says to Melena he hopes she will not be angry with him for leaving her on this day, but his holy work will not wait and “there will be other children.” At this she becomes angry—but she also knows she loves him for his intensity.
Melena’s anger at Frex does not last, but she is upset again when he warns her that the devil is coming. He says this in reference to the report he has just read, but she does not like hearing these words on the day she is about to give birth. Frex clarifies his words, then shares his concerns that his crowd of followers will turn their backs on him and on their worship of the Unnamed God and instead turn to the “razzle-dazzle spectacle of idolatry.”
He worries he will return a failure, although he must admit to himself that “to fail in the cause of a high moral concern (is) satisfying to him.” As he departs, he wishes Melena well, but she sees he is already wearing his stern public expression. She tells him “to try not to be killed,” then rushes out to the Outhouse, frustrated at his self-righteousness and not wanting to watch him ride away.
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Out of concern for his wife, Frex stops at a fisherman’s hut on his way to Rush Margins to ask if one or two of the local women can stay with his expectant wife. His wife is not one of the local favorites because of her upper class mannerisms and expectations, but the fisherman consents and Frex gratefully rides off.
He then pulls out two letters from his pocket, both written by a distant cousin who is also a minister. The first letter describes a contraption called “the Clock of the Time Dragon,” a theater of sorts with a moving clockwork dragon on top. The contraption features many puppets, marionettes, and figurines in its various doorways, windows, and porches, all “caricatures of peasants and royalty alike.” The puppets even poke fun at unionist saints.
As he reads, Frex wonders again who is behind this Time Dragon, “this fake oracle, this propaganda tool for wickedness that challenge(s) the power of unionism and of the Unnamed God.” The clock is accompanied by a dwarf and his helpers, but beyond that its origin is a mystery.
The second letter warns that the clock is on its way to Rush Margins. It also tells a more specific story of the troubles caused by this contraption. During one recent show, the curtains opened to show a puppet husband and wife; as the wife slept, the puppet husband sneaked out of bed. Before continuing with the story, the Dragon turned on its base and indicated three individuals in the crowd—one a faithful but inattentive husband, the others a widow and her daughter. The crowd immediately backed away from these three, and the “puppet show” continued.
The puppet husband met up with a puppet widow and her daughter and then proceeded to have sex with both of them at the same time—having, somehow, “two full sets of male goods.” After finishing their glee-filled act, the puppet widow and her daughter kissed the adulterous husband, then kneed him on both sides before running away.
In the audience, the three individuals who had been singled out felt mortified. The daughter disappeared and, at the time of the letter’s writing, had still not been found. The widow was shunned. The husband was attacked that night by his neighbors but fortunately was not killed. The letter concludes with the cousin expressing his concern about how all of their souls have been affected by witnessing the spectacle.
Frex worries what will happen when the Clock of the Time Dragon arrives in Rush Margins. He wants to be there to speak against it, to try to keep his congregation from falling prey to the so-called “pleasure faith.” He knows he faces a tough battle, though, as the traditional unionist faith has been eroding as a result of the ongoing drought.
Despite his fears and concerns, he travels on, counting on his congregation’s loyalty to keep them from turning away. After all, he believes they owe him for all he has given them as their minister—including his frequently leaving Melena alone in the minister’s lodge for weeks at a time as he goes about his life’s work.
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By evening, Frex works up the courage to enter Rush Margins and begin preaching against the Clock of the Time Dragon. The crowd, made up of many of the members of his congregation, “all (look) guilty as sin” even before be begins condemning them for their eagerness about the clock’s arrival.
After just a few words of warning, the mayor of Rush Margins, Bfee, speaks for the crowd when he says, “Could you perhaps tone down your harangue until we get a chance to see what fresh new form temptation might take?” When Frex responds that they don’t have the strength to withstand such temptation, Bfee says he needs to give them the chance to prove themselves against sin. Frex glowers at this, but soon everyone’s attention is turned to the noise down the road.
The crowd watches as the clock approaches, pulled by four horses and escorted by the dwarf and his gang. Before anyone can say anything, Frex jumps onto the contraption and begins criticizing it, pointing out that the “clock” is not even a clock—it’s just a “tiktok-y business” with the hands frozen at one minute before midnight.
When he asks the crowd why they do not use a real clock, he answers his own question: “The answer, of course, is that the clock isn’t meant to measure earthly time, but the time of the soul. Redemption and condemnation time. For the soul, each instant is always a minute short of judgment.”
Frex’s warnings are silenced when the show begins and he is pulled off his perch. Soon, the dwarf appears and addresses the crowd, claiming that “the Time Dragon sees before and beyond and within the truth of your sorry span of years here” and urging them to watch what it shows them.
The clock soon unfolds a story of “a publicly pious man . . . who preache(s) simplicity, poverty, and generosity while keeping a hidden coffer of gold and emeralds—in the double-hinged bosom of a weak-chinned daughter of blue blood society.” The story ends with the man being run through and killed with a long iron stake and served up to his hungry flock.
Frex knows he is in danger, but there is not much he can do. Soon he is being kneed and kicked, and he doubles over in pain. Finally a sympathetic woman helps him out of the crowd and hides him in her root cellar, telling him to stay there until morning. When he expresses his worries about Melena, the woman promises to make sure she is safe.
Meanwhile Melena is in labor, struggling to deliver her baby with the help of a fishwife and an old crone. The woman from Rush Margins arrives to warn them that they need to move Melena quickly—that the clock said to kill Frex as well as Melena and the “little dragon she’s going to give birth to.” The women consider running away to save themselves but ultimately do the right thing and transfer Melena onto a hay cart, wheeling her away from the house just before the men arrive from town.
The women stop at the edge of a graveyard for unconsecrated corpses, where they see that the dwarf has left the clock for safekeeping. The maiden from town informs them that the dwarf and his helpers are drinking in the tavern, so they drag Melena into the clock to have her baby.
In the morning, amidst a downpour of rain, Melena gives birth to a daughter who “glisten(s) a scandalous shade of pale emerald,” does not cry as most newborns do, and has a strange bit of dried organic matter at the meeting of her thighs that at first confuses the women, making them think she is a boy rather than a girl. However, they are able to wipe the matter away and see she is actually “prettily formed,” if not for the green skin.
The women debate what they should do, thinking that the kindest action would be to drown the baby before Melena awakes. Soon the child yawns, and the fishwife sticks her finger in the baby’s mouth to let her suck on it. They are all shocked when the baby bites off the tip of the fishwife’s finger, and they discover that the baby has razor sharp teeth. This makes them afraid to carry out a “mercy murder,” so instead they leave the baby with the sleeping Melena—her first drink having been blood instead of milk. The baby is left to “(stare) overhead at the oiled and regular teeth of time’s clock.”
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 790
With the clock’s departure, life in Rush Margins returns mostly to normal. Melena, however, for many days cannot bear to look at her daughter. Not only is she not the son she had expected, but she is undeniably green. Not knowing what else to do, she sends to Colwen Grounds for Nanny to come out of retirement to help her.
Frex goes to pick up Nanny from the station and on the way back, Nanny asks him what is wrong. Rather than stating the most obvious, Frex babbles on about the nature of evil and the absence of the Unnamed God creating a vortex through which “spiritual poison” must rush. When pushed further, he says the baby is “damaged.” His first complaint is that it is a girl—but at this, Nanny is actually pleased. It means “the family title’s preserved for another generation,” for the title of Eminent Thropp passes through the female line. In fact Melena is next in line, but she has cut herself off from her family and from her grandfather, who currently holds the title.
Finally Frex admits the truth: the child is green, which he clearly sees as a punishment for some evil act. Nanny tries to encourage him, saying she will find a solution to this problem. She then asks the baby’s name. “Elphaba,” he replies, “after Saint Aelphaba of the Waterfall.”
As they pass through Wend Hardings, Nanny is struck by the poverty of the district, for “the country (is) filthy, depressed, peasant-ridden.” When she arrives, she wants to greet the baby first, which is not a problem because Melena is once again out cold from the the pinlobble leaves to which she has become addicted. Nanny sees that the baby’s mouth and ears are strapped with a sling to keep her from biting herself or others. She is also struck by how well the baby is able to track her with her eyes, seeming to watch and understand everything even though she is only a few weeks old.
Despite her own revulsion, Nanny picks up and holds Elphaba—the first actually to do so. She rubs the baby to calm her, singing to her softly at the same time. Finally Melena wakes up, and Nanny brings her some tea and bread. Nanny tells Melena she is willing to be stay and help but that Melena is going to have to be honest with her about everything.
Nanny sets to work trying to figure out why Elphaba is green. First she questions Frex, who insists there is no green in his family background. He does admit, however, to feeling somewhat responsible—he recalls how on the day of Elphaba’s birth he announced that the devil was coming. He thinks that somehow he cursed the child. Even more, at his deepest level, he “fear(s) the child’s abnormality (is) a punishment for his failure to protect his flock from the pleasure faith,” but he does not share this with Nanny. Nanny suggests that perhaps an exorcism might help turn Elphaba’s skin to a normal hue, so Frex sets out to prepare for one.
In the meantime, Nanny questions Melena and bluntly asks her if someone else could be the father. At first Melena calls her “mad,” but she finally admits to how lonely she gets when Frex leaves her alone for weeks at a time—and how, to deal with the loneliness, she started chewing on the pinlobble leaves as a means of escape and often would not remember much when she woke up. She also says that sometimes she would entertain passersby.
Finally she answers that the truth is “unknowable” because even she does not know the answer. She then tells the story of “a tinker with a funny accent (who) gave (her) a draft of some heady brew from a green glass bottle.” The drink, she recalls, caused her to have “rare expansive dreams . . . of the Other World.”
She cannot remember whether she slept with this tinker or not—thus she is not sure whether he is the father of Elphaba. When Nanny later searches through Melena’s medicine cabinet, she finds the green bottle, but the only words she can make out are “MIRACLE ELIXIR.”
After this, the group tries various means of changing Elphaba’s skin color, including the exorcism and baths in cow’s milk (since Elphaba squirms away from baths in water). Nothing works. Finally Nanny suggests sorcery, at which Frex lashes out in a rage. Believing there is nothing more that she can do and not wanting to live out the rest of her life “with a fanatical hermit and ruined baby,” Nanny leaves to return to Colwen Grounds.
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The chapter picks up when Elphaba is a year and a half old. For one brief month the drought lifts and the spring weather leads Melena to enjoy time outdoors. By this time Elphaba no longer has to wear the chin sling, and she and her mother pay more attention to each other; Melena even sometimes finds her daughter endearing. She resents, however, that Frex has left her alone for most of the winter with only Elphaba for company. As she dances around the yard, drunk on wine and leaves, her breasts uncovered, she tells Elphaba her father is a “fraud” and a “charlatan,” and she longs for her old way of life.
Amid this display Elphaba gestures to the gate, where they see a man “leaning, shy and hungry-looking, with skin the color of roses at twilight.” He explains in rather scrambled words that he has crossed the hills from Downhill Cornings looking for the inn at Three Dead Trees and has become lost. Melena invites him to stay for a meal and tell them his story.
The man, Melena learns, is a glassblower named Turtle Heart from Ovvels in little-known Quadling Country. As he talks, he unbuckles Elphaba from her harness and without flinching begins tossing her in the air. Elphaba likes him immediately. He tells Melena, who has never met a Quadling, about life in the outreaches of Ovvels—“the houses rotting gently into the swamp, the harvest of snails and murkweed, the customs of communal living and ancestor worship.” As he speaks, Melena is mesmerized by his eyes and words.
After they eat, Turtle Heart blows her a piece of glass to show his thanks—a round glass, similar to a mirror. As they look in it, he announces, “husband is near . . . traveling on a donkey and to bring elderly woman to visit you.” He says her husband will be there by nightfall, so he and Melena hook Elphaba back into her harness and proceed to make love before Frex’s arrival. Elphaba, meanwhile, is fixated on the glass disc, which “look(s) like a magic mirror showing nothing but silver-cold water within.”
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Frex returns after being away for many months, having spent the winter in an adandoned cottage where he prayed, fasted, and tried to make sense of his life and ministry. Since the Time Dragon’s slanderous story, his congregation has avoided his chapel services, so he hopes that a time of penance will help to prepare him for “something else, something next—but what?”
When he returns, he brings Nanny with him and brings a small gift for Elphaba, or “Fabala” as he calls her, who soon proceeds to break the toy. When Frex warns Elphaba not to swat at the glass disc because she will break that too, Turtle Heart tells him she cannot break that—he did not make it to be broken. He then goes on to say, “She is herself pleased at the half things. . . . I think. The little girl to play with the broken pieces better.”
Frex and Turtle Heart continue in their conversation, learning more about each other. Turtle Heart is surprised that Frex is a Munchkinlander, thinking that they are all short, but Frex explains that “anyone with bloodlines worth tracing married into height somewhere along the way.” Frex is also surprised to meet a Quadling and even more surprised that Melena offered him hospitality, for “a Quadling ranked about as low on the social ladder as it was possible to get and still be human.”
Turtle Heart then asks Frex to explain the world to him, for he does not know much about Oz. Frex explains that Oz is basically shaped like a circle with an X through it. The top is Gilliken, filled with cities, universities, theaters, industry, and civilized life; to the east is Munchkinland, which is mostly made up of farmland except for the mountainous southern region where they are now living.
Between these regions is a disputed area called the Glikkus, where there are many emerald mines which both Gilliken and Munchkinland want to claim. In the South is Quadling Country—which is mostly viewed as “marshy, useless, infected with bugs and feverish airs.” To the west is Winkie Country, which is very dry and largely unpopulated. The area surrounding Oz is made up of deserts. And at the dead center is the EmeraldCity, where Ozma, the ordained Queen of Oz, lives.
When Turtle Heart asks about the area above Oz, a religious discussion ensues. Frex explains that Gillikinese and Munkinlanders are largely unionist, ever since Lurlinist paganism went out. However, “respectable unionists are going in droves over to the pleasure faith . . . or even tiktokism, which hardly even qualifies as a religion.” Turtle Heart has heard of none of this, and Frex is excited at the idea of a possible convert.
At dinner, Nanny admits she still “harbor(s) a devotion to Lurline . . . the Fairy Queen who flew over the sandy wastes, and spotted the green and lovely land of Oz below. She left her daughter Ozma to rule the country in her absence and she promised to return to Oz in its darkest hour.” According to this legend, the various Ozmas who have ruled for the past 300 years are different incarnations of the original, each having passed her spirit to the next. The current Ozma, Tippetarius, is about the age of Elphaba, so her father Pastorius is serving as the Ozma Regent until she comes of age.
Nanny ends the dinner conversation by mentioning the legend of the dragon beneath Oz, who dreamed the world into existence and will burn it in flames when he awakes. At this, Elphaba begins crawling around on all fours, baring her teeth and roaring like a dragon.
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Towards the end of the summer, Nanny surprises Melena by asking what sorts of creatures live in the hills nearby, for she believes she has seen a beast abroad. Melena says nothing bigger than a gopher lives nearby, but Nanny insists what she saw is more like a bear or a wolf. At this Elphaba, who still does not speak, growls. Melena admits there is a rumor of rock tigers but that none has been sighted for a long time.
Nanny then raises two other concerns; the first is the fact that she knows Melena and Turtle Heart have been having sexual relations and that Frex is bound to realize it sooner or later. Melena tells her this is none of her business. Nanny’s second concern relates to Elphaba: she needs to be around other children. Nanny believes other children might encourage her to speak and to develop a sense of fun, so she proposes they take her to Rush Margins to find some small children to play with.
Melena worries that this will only make Elphaba subject to ridicule, scorn, and abuse, but Nanny argues that Elphaba needs to learn to get by in the world—that “she must learn who she is and she must face down cruelty early.” She also says she can blackmail Melena if needed, so Melena finally relents.
The next day they set out on their journey and finally arrive at the dark stone cottage of Gawnette, who has five boys and two girls of her own. Nanny says to Gawnette that they need her advice: “Because (Elphaba) is green, she is shy. Look at her. Little frightened spring turtle. We need to draw her out, make her happier, and we don’t know how.” She goes on to suggest that Gawnette let Elphaba come to her house to play and to learn, for Gawnette knows more than they do. Gawnette finally agrees when Nanny says they will pay her.
The children try to start a game of tag with Elphaba, but she does not run after them. While they try to get her to play, Melena becomes defensive after Gawnette mentions she has heard they have a “Quadling muckfrog” living with them. Melena insists he is the most “sensitive person (she’s) even met,” but Gawnette cannot see how that is much use to a minister and his wife. The conversation is interrupted when Gawnette must stop the children from biting each other—after seeing Elphaba’s teeth, she realizes she has to move quickly.
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Nanny continues to take Elphaba to play at Gawnette’s cottage every second or third day. Meanwhile Frex has started up with his ministry again, leaving the house for periods of up to 10 days at a time.
Melena entertains herself by playing the piano and spending time with Turtle Heart. Despite the great comfort she feels with Turtle Heart, she still does not feel that she really knows him, and Nanny tries to remind her they are from different cultures. She asks Melena what she really knows about him.
One night when Frex is once again home—happy that the poor are finally turning back to the Unnamed god—they build a fire in the yard and Turtle Heart makes supper. When Frex posits that maybe their time in Wend Hardings will be ending soon, Turtle Heart suggests that he travel to Quadling Country.
Melena uses this opportunity to learn a little more about Turtle Heart, and she asks him why he left Ovvels. He simply states, “Horrors.” His short answer brings “a sudden premonition of things changing” to Melena, and she feels a chill. Elphaba’s response is to utter her first word: “Horrors.” Then she says it again and again. When Turtle Heart remarks at this, Frex only tells him that she too must want to hear his answer.
So Turtle Heart explains how many workers have started coming to Quadling Country "to look and taste and sample the air, the water, the soil. They to plan the highway." The Quadlings have tried to explain that "this is wasted time and wasted effort," but the workers do not listen to them. He explains that in his hometown of Ovvels, the houses float between the trees, crops grow on small platforms hooked by ropes, and boys dive in shallow water for vegetable pearls. There is a very fine ecological balance that must be maintained—“It only to support life by careful planning and cooperation."
As Turtle Heart speaks, Frex is drawn to his intensity. Turtle Heart explains that Quadling resistance to the construction of the Yellow Brick Road is only part of it. The Quadlings fear that the builders will discover the secret the Quadlings have known for a long time: their country sits atop huge deposits of rubies, “the blood of oz.” The Quadlings worry that when news of this reaches Oz, horrific acts will follow. Turtle Heart has seen this in the glass—and to look in the glass “is to see the future, in blood and rubies.”
When Frex insists that it is impossible to see the future—that “prophecy is merely guesswork and fear”—Turtle Hearts disagrees and says that it is for this reason he left Quadling Country. The Quadlings listen to signs and watch for messages, and as the water now runs red with rubies, it will soon run red with the blood of Quadlings.
When Melena points out that Ozma Tippetarius is too young to make such a decision and that the Ozma Regent simply lives for pleasure, Turtle Heart says that neither of them will be responsible. “The danger is a foreigner,” he contends, “not a home-grown king or queen. The old women, and the shamans, and the dying: They to see a stranger king, cruel and mighty.”
When Melena wonders why they would want to extend the road into Quadling Country anyway, Frex explains that it is all in the name of progress—“Progress and control. The movement of troops. The regularization of taxes. Military protection.”
Now reminded of his duties, Turtle Heart says he must go. When he stopped at their house, he meant to only stay a day. He was on his way to the Emerald City to plead for mercy for his people and to warn the Ozma about the brutal stranger. At this Elphaba claps her hands together in delight and again says “Horrors.”
As Frex ponders Turtle Heart’s words, he proposes that maybe this is their calling: they should move to Quadling Country. Melena takes this moment to announce that she is pregnant again and unable to travel. Frex gives her a kiss—it is unclear if he suspects that Turtle Heart might be the father, and Melena herself is not sure once again.
Melena goes inside and Nanny brings her some milk to comfort her. Melena wants wine but Nanny insists on the milk, pointing out that she does not want another “disaster.” She also gives her a small capsule, explaining that she did what she told Melena she would do: she looked into sorcery. In the Lower Quarter of the capital, she “sat down with a saucy-looking biddy from Shiz, a crone named Yackle, and drank the tea and upended the cup so she could read the leaves.”
Nanny told Yackle about the greenness of Melena’s first child and how they did not want that to happen again. Yackle ground up some herbs and minerals, said some pagan prayers, and gave her a nine-month supply of capsules. Nanny also tells Melena that Yackle predicted greatness for her children, saying that they would play a part in history. She does not tell her that Yackle said that this one too would be a girl.
Melena soon begins to fall asleep, and Nanny looks out at Frex and Turtle Heart by the fire. She suspects them too of having some kind of intimate relationship—she can see it by how closely they sit. Suddenly, when Nanny calls for the men to send in Elphaba, they all realize she is missing. Nanny is convinced that the beast has come for her, and they all anxiously run around looking for Elphaba and calling out her name. Turtle Heart senses that she is not far and heads toward the lake, even though the rest think she will not be there since she hates water.
There under the docks sits Elphaba with the looking glass Turtle Heart made. She is staring at it with one eye closed, the other bright and vacant and hollow. She murmurs, “Horrors.” Turtle Heart recognizes the significance:
She sees him coming . . . he is to come from the air; is arriving. A balloon from the sky, the color of a bubble of blood: a huge crimson globe, a ruby globe: he falls from the sky. The Regent is fallen. The House of Ozma is fallen. The Clock was right. A minute to judgment.
As Turtle Heart falls in Elphaba’s lap, the group notices that she is sitting in the folded forearms of a felltop tiger—a combination of tiger and dragon—as if on a throne. She again says “horrors”—but in the glass, her parents and Nanny only see darkness.
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As this new section opens, 17-year-old Galinda of Pertha Hills, a small town called Frottica in rural Gilliken, is travelling by train to Shiz University. Unexpectedly, she is traveling alone since her chaperone, Ama Clutch, stepped on a rusty nail at the train station and had to seek medical attention. Sharing her train car is a large Goat who is sleeping and with whom she seeks to avoid eye contact.
Galinda tries to feign boredom as the train moves along but in reality, she has never traveled far from home. She has great expectations for herself at Shiz; she reasons that “because she (is) beautiful she is significant.” She is also proud of herself for getting a three-year fellowship to Crage Hall at Shiz because she is smart—and she recalls how she quoted excessively from the Oziad in her entrance exams.
The neighboring Goat wakes up when the conductor comes by to check tickets, and he asks Galinda to get his down from overheard. The conductor shows surprise that the “beast” is able to afford a ticket for first class, and the Goat objects to being called a beast, pointing out that Animals are still allowed to travel in this manner, even if it costs them more to do so.
The Goat, it turns out, is Dr. Dillamond, a Fellow of Shiz University who teaches in the Biological Arts department. After Galinda introduces herself, emphasizing the proper pronunciation of her name and the fact that she is an “Arduenna” on her mother’s side, Dr. Dillamond wastes no time in asking her what she thinks of the Wizard’s “proposed Banns on travel.”
Since Galinda has heard nothing of the proposal, he explains that the Wizard wants to restrict Animals from using public transport except in limited cases. Animals are different from animals, for Animals can speak and have a spirit. He is upset when Galinda says she does not see a problem with this and, after a few more angry words, they travel the rest of the way in silence.
When they finally arrive at Shiz, Galinda is overwhelmed by what she sees and more than a bit nervous about what to do next. Dillamond sympathetically helps her get a carriage to take her to Crage Hall. On the way, she notices with surprise how many animals and Animals inhabit the city.
Once at Crage Hall, she meets the “fish-faced upper-class Gillikinese” Headmistress, Madame Morrible, who is greeting all the new arrivals. Their chaperoning Amas, meanwhile, are talking together in a side room—unbeknownst to Galinda, they are working out roommate pairings. Since her Ama is not there, she is mortified to discover that no roommate has been arranged for her.
Madame Morrible says to all the leftover girls without a chaperone that they will be put into a dormitory, where a chaperone will be provided. At this, Galinda finally speaks up and explains her situation. Madame Morrible suggests that when Ama Clutch finally arrives, perhaps she can chaperone the girls in the Pink Dormitory. This Galinda absolutely does not want, so she says she “cannot recommend that (Madame Morrible) ask (her) Ama to oversee other girls, for reasons (she) may not say in public.”
Intrigued, Madame Morrible invites Galinda to her chambers that evening to tell her story. In the meantime, she says she will compromise: if Ama Clutch can chaperone one other girl who is without a roommate, she can place them in a room together. Galinda agrees, and Madame Morrible calls upon “the Thropp Third Descending, of Nest Hardings, Elphaba.”
To Galinda’s dismay, a girl in the back of the room steps forward, “a pauper in a red dress with gaudy fretwork, and in clumpy, old-people’s boots . . . a hatchet-faced girl with putrescent green skin and long, foreign-looking black hair.”
From her notes, Madame Morrible reads that this unusual-looking girl, a Munchkinlander by birth, spent many years living in Quadling Country. After expressing her eagerness to hear more about Elphaba’s experiences, she hands them the keys to their room. Galinda flees down the hall, Elphaba following behind.
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When Ama Clutch arrives the next day, Galinda hopes she will refuse to chaperone Elphaba, but instead Ama Clutch warmly greets Elphaba and says to Galinda that perhaps this experience will be good for her.
Galinda had not gotten any further in her exchange with Madame Morrible the evening before—at which time she was once again struck by how much Madame Morrible looks in both countenance and dress like a fish, specifically a giant carp.
At their meeting, Galinda made up an elaborate story as to why Ama Clutch could not supervise a group of girls. According to her tale, while picnicking last summer, Ama Clutch took a serious fall, causing her to slip into a coma for weeks, from which she emerged with no memory of the accident at all. She suffers from “amnesia by trauma,” Galinda claims, and this causes her at times to become “addled,” even to the point where she will talk to inanimate objects or forget that people and Animals are alive.
Galinda goes on to say that because she has known and loved Ama Clutch for years, she poses no problem to her; however, she should not be responsible for the well-being of others. By this, she hopes to also get Elphaba removed from her room. Madame Morrible, however, does not move to do this. Instead she says, “I suppose if Miss Elphaba cannot live with what we give her, she will leave Crage Hall on her own accord. Don’t you think?”
With these words, Galinda understands—with a tinge of foreboding—that Madame Morrible is drawing her into a campaign to get rid of Elphaba. She tentatively agrees, feeling like a “fish . . . caught on a most clever hook.” As she leaves, she notices a robotic servant, a “small tiktok thing,” hovering nearby and then whirring away with the dishes.
Back in their room, Elphaba spends most of her time reading and twirling her hair around her finger. Galinda sets out to “(forge) alliances with the better girls who had been her rightful roommate prospects,” including Milla, Pfannee, and Shenshen. Soon, the girls turn to gossiping about Elphaba, with Galinda trying to hide the fact she is her roommate. Pfannee, who also is a Munchkinlander, expresses her surprise at Elphaba’s poverty-stricken appearance, saying that the Thropps are highly regarded in Nest Hardings and that the Eminent Thropp “put together the area’s militia and tore up the Yellow Brick Road that the Ozma Regent had been laying in when we all were small—before the Glorious Revolution.”
While Galinda loves her new life at Shiz—the city life, the outings, the architecture—she struggles with the actual learning that she is expected to do. Elphaba, by contrast, buries herself in books and avoids all socializing.
One night, when the Amas are away at a pleasure faith meeting and Galinda has an argument with Pfannee and Shenshen, the two roommates actually have a conversation in their room and end up making each other smile. Galinda encourages Elphaba to try on one of her pretty hats, and once she finally does, Galinda is struck by how Elphaba actually looks pretty—“like a rare flower, her skin stemlike in its soft pearlescent sheen, the hat a botanical riot.”
Elphaba, who had been reading old speeches of the early unionist fathers when Galinda entered, admits to Galinda that her father was a unionist minister. While she was not really interested in his teachings before, she now finds herself curious and has been reading about good and evil and whether they really exist at all. She tries to discuss the issue with Galinda, but Galinda says she doesn’t “read very well . . . (or) think very well” and finds the conversation boring. Elphaba smiles when Galinda by one of her comments shows that she really does have the ability to think and show some insight.
Galinda shows her two-facedness that next day, however, when she laughs about Elphaba behind her back with her friends, specifically saying how silly she looked in the hat. Her friends offer their condolences, saying, “You poor thing, to have to be our spy and stand the shame of that grasshopper roomie.”
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As the chapter opens, Madame Morrible holds a “poetry soiree” to which the girls of Crage Hall as well as the boys from Three Queens and Ozma Towers are invited. In addition, many of the professors and doctors from Shiz University attend, including the Animals from Crage Hall and the men from the boys' classes.
Madame Morrible opens the evening with her explanation of a new verse form gaining popularity called the Quell. “The Quell,” she says, “is a brief poem, uplifting in nature. It pairs a sequence of thirteen short lines with a concluding, unrhyming apothegm. The reward of the poem is in the revealing contrast between rhyming argument and concluding remark.” She hopes the evening’s poetry will serve as a pleasant break from the recent, unpleasant news from the capital. The boys nod to this; the girls are clueless as to what she means.
Next Madame Morrible recites two Quells, with the second ending with the line: “Animals should be seen and not heard.” This sparks controversy in the room, as Dr. Dillamond insists this is not poetry but propaganda. Elphaba, for the first time, sidles up to Galinda to ask what she makes of this. Clearly she is deeply interested in the conversation; all Galinda can think about is whether anyone sees her talking to Elphaba. Several of the Animal professors march out of the room, but the evening of poetry continues.
Later, while refreshments are served by Madame Morrible’s tiktok creature, a boy approaches Galinda and Elphaba and introduces himself as Boq, a Munchkinlander from Briscoe Hall. Galinda is all pleasantries while Elphaba tries to excuse herself.
He surprises both women, however, when he says he thinks he knows Elphaba—or “Miss Elphie”—and says they used to play together when they were young. His father was Bfee, the mayor of Rush Margins, and they were both cared for by Gawnette. Elphaba says she has no memory of this—that she remembers growing up in Quadling Country—but Boq remembers clearly the stories of Elphaba’s parents and the night the Clock of the Time Dragon came to town. Elphaba leaves, and Boq continues his conversation with Galinda.
In the week following the poetry evening, discussions continue about what was said. Dr. Dillamond interrupts his biology lecture to call for a response from his students, and when they have none—looking at him with confusion—he explains to them that the Wizard has proclaimed “Banns on Animal Mobility” restricting Animals not only in their travel, lodgings, and public services but also in the ability of those still coming of age to work in the public sector. Instead, they are to be herded back to the farmlands.
Upset after this conversation, Dr. Dillamond dismisses the class early. Only Elphaba approaches him at the front of the room, where he “(stands) shaking in uncontrolled spasms, his horned head bowed.”
A few days later, when Madame Morrible asks for questions after finishing one of her lectures, Elphaba uses the opportunity to ask her about her poems. She presses her to explain what she meant by the line “Animals should be seen and not heard.” Madame Morrible becomes rather defensive, calling Elphaba “impertinent” and claiming the line needs to be recognized as irony. Elphaba does not stop, however, in her drive to get a more direct answer and finally gets Madame Morrible to snap, “In the case of poetic interpretation, I venture to suggest, it may indeed be true. Animals should not be heard.”
The next chapter picks up as the second semester begins, and Galinda finds herself still stuck with Elphaba as a roommate. She makes a brief protest to Madame Morribe, but it goes nowhere. Madame Morrible uses the opportunity to discuss Galinda’s future plans and suggests that she take up sorcery. To encourage her, she says. “In the event you choose sorcery, it might—just might—be possible to find you a new roomie.” Galinda says she will think about it—but she cannot help thinking there is something dangerous about Madame Morrible.
Madame Morrible also lets Galinda know that Elphaba’s sister will be coming soon to Shiz “because there’s nothing (she) can do to stop it. The sister being as she is. Undoubtedly spending much time in Miss Elphaba’s room, being tended to.” Hearing the Head’s words, Galinda is very curious as to what Elphaba’s sister’s problem is, but she does not have the nerve to ask Elphaba about it.
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The section begins with Boq trying to study in his room while several other boys, led by “the strapping Gillikinese bucko named Avaric,” encourage him to come drinking with them at the pub. Boq insists he needs to continue studying but says he may join them later. The boys are especially excited because the pub has a new witch performing—a “Kumbric Witch.” Avaric also suggests that maybe later, some of them will sneak off to the Philosophy Club—a club known for its questionable antics and sexual perversity.
Boq watches the boys leave, determined to return to his studies so he can pass his exams, but instead finds himself distracted by thoughts of Galinda as he looks out toward Crage Hall. Moments later, he finds himself racing down the stairs and charging through the corridors with an idea “to see his hearththrob again.”
Soon he finds himself climbing onto a stable roof, where he can peer through the windows into Crage Hall, searching for Galinda. Before he can catch sight of her, he hears from below a voice shouting, “What the hell are you doing up there?”
Unable to maintain his balance, Boq falls from the roof into a patch of lettuce, where he is met by Elphaba’s gaze. Once over the initial shock, she teases him a bit, asking him if he “(saw) the tree of (his) dreams” and quickly guessing that it is Galinda he hopes to see.
When he learns Elphaba is Galinda’s roommate, he begs her assistance in bringing the two of them together. Elphaba agrees, mostly because she thinks it better to dash his hopes immediately rather than let them drag on, and they make a date for her to bring Galinda to this same meeting place three days later.
At the appointed time, Boq returns to find Elphaba and Galinda sitting on a bench, with Galinda looking uncomfortably the other way. When she does speak, Galinda says she finds their meeting highly improper and, although she is flattered at his attentions, she has no special feelings for him. Besides, there are too many “social impediments” to keep them apart, including their different cultures, his career as a farmer, and the fact that he is too short. She only agreed to come, she explains, because Elphaba insisted and because she wanted to tell him this in person.
Boq, not surprisingly, is hurt by her words but says he knows all that is true and that what he really wants is for them to be able to meet as friends from time to time. Galinda does not really understand the point of such a friendship, believing it would only be distracting. She does finally acknowledge that he is brave and clever and even “fun to look at.”
Moments later, their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Ama Clutch, who finds the interaction highly inappropriate. Galinda agrees that there can be no more such meetings; however, she does offer Boq some hope, saying, “If our paths cross in a legitimate way, Master Boq, I will do you the courtesy at least of not ignoring you.” While Boq had hoped for more, he leaves with the thought that at least it is a start.
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As summer begins, Boq spends his days working at the Three Queens library under the watchful eye of the head librarian, a giant Rhinoceros. His job, along with two others boys named Crope and Tibbett, is to clean old manuscripts, although the boys spend much of their time teasing each other and gossiping. They spend their lunchtimes by the banks of the canal, where Boq hopes to some day run into Galinda.
Finally his hopes are answered when Galinda walks by with Ama Clutch, Shenshen, and Pfannee. They have a brief conversation during which Galinda announces that she will be spending a month with her friends at a house on the shores of Lake Chorge. She also lets them know that Elphaba has a job working in the lab and the library under the direction of Dr. Dillamond. Boq is impressed by this, calling Dr. Dillamond “the most impressive Biology tutor in Shiz” and wishing he were the boys’ professor.
A couple weeks later, as Boq sits at Railway Square reading in the newspaper about the Emerald City Home Guard’s suppression of Animal dissenters and the ongoing drought in Munchkinland, Elphaba approaches him at his table. She is carrying a package containing a beautiful Vinkus shawl and some stockings for her sister. When Boq asks if her sister is as difficult as she is, Elphaba says, “She is difficult in a different way. She’s crippled, pretty severely, is my Nessarose, so she’s a handful.” She also tells Boq that her mother died in childbirth, so their father raised them—although he was too religious to really do much. Nanny did most of the work.
The conversation then turns to Elphaba’s work with Dr. Dillamond. She explains that the doctor is working in natural essences, “trying to determine by scientific method what the real differences (are) between animal and Animal tissue.” Most of the literature on it, Elphaba explains, is from pagan or unionist perspectives. The ultimate significance of this comes back to the essential question: “How can the Banns on Animal mobility be upheld if Dr. Dillamond can prove, scientifically, that there isn’t any inherent difference between humans and Animals?”
Elphaba’s job is chiefly to serve as Dr. Dillamond’s secretary since he cannot write things down, as well as to look things up at the Crage Hall library. At this point, Boq interjects that the Briscoe Hall and Three Queens libraries would be better sources for materials. Since these are off limits both to Elphaba as a girl and to Dr. Dillamond as an Animal, Boq volunteers to assist them in their research. Elphaba graciously accepts his offer. As Boq watches her leave, not quite realizing what he has gotten himself into, he notices that there are no Animals at all in Railroad Square.
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As Boq begins researching materials at the library, he recruits Crope and Tibbett to help as well. Once a week they meet with Elphaba at Railway Square to share what they have found. Elphaba appears at these meetings “entirely swathed in a brown cloak with a hood and veil that (hide) all but her eyes . . . long, frayed gray gloves . . . her bamboo-pole legs (sheathed) in a double thickness of cotton stocking.” Boq tells her that she looks like the original Kumbric Witch.
One day the boys notice Elphaba’s aversion to water and ask her about it, teasing her that she must be trying to avoid a “baptismal splash” that would curtail her “liberty as a free-range agnostic.” She avoids the question and they get down to business—but their conversation by this point has become very comfortable and friendly.
Elphaba reports excitedly that this week Dr. Dillamond has made some sort of breakthrough and that his passion is thrilling. “He began to dictate,” she recalls, “and he was so excited that he sang his findings; he composed arias out of what he was seeing!”
What Dr. Dillamond needs now, she explains, is for them to find old Lurlinist and unionist explanations of how the animals and Animals had been differentiated, as well as some of the old myths of origin that predate the Oziad. He hopes to understand the earliest thinking on origins to better challenge the Wizard’s laws.
Tibbett uses this moment to retell the myth of the Fairy Queen Lurline, believed by Lurlinists to have brought Oz into existence when she stopped on a journey and called forth water from deep beneath the desert sands. She drank up so much of the water that she fell asleep in a stupor, then woke up to relieve herself. From her urine came the Gilliken River. All the animals were caught up in the raging flood; those that became fearful and turned back remained animals, whereas those that swam on and made it to shore became Animals.
Boq then tells of some unionist scriptures he read where the sea came from the tears of the Unnamed God during his only visit to Oz, the tears resulting from the sorrow he knew would fill the land. In the resulting flood, animals stayed alive by floating on logs. Those who drank up enough of the tears began to construct rafts and saved the others out of mercy, and they became Animals.
Elphaba says she has been looking into the teachings of the pleasure faith; some of their writings hint that the original distinction between animals and Animals was a Kumbric Witch spell. This, she says, is dangerous propaganda because if it is a spell, then it can be reversed. At any rate, she does not believe there can be magic that strong—but Tibbett points out that they also do not have proof that god is that strong.
Abruptly Elphaba stops speaking and covers her head with her cloak. When the others ask why, she motions for them to be quiet, and Crope and Tibbett promptly begin joking and teasing each other. In a moment, she explains that the tiktok that was buying coffee at the counter is named Grommetik and works at Crage Hall for Madame Morrible. She does not think it saw her, but she is too nervous to continue their conversation.
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As the end of summer approaches, Avaric returns to school after a leisurely time at his home, the seat of the Margreave of Tenmeadows. At the same time, Elphaba receives a surprising letter from Galinda, who is with Pfannee and Shenshen at Lake Chorge, inviting her to join them.
Elphaba has no intention of going, but Boq believes that maybe Galinda is in some kind of trouble and needs her there. He continues pressing her, saying that he and Avaric can join her as chaperones and can rent a room at a nearby inn.
Madame Morrible does not find them proper chaperones, but she offers Grommetik as a companion. Elphaba finally agrees, and the group sets off on the train for Lake Chorge, with Elphaba and Avarik immediately disliking each other and Avarik teasing Boq about his lovesickness.
When the group finally arrives, with Grommetik trailing behind, they are greeted by Ama Clutch, who expresses great surprise at seeing Elphaba there, saying she knew nothing of the invitation. It turns out that Galinda knew nothing of it, either—it was all a big joke by Pfannee and Shenshen.
Galinda is mortified by the group’s arrival, even going so far as to say to Elphaba, “Were you born to plague me? Did I ask for your association?” At first confused, Elphaba quickly pieces the situation together and then tells Pfannee she accepts her invitation. She then proceeds to stay in her room all day.
The boys commence to swim and row on the lake with the girls. Boq finally confronts Galinda on her treatment of Elphaba and urges her that if she feels so humiliated, she should leave. He tells her that over the summer, he and “Elphie” have become friends and that as a result, he feels closer to Galinda as well.
Galinda, despite herself, admits that she finds Boq “a little sweet . . . a little charming . . . a little maddening and . . . a little habit-forming,” and before she knows it, the two of them are kissing.
The next day, Elphaba, Galinda, Boq, Grommetik, and Ama Clutch head back to Shiz; Avarik stays behind with Pfannee and Shenshen.
The next chapter opens with Boq back at work and the Rhino librarian breathing down his, Crope, and Tibbett’s necks after realizing how little work they got done that summer. One afternoon as he is cleaning some very old manuscripts, Boq comes across a picture, maybe 400 or 500 years old, of a Kumbric Witch. The witch, standing on an isthmus connecting two rocky lands and surrounded by waves, holds in her hands a drowned-looking beast, which she is offering to nurse from her breast in an almost motherly way. In Boq’s mind, the picture seems to bring together the various creation myths of the Animals. He decides to deliver the scroll to Dr. Dillamond.
When he meets Elphaba, she looks over the scroll and questions whether it might not be a picture of the Fairy Queen Lurline, but Boq points out the lack of “accoutrements of glamour” that usually accompany Lurline. She pockets the scroll, then tells Boq that Dr. Dillamond just keeps making more and more breakthroughs. She thinks he is “on the verge of founding a whole new branch of knowledge, and every day’s findings provoke a hundred new questions.” He has been staying up late at night working in his labs.
Boq then turns the conversation to Galinda, wanting to know if she has said anything about him. Elphaba sympathetically asks if Galinda really means that much to him, to which he replies, “She is my world.” To this Elphaba says, “Your world is too small if she is.” She tries to dissuade him, saying he is worth a dozen Galindas. This only confuses Boq and he wonders whether Elphaba perhaps has feelings for him, but she insists that is not the case, then rushes away.
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Tragedy strikes Shiz, and the chapter begins with all the girls crying outside the gate of Crage Hall—only Elphaba has a dry face. When Boq and Avarik stumble upon them and ask what has happened, all Galinda can get out is that the police and a doctor are there. It is Galinda who says, “They found out…. Somehow the bastards found out.” Moments later, three policemen and a doctor emerge carrying a stretcher holding Dr. Dillamond, his throat slit and knotted with blood.
When they finally sit down, Galinda tells the story of how, as they were going to bed the night before, Ama Clutch got up to close the drapes and noticed the lights on in Dr. Dillamond’s lab. Then she said, “Well now isn’t that funny?” Without further explanation, she said good night and left. When Galinda and Elphaba woke up that morning, Ama Clutch was not there with their tea as she usually was. Here Galinda breaks down crying, and it is up to Elphaba to continue the story.
When Ama Clutch still had not shown up after breakfast, the girls went to see Madame Morrible, who told them that Ama Clutch had had a “relapse during the night and was recovering in the infirmary.” She also told them they could not see her at that time. When Doctor Dillamond did not show up to his lecture that morning, they pushed their way into the infirmary to see Ama Clutch, whose face looked funny and who stared vacantly but said nothing.
As they were leaving, Ama Clutch turned to a long rusty nail on a silver tray beside her and began talking to it, saying she knew it had not meant to stab her foot last year. Before Elphaba can finish her tale, Boq leaves, not able to listen to any more of her “blather” or any more prayers for Dr. Dillamond’s spirit, which has clearly left his body.
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While everyone who has seen the corpse believes that Dr. Dillamond was murdered, the official story is that “the doctor had broken a magnifying lens and stumbled against it, cutting an artery in the process.” The only one who might be able to contradict this story, Ama Clutch, says nothing, only talking to the various objects surrounding her.
Galinda, as a belated apology to Dr. Dillamond for her initial rudeness, begins calling herself “Glinda,” as he called her, but she refuses to visit Ama Clutch or discuss her condition. Elphaba, however, continues to visit, and it is Elphaba who comes up with a solution when Madame Morrible says that without a chaperone, she and Glinda will have to move to the dormitory.
Soon after this, Boq picks up Nanny at the station. Along with her comes Nessarose—“gorgeous, pink, slender as a wheat stalk, and armless.” With another’s steadying hand and her own careful footing, Nessarose can keep her balance, but she requires constant aid. She was not expected at Shiz until the following year, but with Nanny summoned to step in as chaperone to Elphaba and Glinda, Nessarose must come along too.
Upon their arrival they meet with Madame Morrible, who says she will set up Nanny and Nessarose in a room adjoining Elphaba and Glinda. When Glinda questions what will happen when Ama Clutch recovers, Madama Morrible brushes aside this possibility, saying, “You have already told me of the long-standing recurrence of this unusual medical condition. I can only assume this has deteriorated into a permanent relapse.”
Boq, who witnesses the whole exchange, realizes how much Glinda has changed. Still, he looks forward to seeing her the following week in life sciences in the first coeducational lecture to be offered at Shiz; now that prohibitions are in place on Animal hiring, the colleges have decided to jointly give assembly lectures to all the students.
In the following chapter, Glinda herself ponders how much she has changed: “She had come to Shiz a vain, silly thing, and now found herself in a coven of vipers.” She worries that what has happened to Ama Clutch is her own fault, for “she had invented a nonsense disease for Ama Clutch, and Ama Clutch had come down with it.”
She certainly no longer trusts Madame Morrible, and she sees Pfannee and Shenshen for the “shallow, self-serving snobs” that they are. She does, however, make the decision to specialize in sorcery—and she realizes Elphaba, who is still her roommate despite her decision to study sorcery, has “all the potential of becoming an actual friend.”
One day, she finally gets up the nerve to ask Elphaba about her sister. Elphaba relates that Nessarose was born at Colwen Grounds when Elphaba was about three. They had gone there for a short stay before moving to Quadling Country. Her birth coincided with a temporary respite from the drought in the area, following a time of pagan dances and human sacrifice. The human who had been killed was the Quadling Turtle Heart after a crowd was incited to violence by “some rabble-rousing pfaithers and a prophetic clock.”
They next moved to Quadling Country, where their mother died five years later giving birth to their younger brother, Shell. Nanny came to help raise them as they moved from settlement to settlement. All the while, the Wizard’s men began draining the badlands to get at the ruby deposits, killing many Quadlings in the process. Once they had raked up all the rubies, they left—leaving the land spoiled and Frex “barmy.”
Glinda pushes to know more about Nessarose, and Elphaba says: “Nessarose is a strong-willed semi-invalid. She’s very smart, and thinks she’s holy. . . . She isn’t good at taking care of other people because she has never learned to take care of herself.” Throughout her childhood, Elphaba was expected to take care of her—and she supposes she will be expected to care for her again once Nanny is gone.
As she gets to know her, Glinda does not find that she especially likes Nessarose; she finds her bossy and demanding. More and more, Glinda begins to retreat into her studies of sorcery, where she is being taught by a new but not especially talented instructor, Miss Greyling.
When asked by Elphaba how sorcery came to be taught at a school whose original charter was unionist, Glinda replies that sorcery is not really religious—“It’s all entertainment. It’s theater.” When Nessarose objects, saying her father always claimed magic was the devil’s trick to distract the masses from true worship, Glinda says that may be true of charlatans and street performers but that sorcery does not have to be that way. It can also be helpful to the community.
After Glinda succeeds in exploding Elphaba’s sandwich, which she had been trying to elevate over the nearby canal, the whole group breaks into laughter. But when Elphaba says she does not believe in anything—that she’s “an atheist and an aspiritualist”—Nessarose becomes angry and defensive. She complains that Elphaba is just trying to “shock and scandalize” the group and is putting down Nessarose’s faith in the process. She eventually turns away from the group and devotes herself to silent prayer.
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A few days later, Boq stops Elphaba to ask whether she knows if Dr. Dillamond’s lab has been cleared out. Elphaba admits that she snuck in there soon after his death to remove his findings and has been studying them on her own, although without much success. Boq asks to be able to see the findings as well but Elphaba refuses, saying that “the less (he) know(s) the better.” She believes that whoever killed Dr. Dillamond did so to keep his findings from being published. Boq is upset by this, but Elphaba will not budge.
Soon after this, they find themselves listening to Dr. Nikidik’s lecture on the Life Force—most of which they cannot understand because of his mumbling. The class’s attention is finally captured when he releases a kind of smoky powder from a bottle, gesturing for the students to be quiet and not to breathe too deeply, for it would throw off the path of the powered “Extract of Biological Intention.” It seems to be drifting toward four portraits of the school’s founders, and the students anxiously await what might happen.
The moment is disrupted when someone opens a sidedoor, disturbing the air currents. A new student enters, “oddly dressed in suede leggings and a white cotton shirt, with a pattern of blue diamonds tattooed on the dark skin of his face and hands.” He is a Winkie from the Vinkus—the first any of the students have ever seen. He apologizes for being late and explains that the other doors were locked.
As if having the entire class stare at him is not enough, he is soon attacked by an animated pair of antlers, which had fallen in the path of the strange powder. The antlers pin him to the door, and it is only the quick action of Crope and Tibbett that saves him from being pierced through. The two boys wrestle the antlers off of the unprepared Winkie and proceed to break off the tines.
The attack provokes a discussion the next day in sorcery about the difference between science and magic. As the teacher Miss Greyling explains:
“Science, my dears, is the systematic dissection of nature, to reduce it to working parts that more or less obey universal laws. Sorcery moves in the opposite direction. It doesn’t rend, it repairs. . . . In the hands of someone truly skilled . . . it is Art.”
Glinda ponders this, but Nessarose immediately disagrees, saying that “only the Unnamed God creates” and warning Glinda not to let Miss Greyling corrupt her morals.
In the following week’s lecture, the Winkie boy arrives on time. Avaric informs the group that he is a full-blooded Winkie, a prince of his tribe, named Fiyero. Dr. Nikidik begins the lecture by having a student wheel in a cart, on which the students discover he has a terrified-looking lion cub that the professor has named “Brrr.” He then poses the question to the class: “Who can tell me if this is an Animal or an animal?”
Elphaba immediately jumps in, saying that the cub’s mother would be the one to answer that and asking why it was taken from its mother at such a young age. Dr. Nikidik explains that the mother died, then continues with his lecture. Elphaba sits down, but she is very upset at the professor for using such a young cub in class, pointing out to both Boq and Avaric how it is shivering in fear. The Doctor finally gets to his point: “Without language or contextual clues, at its infant stages a beast (is) not clearly Animal or animal.”
Again Elphaba jumps in, arguing that this is a class on life sciences, not current events. Dr. Nikidik does not back down, asking further what the students think might happen if they cauterized the part of the brain that develops language and whether that might eliminate the notion of pain.
When he pulls out a small hammer and syringe, the cub hisses, backs up, falls to the floor, and starts running toward the door. At this point some other students jump in, saying that the cub clearly understands pain and shouting at the Doctor to stop. Two girls take up the cub and run out of the room, helping him to escape. Dr. Nikidik angrily halts his lecture, criticizing the students for not wanting to learn, and Boq tries to comfort Elphaba, who is visibly shaken by the day’s events.
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As the group of friends—including, Elphaba, Glinda, Nessarose, Boq, Crope, Tibbett, and Avaric—begins spending more time together, they become more comfortable with each other, a kind of “charmed circle.”
One day, Crope brings Fiyero along with him and the group learns that even though he is only 18, Fiyero has been married for some time. This is standard practice in the Vinkus—although they later learn that he will not actually begin living with his wife until he is 20. Boq also finds that his crush on Glinda is abating. She is a changed person, more self-reliant and less self-absorbed, and he is happy to have her as a friend.
During this time, the girls try to avoid Madame Morrible as much as possible. However, one day she sends Grommetik to summon Elphaba and Nessarose into her office to tell them she has received a package from their father as well as some news. “He writes,” she says, “to ask of Nessarose’s health and progress, and to tell you both that he is going to undertake a fast and penance for the return of Ozma Tippetarius.” The young Ozma had disappeared when the Wizard took power, and although most believe she is dead, others believe she has been “spirited away and frozen in a cave like Lurlina.”
Madame Morrible is not happy about this news, and she wants to assure herself that the girls do not share their father’s “seditious attitudes . . . (and) royalist yearnings.” They tell her they do not. She then presents them with the package, which contains a pair of dazzling shoes for Nessarose—“the surface of the shoes (seems) to pulse with hundreds of reflections and refractions. In the firelight, it (is) like looking at boiling corpuscles of blood under a magnifying glass.” There is nothing in the box for Elphaba, which does not go unnoticed by either Elphaba or Nanny.
Later, while out with their charmed circle of friends, Nessarose admits that while she may have been her father’s pet and captured his heart because of her disability, Elphaba captured his heart when she sang. This surprises everyone in the group, and they will not relent until Elphaba agrees to sing.
The whole room quiets as she sings a song about “a land where injustice and common cruelty and despotic rule and the beggaring fist of drought didn’t work together to hold everyone by the neck.” When she finishes, Boq compares the fading melody to “a rainbow after a storm, or . . . winds calming down at last.” Nessarose says that although Elphaba claims not to be religious, her passionate singing about the afterlife would seem to prove otherwise. No one argues with this.
Soon after this, Grommetik appears again with a note, this time for Glinda, saying that Ama Clutch appears to be nearing the end of her life. Glinda, Elphaba, Nessarose, and Nanny rush to see her in the infirmary, where they find her talking to a pillowcase. Glinda begs her to “come back, one more time before (she goes),” but Elphaba warns Glinda she should say what she needs to say because she can see that Ama Clutch will soon be gone.
Glinda asks for privacy from Madame Morrible but only gets it after Elphaba and Nanny basically push her out of the room and lock the door. Glinda tells Nanny she is going to “magick (her) back,” and soon Ama Clutch falls back on the bed and recognizes Glinda. Glinda wants to use these final moments to apologize to Ama Clutch, still believing that it is her fault that Ama Clutch is in this situation, but Elphaba stops her and says they need to ask Ama Clutch a question: “Who killed Doctor Dillamond?”
Ama recalls how when she looked through the window, “it had just happened and the knife was still there . . . smeared with blood that hadn’t had a chance to dry.” She could see the “Wind come to take Doctor Dillamond away,” and she knew he was dead. It is only with Elphaba’s pressing that she finally confirms the truth: Grommetik killed Dr. Dillamond. She does not blame Glinda for anything that happened to her—she says it was her time to be ill and her time to die—and the groups stays with her until the Wind comes to take her away.
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Soon after, Ama Clutch’s funeral is held, at which minimal refreshments are offered, offending both Glinda and Nanny considerably. To their criticisms, Madame Morrible simply reminds them of the food shortages that currently exist and points out, “If only people would obey the Wizard absolutely, there would be abundance.” She then tells the girls she wants to see them alone after the guests leave—even Grommetik and Nanny are sent out of the room.
Once alone, she asks the girls to tell her about Ama Clutch’s last words. They all insist she “spewed nonsense to the last,” but Madame Morrible seems to believe otherwise and mentions how often at the end, “the dying often try to make sense, at the last possible moment, of the puzzles of their lives.” She then says she thought Ama Clutch might have mentioned seeing the Goat’s body, the blood, and Grommetik, then goes on to tell her own version of what happened.
According to Madame Morrible, she had sent Grommetik over with a pot of tea when she noticed the lights on in the morning at Dr. Dillamond's lab, but when Grommetik arrived, the Doctor was already dead from somehow stumbling into the lens and severing his jugular vein. Grommetik had gone to check a pulse, at which time Ama Clutch arrived.
Seeing Grommetik with blood on him, she had assumed the worst, and Madame Morrible believes the shock of it all “sent Ama Clutch pitching back into her ailment.” At this point, Glinda finally admits she invented the ailment. This only causes Madame Morrible to express renewed conviction in Glinda’s talents for sorcery. Glinda does not bring up the fact that Ama Clutch had noticed something was wrong in the evening.
Next Madame Morrible tells the girls she has something to say to them all in the strictest confidence—something that cannot be repeated out of that room. For some years, she explains, she has been working on a “crucial task . . . essential to the internal security of Oz” and only now are the “goods” at her disposal. The girls soon understand they are the “goods” about which she is speaking. Next, she puts a binding spell on each of them that will make it impossible for them to discuss what she is about to say.
After explaining some of the difficulties facing Oz and praising the Wizard for his work, Madame Morrible announces that the Wizard needs some “agents . . . a few generals . . . some people with managing skills . . . (and) gumption. In a word, women.” She has identified Nessarose, Elphaba, and Glinda as possessing just the skills and character traits that are needed, and she wants them to become a “trio of Adepts” to whom she will assign secret duties in different parts of the country. It would be their job to promote peace and to “(help) restrain the unruly element among our less civilized populations.”
She proposes placing Glinda in the North in Gilliken, where she would be comfortable in both high and low society; Elphaba in the East at Colwen Grounds, where she is in line to inherit the position of Eminent Thropp; and Nessarose in the South among the Quadlings, where she grew up. She says no one will be needed in the West in the Vinkus, since it is sparsely populated and the “master plans eradicate any appreciable population in that godforsaken place.”
She ends by saying the girls should see this as a great opportunity should all think carefully about what she has proposed. However, she reminds them they cannot speak of this, even to each other. She will call them in the next semester for their final answer.
After this, the three young women meet up with the rest of the group to have their own memorial ceremony for Ama Clutch—this time with the saffron cream they all missed earlier. Glinda and Nessarose find they have a hard time speaking, and Elphaba tells both of them to “resist” and snap out of it. Only she seems to be able not to be bound by Madama Morrible’s words.
Soon Avaric proposes that they all go to the Philosophy Club that evening. Although some have misgivings, all but Elphaba, Nessarose, and Glinda agree to go. Glinda wants to go but Elphaba tells her she can’t: they are leaving right away for the Emerald City to go see the Wizard.
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As Elphaba and Glinda head to the Emerald City, seven members of the "charmed circle" go to the Philosophy Club: Boq; Avaric, Crope, Tibbett, Fiyero, Shenshen, and Pfannee. All are a bit nervous, especially Boq. They are greeted at the window by Yackle, who explains the rules to them: once in, the doors are locked, and there is an “if-you-pay-you-play policy.”
Inside a dwarf welcomes them, tells them they are the “seven-of-diamond tickets,” and tells them what they should do: “Have a drink on the house, watch the girlie show, and dance a little if you want. Every hour or so I close this street door and open the next. . . . You all go in together or you don’t go in at all.”
Inside they find a mixed crowd of Animals, humans, dwarfs, elves, and tiktok creatures. Several of them say they think they have gone far enough, but before they can take action, their tickets along with those of several others are called, and the group of 23 proceeds through the door. All but Shenshen and Avaric feel a bit squeamish. They find themselves in a dark theater, where the friends are split up. Some kind of hallucinogenic incense fills the air, and Boq finds his thoughts becoming more and more blurred.
Soon the dwarf appears on stage and points to a woman, a man, and a tiger on stage. The man, Boq realizes, is Tibbett. Then, using shackles, emollients, scented oils, and riding crops, the dwarf directs the three in an act of sexual perversity, where the “true, clandestine study of knowledge (can) begin.” Tibbett, the reader later learns, never recovers from this night’s experience, and the whole group is never together again.
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While the others go to the Philosophy Club, Glinda and Elphaba head to the Emerald City. It takes them more than a week to finally arrive after experiencing bad weather, hunger, run-down inns, uncomfortable carriages, and horrible nightmares.
Finally they see the Emerald City in the distance. Glinda notices the “pomp (and) pretension” and Elphaba notices that there are no Animals in sight. Together they notice many poor, destitute people on the streets as well as dirty children running in packs and young girls “dressed like women for hire.”
Five days later, after working their way past the gatekeeper, receptionist, social secretary, and Commander General and dropping Madame Morrible’s name to help them gain access, they find themselves about to meet the Wizard. They are advised they will have only four minutes and then are warned: “Do not approach until you are bade to do so. Do not speak until you are addressed. Do not venture a remark unless it is to answer a comment or question.” When Elphaba comments that this sounds pretty aristocratic, Glinda warns her to keep quiet.
They proceed through a series of salons before they finally get to the inner chamber, where they see no sign of the Wizard. A “skeleton of dancing lights” appears before them along with pelts of rain and sounds of thunder. Finally a voice speaks to them from out of the thunder saying, “I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. . . . Who are you?”
Elphaba freezes, so it is Glinda who speaks first to reveal their names. This prompts Elphaba to continue, and she tells him they are students of Madame Morrible and are “in possession of some vital information.” The news she brings, she continues, concerns the murder of Dr. Dillamond and the suppression of the discoveries he was making. She has an “interest in the pursuit of justice,” which she hopes the Wizard shares, and believes that knowledge of Dr. Dillamond’s discoveries would cause him to change his treatment of Animals and his opinions about their rights.
The Wizard has only criticisms and put-downs of Dr. Dillamond to offer but Elphaba persists, presenting papers that she says detail the Doctor’s “Theory of Consciousness Inclination” and arguing that “no right-thinking ruler can afford to ignore the implica(tions).” Here the Wizard cuts her off, saying he is touched that she believes him to be right-thinking. Elphaba says that if she did not believe that, she would have to take up arms against him.
At this, Glinda tries to distance herself from Elphaba, not wanting to be branded a traitor. But Elphaba is fearless in speaking up for Animal rights and against the “repatriation . . . (and) chattelizing of free Beasts.” She calls the Wizard’s acts immoral, but the Wizard does not want to hear about morality. He then accuses the girls of being sent by Madame Morrible, saying they do not even realize they are pawns in her game. He warns them to “beware whom (they) serve,” then promptly departs, leaving them to retrace their steps to find their way out.
When the carriage arrives to take them back to Shiz, only Glinda gets in. To her dismay, Elphaba tells her that she is planning to stay in the Emerald City to go underground where she can join the resistance. She will not be part of Madame Morrible’s school again. Glinda tries to dissuade her, but Elphaba’s mind is already made up. She urges Glinda to “hold out, if (she) can,” then disappears into the crowded city streets.
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This section picks up five years later as Fiyero, who has just graduated from Shiz, makes a stop at the unionist chapel in Saint Glinda’s Square during a trip to the Emerald City on business. There he unexpectedly runs into Elphaba, who appears as a “penitent . . . at prayer.” She denies that it is her and to avoid speaking to him further she soon sneaks out a side door, but he follows her.
Although she is clearly trying to avoid anyone following her, Fiyero is a skilled hunter and manages to trail her to the poor side of town, where he calls out “Fabala”—her nickname—and she unthinkingly turns her head. Stuck, she invites him in for a brief visit. They pass her cat “Malky” in the stairwell. Fiyero teases her, asking, “Your familiar?” Elphaba replies that she would “as soon be thought a witch as anything else,” so she does not correct him.
Fiyero then tries to strike up a conversation by sharing a bit about his life, saying that he and his wife, Sarima, have three children and spend part of the year in the Thousand Year Grasslands and part at Kiamo Ko, the former Office of Public Works waterworks headquarters that his father had taken over and made his tribal stronghold. He is in town to work out some business trade agreements. He urges the silent Elphaba to reveal why she left Shiz so suddenly all those years ago, leaving her sister and Nanny distraught and with no explanation. She finally agrees to speak but warns him that he is never to come to this place again.
“I was fed up with Shiz,” she says. “The death of Doctor Dillamond vexed me, and everybody grieved and nobody cared. Not really. It wasn’t the right place for me anyway, all those silly girls.”
When he questions why she cut off even her own sister and Nanny, she says she “loved (them) too much to keep in touch,” and he guesses that she is working with some kind of resistance group. She admits as much but says she can give him no details. She rails against the many abuses going on in the city and the rights being taken away, and she worries that he could turn her in to a Gale Force soldier or lead them to her unknowingly. That is why, she insists, he can never come to see her again. When she hands him his coat and shakes his hand, he looks into her face and can see her need.
They meet again. This time Fiyero shares news of some of the others. Boq married Miss Milla and the two moved back to Nest Hardings. Tibbett never recovered from his night at the Philosophy Club; Crope joined the theater set and entered an arts auction house. Avaric is now installed as the Margreavate, with a house in both Shiz and the Emerald City.
She does not ask him any more about his family, nor does she speak of her family of “agitators and insurrectionists.” When he leaves, he resolves to wear an open-necked shirt the next time he visits since Elphaba had mentioned she liked the blue diamonds on his face and he wants her to see they continue down his chest.
Fiyero sends word to his wife that business is keeping him in the Emerald City, but he assures Elphaba that Sarima will not care—that she really does not notice whether he is there or not. “How could she care?” he asks. “Plucked out of a filthy caravansary and married as a small child to an Arjiki prince? Her family wasn’t stupid. She got food, servants, and the solid stone walls of Kiamo Ko for defense against other tribes.” Plus all five of her sisters moved in with her, so she always has company—and he has “a harem,” although he has never slept with any of the other sisters, mostly so his wife cannot use it against him.
This evening their affair begins. Elphaba still is very secretive about her work, and there are periods of time where they do not see each other, but ultimately they come together again: “Fiyero + Fae,” her code name. They enjoy their time together, but Elphaba will not let Fiyero see her naked body in the light, nor will she let him touch her below the waist. Fiyero realizes he is in love for the first time and is sad when they cannot be together. He continues to write weekly letters to his family and sometimes sends them gifts, largely to relieve his guilt.
Meanwhile the Wizard continues to push the Animals out of town, bank interest rates are soaring, and many houses are being foreclosed upon. One day Fiyero tells Elphaba the news he has heard about the army marching into Quadling Country, saying there is likely not much of the city of Qhoyreleft and wondering if her father, brother, and sister are still there. Elphaba says no—they had moved from Qhoyre to Ovvels in the outback long ago, so she expects they are safe.
Elphaba then talks briefly about her life among the Quadlings, recalling how her father had few converts but they liked to hear her sing. Under the Ozma Regent, speculators began strip mining the area looking for rubies, but the “murder and brutality” only started under the Wizard. When the Quadlings found no way to fight back, they rallied around Elphaba’s father, who converted them and led them into battle—many to their deaths. There was no outcry from Oz about the Quadling genocide.
While she resents much of what her father has done and had her do, Elphana still “love(s) the mad old tunnel-visioned bastard” just as she is devoted to Nessarose—even though she’s “a pain in the neck . . . intolerably righteous . . . (and) a nasty piece of work.” Her brother Shell is now about 15, but she cannot allow herself to think too much about them; her work is in the Emerald City. She expects that eventually Nessarose will become the next Eminent Thropp in Colwen Grounds since Elphaba has no desire to take her great-grandfather’s place when he dies.
Another day Elphaba becomes very angry when she sees Fiyero eating pork, saying it could easily come from a Pig. Not having known many Animals in his life, Fiyero is not as bothered by this as she is; mostly he is disturbed that he can no longer eat his lunch. From here they launch into a discussion of what wickedness and evil truly are, as well as how they are displayed by various people.
Elphaba hints that something big is about to happen—an assassination—and Fiyero challenges her, asking what will happen if some innocent bystander gets in the way. Elphaba tries to reason that “there will be . . . accidents . . . (but) any casualty of the struggle is their fault, not ours.” She cannot worry about individuals; her focus must be on the greater good. Fiyero finds this argument faulty, and they part that day without speaking.
When next they get together, Fiyero brings candles to decorate for Lurlinemas—something Elphaba has never done before but admits looks pretty. He then teases her that she “(has) no soul.” She puts up no argument, having long believed this about herself. Fiyero now takes the opposite side, saying of course she has a soul because she has a conscience. Elphaba says that what she has is “instinct . . . the movement in the gut toward food, fairness, and safety.”
Fiyero calls this argument “the most extreme argument for crime (he’s) ever heard” as she is “eschewing all personal responsibility.” He again brings up the innocent bystander argument, and Elphaba says that given the opportunity, she would “save the innocent bystander . . . but not at the expense of other, realer people. And if you can’t save them, you can’t. Everything costs.”
One afternoon soon after this, while getting coffee at a café that had experienced an explosion the night before, Fiyero has the opportunity to witness for himself some of the cruelty being exercised toward Animals. When he looks out the window, he sees a group of Quadlings, a family of Bears, and some stout Gillikenese men—all of whom appear to be prisoners—exiting a school building. Once outside, they all separate into their own groups, and Fiyero wonders why they do not work together to try to escape.
After about ten minutes, a Gale Force soldier emerges with a truncheon and Fiyero again wonders why they do not work as a team to fight back, twelve against one. Horrified, he watches as the soldier brings the club down on the head of the bear cub—and he realizes the explosion was probably a failed attempt to free the group before something like this could happen.
When next he sees Elphaba, he wants to tell her about what he saw, but he realizes she does not want him to join her in that part of her life. She also tells him that she is going to need two weeks of privacy during which he cannot see her at all because there is “going to be an episode” and she needs to be available at a moment’s notice. Even she is not sure what her role will be; “It’s a complicated maneuver with a lot of interlocking pieces” and they only tell each person as much as is needed so that if caught, the information cannot be tortured out of them. She admits their ultimate object: to kill the Wizard.
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As Lurlinemas approaches, Fiyero wanders the city, unable to see Elphaba and confused about his life. As he is buying scarves in a shop for both Elphaba and his wife, he runs into Glinda and Crope. Glinda insists they go for tea after making her purchases—all of which she puts on the account of her husband, Sir Chuffrey, “holder of the most useless title and the biggest stock portfolio in the Pertha Hills.” At tea, when she learns Fiyero’s wife is not with him, she immediately accuses him of having an affair “because (he) look(s) so happy.”
He quickly turns the conversation back to her and she talks about sorcery, her husband, her lack of children, and running into Nessarose and Nanny recently at their family home in the Emerald City. She invites Fiyero to come for dinner, but he says he doubts he will be able to do so. As they part, she says in reference to Elphaba, “If you should see her, tell her I miss her still,” seeming to suspect that Fiyero and Elphaba are in contact.
When two weeks have passed, Fiyero anxiously goes to see Elphaba again and finds her making a vegetable pie for him. He does not tell her about running into Glinda or hearing that her sister was in town—he knows she has enough on her mind right now.
Later that night she suggests he might want to be out of town on Lurlinemas Eve—something big is going to happen although she is not sure exactly what. At a minimum, he should “stay away from anything social . . . theater or crowds or even restaurants.” Neither should he wait at her apartment for her. When he questions what he has to live for, she tells him she loves him.
He promises to be careful but that night, he follows her. She is dressed in a long, dark skirt; a dark scarf pulled over her mouth; tight-fitting gloves; and a “tall wide-brimmed hat with a crown like a cone.” She walks through many parts of the city, making a brief stop at the chapel of Saint Glinda (he guesses for last-minute instructions), but ultimately marches away from the location where he knows the Wizard to be, so Fiyero supposes she is either part of a diversionary tactic or is aiming to kill some lesser accomplice.
Elphaba continues until she reaches a fashionable part of the city called Goldhaven, where she stops near a theater named the Lady’s Mystique. There she waits and Fiyero watches—“he (doesn’t) know if he (is) there to prevent what she (is) about to do, or to save whomever he could from the catastrophe, or to tend anyone hurt accidentally, or even maybe just to witness it, so he could know more about her. And love her or not love her, but know which of the two it was.”
Fiyero watches as Elphaba circles through the crowd, then as she zeroes in on a carriage that is just arriving. Out of the carriage steps Madame Morrible, and Fiyero realizes why Elphaba is the perfect person for this job: if she is caught, they can just write her off as an angry former student. He observes Elphaba reach under her cloak, seeming to prepare to take action before Madame Morrible enters the theater. However, before she can act, the front doors of the school next door open, and a group of students swarm out, blocking the way. Elphaba faces the test of what to do with these innocent bystanders: they are the “accidental context—noisy, innocent daughters of tycoons, despots, and butcher generals.”
As Elphaba stands there frozen, Madame Morrible safely enters the theater and Fiyero watches as Elphaba crumbles, “shivering with self-loathing so violently that Fiyero could see it from fifty yards away.” He tries to push his way to her but loses her in the crowd, then worries that perhaps she has been picked up by the Gale Force.
He hails a cab and has the driver take him directly to Elphaba’s hideout. Once inside, he builds a fire but then he notices moving shadows; before he can react, a group of Gale Force soldiers bring their clubs down on his head, causing his blood to spill throughout the apartment.
Elphaba’s response upon seeing the results of the attack is not shown; instead, the reader learns that a figure appears at the mauntery next to the Church of Saint Glinda—a figure with “darting eyes” and “blood on (her) odd green wrists.” The maunt who opens the doors invites her in rather begrudgingly, anxious to continue with her own Lurlinemas celebration. She tries to help the woman wash the blood off her hands, but the woman recoils from the water, so she wipes away what she can then takes her to the “winter salon, where the old retired biddies (live) out their lives in a haze of amnesia.” She says she will return for her after midnight, when the vigil service is concluded.
As the broken woman sits there, one of the old maunts approaches her. She reaches out and touches Elphaba’s hand. “The poor dolly is sick, the poor dolly is tired . . . the poor dolly is in pain . . . the poor dolly is faint, the poor dolly is faltering. . . . The poor poppet is failure itself.” Then she urges Elphaba to come to her for comfort, promising to “set things right”—she just needs to trust in old Mother Yackle.
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After seven years of leading the solitary life of a maunt, with two years in town and five years at the Cloister of Saint Glinda in the Shale Shallows twelve miles outside the Emerald City, Sister Saint Aelphaba leaves the Cloister with some clothes, a basket of simples, some paper, a pen, and a broom given to her by Mother Yackle.
She joins the Grasstrail Train, bound for the Vinkus, to “conduct an exercise in expiation,” for she feels “there is a penalty to pay before (she) may find peace.” The Superior Maunt provides the needed payment to the driver, Oatsie Manglehand, who believes it is especially generous until she realizes the “small, chunky ragamuffin boy behind the trunk” is coming, too.
Once on the road, Oatsie explains their route, which will take them “south along the edge of Kellswater, west through Kumbricia’s pass, northwest through the Thousand Year Grasslands, stopping at Kiamo Ko, and then wintering a bit farther northwest.” She also reminds them that these are uncivilized lands filled with various tribal groups, and they will need to trust each other and stick together. She asks the Sister what she would prefer to be called, and she says “Elphie.” When asked for the boy’s name, Elphaba merely shrugs. To Oatsie, it appears the boy is her page, for he attends to her various needs but the two never speak.
After some time of traveling, Elphie finds her own thoughts returning to her. The seven years as a maunt all blend together—washing floors, making wine, caring for the sick and infirm. Three years she had spent in absolute silence and two in whispers; the final two, she had been moved up to work in the ward for incurables. It was there she encountered the “pale invalid Tibbett.” He recognized Elphaba at once—“he joked, he remembered stories, he criticized old friends for abandoning him . . . (and) under the scrutiny of his tired frame she was recreated, against her will, as an individual.” When he finally died, the Superior Maunt told her it was time for her to move on.
The others in the group all have their own reasons for traveling to such a faraway place. They also bring many animals with them, including a dog named Killyjoy that belongs to the cook but takes a liking to the boy. Oatsie hears the boy tell the dog, “I’m Liir.” The cook does not like that his dog prefers someone else. Elphaba does not like the cook and tries to get him fired, but Oatsie has other things on her mind as they approach Kumbricia Pass. As they go through the forest, Elphaba sees a dead tree filled with a community of bees; she talks to the bees, and they follow her—the first of various creatures she gathers to herself.
One night, the group starts discussing the various legends about the Kumbric Witch and the Fairy Queen Lurline, debating which came first. Igo, an old man who is part of the group, reminds them that according to the Oziad, “the Dragon of Time created the sun and the moon, and Lurline cursed them and said that their children wouldn’t know their own parents, and then the Kumbric Witch came along and the flood, the battle, the spilling of evil in the world.”
Oatsie disagrees and says that “in folk memory evil always predates good.” As she explains, “To the grim poor there need be no pour quoi tale about where evil arises; it just arises; it always is. One never learns how the witch became wicked, or whether that was the right choice for her.” Elphaba grows uncomfortable with the conversation as it reminds her too much of her youth. She believes that evil is not something that can be proven, just as she believes the Kumbric Witch—that archetype of all witches—is “beyond the grasp of knowable history.”
Soon the guide, or rafiqi, for whom they are waiting arrives. They need his help to pass through the various tribal lands. He tells them there might be trouble with the Yunamata tribe because the Emerald City has conducted several recent Winkie roundups.
As they journey on, even the bees stop humming. Then one night the cook disappears, leaving them to wonder whether he wandered off or was taken by the Yunamata. Several days later, the Yunamata arrive, hospitably bringing gifts and inviting the group to join them in dance. They remind Elphaba of the Quadlings she has known. They leave in the morning after confirming they know nothing about the cook.
As the group leaves Kumbricia Pass, a Yunamata messenger arrives with the news that a man’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff, swollen with lesions. The rest of the group turns on Elphaba, blaming the bees for the cook’s demise. She insists they have been sleeping and cannot be held responsible. But she is not sad about the cook’s death, and Liir is happy to have Killyjoy to himself.
As they approach the Grasslands, they see the first of the Scrow, and Elphaba realizes she is filled with excitement for the first time in a long time. She also notices how Liir idolizes the rafiqi and thinks: “Such silly things, children—and so embarrassing—because they keep changing themselves out of shame, out of a need to be loved or something. While animals are born who they are, accept it, and that is that. They live with greater peace than people do.” She realizes how much she prefers animals.
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The following day they meet up with the Scrow, who carry a large palanquin filled with “a huge slab of an old woman” with two crows on her shoulders. She is the Princess Nastoya, “the filthiest, least-educated princess anyone had ever seen, yet she had some dignity.” The Princess’s tent is at the middle of the Scrow camp, and she invites five members of the group to join her at the Scrow Shrine: Oatsie, the rafiqi, Igo, a man named Pinchweed, and Elphaba.
Elphaba is caught up in the wonder of it all. When the group arrives, they see the Princess Nastoya dressed in a native costume, surrounded by crows. When she lets her toweled garment drop, she reveals herself to be an Elephant. She then proceeds to ask each member why they are there.
Considering the situation, Elphaba realizes she needs to speak. She says:
“To retire from the world after making sure of the safety of the survivors of my lover. To face his widow, Sarima, in guilt and responsibility, and then to remove myself from the darkening world.”
At this the Elephant tells everyone else but Elphaba and the rafiqi to leave the room and she addresses Elphaba directly, explaining that she herself is under a spell. Because Animals are being hunted, she “chooses magical incarceration as a human over the dangerous liberty of (her) own powerful form.” She wants to help Elphaba, so she gives her three crows to serve as her “familiars” since she is choosing to disguise herself as a witch.
Elphaba is surprised to hear she is viewed as a witch, wondering what her father would think, but she appreciates the gesture. Since they have the same enemy, the Princess promises if possible to send help to Elphaba if she ever needs it—she only need send word through the crows.
She also reminds Elphaba of the strength that is within her, for “something told those bees to kill the cook.” Elphaba grows pale at these words, not wanting to believe she is responsible, but the Princess Nastoya knows there is more to her than she recognizes. She also reaches out her trunk, places it on Elphaba’s shoulders, and says to her, “Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.”
In the next chapter they say goodbye to the Scrow as well as to Igo, who dies along the way; then they enter Arjiki tribal lands. At the approach of the first Arjiki band a few days later, Elphaba’s heart is torn apart by “their handsome look . . . their wildness, (and) their otherness.”
Thoughts of Fiyero consume her as they approach his family home of Kiamo Ko, only one week away. Enjoying the view of herself as a witch, Elphaba now travels alone in her own wagon with the bees, the dog, and the crows; all the others stay together in the other wagon.
Soon she is joined by yet another animal after rescuing what looks like a baby from the jaws of Killyjoy. To get to the creature, she must run across the water to a small island where the dog has swum. As she runs, the water below her turns to ice.
When she arrives, she discovers the “baby” is actually a small snow money, which she later names Chistery. When they finally arrive at Kiamo Ko, Elphaba gets out of the carriage along with the crows, the monkey, the bees, and the dog. When Liir follows, she says, “Oh, so you’re stopping here, are you? . . . With me?” He says he has nowhere else to go and offers to help take care of the dog and bees. He then goes with her toward his father’s house.
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Inside the house Sarima’s youngest sister, Six, wakes her up to let her know they have a houseguest—a woman “green as sin, thin and crooked, older than any of us. Dressed in black like an old maunt.” She wants to know what they should prepare for dinner; Sarima readies herself to welcome the guest. She puts on one of the scarves that had arrived unexpectedly in the mail from her husband “several months after the Incident.”
Sarima next checks on her children: sons Irji, 12, and Manek, 11; and daughter Nor, 9. She has had to watch over them all very carefully out of fear that another clansman might try to claim leadership of the tribe by killing them off. They tell her that a boy has also arrived. Manek has already thrown stones at him “to see how far they would bounce off him” and “made him pull down his trousers so (they) could make sure his thing wasn’t green.” Liir had done nothing to retaliate. Sarima expresses her disapproval, then tells them the story of the “Witch and the fox babies” before going downstairs to greet her guest.
After brief introductions, with Elphaba holding back her name, Sarima invites her to stay for a meal. Elphaba insists that she can do nothing until they speak. She is anxious to present her confession, blurting out that “(she) was the cause of Fiyero’s death,” but Sarima will have none of it. No matter how anxious Elphaba is to tell her tale, she cannot speak “unless (Sarima) want(s) to hear it, which is (her) prerogative. This is (her) house and (she) choose(s) to hear what (she) want(s).”
Elphaba pleads, saying that Sarima must listen for she needs her forgiveness. Sarima leaves her to carry that burden a while longer—and correctly guesses that she must be Elphaba, the one who Fiyero said did not believe in the soul. So why, she pointedly asks, is she so worried about forgiveness?
At dinner Sarima introduces Elphaba as “Auntie Guest.” The sisters are only known by their numbers: Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six. Elphaba does not speak during the meal, and she appears miserable as they later sit in the Music Room listening to the youngest sister sing. Sarima holds out hope that Elphaba might be someone she can eventually talk to about her troubling life.
As time passes, the sisters begin calling Elphaba “Auntie Witch,” and the children become very curious about her habits and abilities. They question Liir to learn more about her “familiars” and to find out if her broom is magic. He says that it is. The boys, especially Manek, are very mean to Liir, but Nor often stands up for him.
A week after her arrival, Sarima asks Elphaba about her intentions in terms of her visit. It is obvious that Elphaba did not really think beyond her initial objective: to confess her affair and ask forgiveness. Now winter has set in, and it is impossible to travel through the Vinkus passes. She mentions that she had heard rumors of caves in the Kells, in which she might stay. But this is not a very practical alternative.
Since it looks like she will be there for some time, Sarima wants to get some things straight. She recognizes that Elphaba has come to “relieve (herself) of some sad business or other,” for she looks like someone carrying a burden. But Sarima does not want to have Elphaba’s burden laid at her feet. She knows her husband died in a violent attack and that his body was never found. She also knows “it was in a little love nest,” and she has long suspected Glinda. She finally issues her final word: she will not discuss her husband or her husband’s death with Elphaba.
Elphaba is horrified to hear this, but she is determined to eventually win Sarima over and change her mind. In the meantime, Sarima offers to let Elphaba and Liir move into the southeast tower for the winter. Elphaba accepts, and the women look at each other with both “respect and suspicion.”
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Elphaba enjoys her tower room with its large window that looks out onto the Kells. She does not, however, enjoy the company of the sisters and tries to avoid everyone but Sarima as much as possible. She has no idea where Liir sleeps, but he appears every morning to bring her cocoa and help with the crows.
One morning near Lurlinemas, a commotion arises when Chistery gets into the kitchen. Only Elphaba can finally calm him down, but she wonders how he got out of her room and is upset to find that Nor had gone into her room to get some of her paper. She leaves in a rage, and the others go back to decorating for the holiday.
In the morning, Sarima’s three children all have a basket of gifts left for them by Lurline and Preenella; Liir has none. When Irji suggests that perhaps they left it at his old house and asks where he used to live, Liir starts to cry and tells them he does not know. Nor shares parts of her gingerbread mouse with him. The children and sisters then sing songs together. Elphaba never appears and says she is taking a “few days in solitary comfort.” Sarima spends the day in her private chapel, remembering her husband.
Part Four picks up a few weeks later. While the children are having snow battles outside, Elphaba appears to the sisters and apologizes for her earlier outburst over Chistery. She also uses the opportunity to ask them about Sarima and how she learned of Fiyero’s death.
They hesitantly begin speaking, saying she learned of it from an Arjiki trader who came through the following spring. He recounted how he had received an anonymous message that Fiyero had been murdered. He hired some brutes to go with him to the address, where they broke down the door and found “evidence of struggle and massive quantities of blood” but no body.
For a year Sarima refused to believe he was dead, thinking that any day they might receive a ransom note. But when none came, they had to accept the worst. Now, it will be up to Irji to claim his rights to leadership when he comes of age—but the sisters all agree that Manek would be a better candidate.
As for what Sarima believes, they admit she thought Fiyero might be having an affair with Glinda and that Glinda’s husband found out and had Fiyero followed, then killed. The sisters, however, think he might have gotten involved in some political enterprise and that perhaps his body was taken because he was not quite dead yet, and they wanted to torture him to try to get information from him.
When Elphaba tries to tell them what she knows, the sisters respond that they are “under the strictest orders from (Sarima)” not to discuss Fiyero’s death with her. Elphaba sadly leaves them—and they curse their sister for not allowing them this chance to gossip.
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As winter wears on, Elphaba begins wearing her hat more often to keep ice from falling on her, and the sisters entertain themselves by rereading the romantic novel Fiyero had at one time sent them, which they have read over and over for many years.
One afternoon, Sarima and Elphaba stumble upon each other in an unused room, where Elphaba has discovered some old books. One especially catches her interest: a beautifully crafted Grimmerie, “a sort of encyclopedia of things numinous. Magic; and of the other spirit world; and of things seen and unseen; and of things once and future.” The book itself seems magical, as it scrambles itself as one looks at it. Elphaba can only make out a few lines.
Sarima, who had forgotten about the book, now recalls that it was given to her more than ten years ago by an old man who said he was a sorcerer. After she had given him a meal and a bath, he gave her the book—a book, he said, which “was a book of knowledge . . . that belonged in another world, but it wasn’t safe there.” He had brought it to this world in hopes of hiding it, keeping it “out of harm’s way,” and he believed the isolated and fortress-like Kiamo Ko would be the perfect place. The man, she recalls, spoke with an accent and wore a strange tunic.
Elphaba, who is very curious about the book, proposes that perhaps he was someone loyal to the Ozma Regent, who brought the book—an ancient Lurlinist Tract—to Kiamo Ko for safekeeping until Ozma Tipperarius could be restored. Sarima does not believe this, but since he did not say not to read it, she lets Elphaba take it.
The next chapter picks up one day when the children are bored with their lessons and agree to play hide-and-seek. Manek picks the best hiding place and cannot be found—the children finally give up in the house and head down to the basement, where Irji says there are “tunnels from here all the way to hell” because Kiamo Ko used to be a waterworks headquarters. While there, he points out the fishwell where they get all their fish to eat. Once, Irji reports, Six saw a gold carp in there.
The children finally find Manek on the steps outside Elphaba’s room, where he is spying on Auntie Witch. They see that she has her finger in a book and is mumbling to herself. Manek says she is trying to teach Chistery to talk. When Liir looks in, he overhears her speaking to Chistery, urging him to “remember how to speak,” saying, “You are animal, but Animal is your cousin, damn you. Say spirit.” Chistery responds with “Spit . . . speared . . . spared. Spored. Sput.” But still Elphaba does not give up; she sees this as her way to continue Dr. Dillamond’s work.
On another day when all of them are feeling bored, Sarima suggests they go skating on a nearby pond, and they dig out their old skates, boots, and mittens. The villagers are surprised to see the family, who do not emerge often from Kiamo Ko, but soon they are all having fun—even Elphaba.
After the adults are tired out, they sit down, and Sarima asks Elphaba about her “magic” broom, which she had brought along to help her skate. Elphaba explains that she got it from Mother Yackle at the mauntery, who said “the broom would be (Elphaba’s) link to (her) destiny.” She has never understood exactly what Yackle meant by that.
When Nor joins them, she asks her mother to again tell the story of the Witch and the Fox Babies, and this time Elphaba listens in. She has never heard the story before. When it gets to the end, as usual, Sarima says, “And there the wicked old Witch stayed, for a good long time,” and Nor responds, “Did she ever come out?” To this, Sarima says, “Not yet.”
Elphaba breaks in, saying she finds it “shameful . . . to propose an afterlife for evil” or any afterlife for that matter, but Sarima stops her from saying more, saying that Fiyero is waiting for her in that afterlife. Elphaba is surprised and silenced by her words.
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The children continue to be curious about Elphaba’s efforts to teach Chistery to speak; they wonder if she is crazy or truly magical. One day while she is out of the room, they sneak in and try talking to Chistery themselves. He can only roughly mimic their words. As they are speaking, she catches them in the act. Much to their surprise and joy, she does not get angry with them—she simply tells them they are not allowed in there, so they leave. They decide after this that they are no longer afraid of her.
In the next chapter, on another rainy afternoon, the children again play hide-and-seek. This time, though, Manek criticizes Liir for not being able to hide well, then tells him he will help him to hide. Manek leads him down to the basement, where he lowers him into the fishwell and covers it with the lid. Liir is fearful, but Manek promises to hide nearby and assures Liir that Nor will never find him here.
Meanwhile, Elphaba goes to Sarima to complain that her children are undisciplined and “ungovernable”—they bother Chistery, they go through her things, and they do not listen when spoken to. They ought to be in school.
Sarima, however, does not believe this is possible because she thinks that at school, their lives might be in danger. She and Elphaba begin to debate the evilness versus innocence of children, but their conversation is interrupted by the news that a caravan is approaching. They excitedly discuss who could be approaching over dinner. When Four asks where Liir is, the children say they do not know—they were playing together earlier. Instead of reporting what he knows, Manek suggests they build a bonfire to welcome the travelers.
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The next day, much to Elphaba’s surprise, Nanny emerges from the carriage that has just arrived. All of the sisters are surprised to see Auntie Guest so overcome with emotion. A delicious dinner is served, with all the adults and children dressed in their best clothes. Liir is still missing.
Nanny explains how she found Elphaba. One day while in the Emerald City, she ran into Crope, who said that Elphaba had tended to Tibbett in his final days at the Cloister of Saint Glinda. Nanny went to speak to the maunts, who finally told her where Elphaba had last been headed.
She also brings the news that the Wizard has crowned himself Emperor and that there is now an “enforced conscription,” with the Gale Force almost outnumbering the Royal Army. There are also questions about his expansionist aims, and Elphaba worries that perhaps he might tighten his grip on the Vinkus.
The sisters are glad to finally learn Auntie Guest’s real name, and Five reminds them of the story of Saint Aelphaba of the Waterfall, who had to hide behind the waterfall to get away from the wild beasts and men who threatened her and to find the privacy to pray, read her holy scriptures, and eat her single bunch of grapes. When she finally emerged hundreds of years later, she blessed the children and elderly, heard confessions, healed the sick, then went back to her waterfall. There they built a chapel in her honor.
To this Sarima says, “So you can disappear and not be dead,” thinking of her husband. More to the point, Nor and Irji burst into the room saying they have found Liir. They did so with Chistery’s help because the monkey wrinkled up his nose when they passed by the fishwell When they finally retrieved Liir from the bucket, he appeared “like a corpse left in a stream, bloated.”
Elphaba sends the children away, immediately suspecting Manek of being behind the mischief. The sisters urge her to use magic to bring Liir back and she desperately looks through the Grimmerie for guidance, but it is Nanny who steps in with more practical advice, telling her to “put (her) mouth on his and push air into his lungs.”
Soon, Liir begins to choke and his eyelids move. Nanny continues giving directions, telling them to get him out of his wet clothes and put him to bed. None of the adults knows where Liir sleeps; the children, who are listening upstairs, say that sometimes he sleeps on their floor. This leads Nanny to call all of them “barbarians” and to offer her own bed. When Liir finally speaks, he says the gold fish talked to him, but Nanny tells him to be quiet and rest.
The next day, after Sarima and Elphaba are finished blaming each other for what happened to Liir, they begin discussing the differences between girls and boys. Sarima uses this opportunity to talk about the differences between hot anger, mostly felt by boys, and cold anger, felt by girls. “Boys,” she says, “need hot anger to survive. They need the inclination to fight, the drive to sink the knife into the flesh, the energy and initiative of fury. It’s a requirement of hunting, of defense, of pride. Maybe of sex, too.”
Girls, by contrast, need cold anger:
They need the cold simmer, the ceaseless grudge, the talent to avoid forgiveness, the sidestepping of compromise. . . . Cold anger requires an eternal vigilance in all matters of slight and offense.
Sarima demonstrates this kind of anger in her refusal to let Elphaba confess and find forgiveness and in her “unspoken accusations about Fiyero, about Liir.”
The next day, Elphaba continues pondering the different types of anger she has encountered as well as how hot and cold can at times work together. And as the warmth of the sun beats down on the snow, forming icicles, Elphaba fixes her gaze on one of the icicles, and it breaks free and pierces Manek in the skull.
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One afternoon, after things have quieted down because at Nanny’s insistence the children have started school, Elphaba and Nanny take a walk. Nanny tells her about her family. Nessarose has taken over as Eminent Thropp since their great grandfather finally died and Elphaba is presumed dead. Their father lives there, too, having finally given up the ministry. Her brother Shell is rumored to be an agitator for Munchkinland independence, but Nessarose guards her words carefully, not taking a clear stand for or against independence. Nanny suspects her of wanting to start her own theocracy.
When Nanny says Nessarose is “adept” at what she does, it reminds Elphaba of Madame Morrible’s words to them so long ago, and she wonders if all of them are pawns in Madame Morrible’s game. This thought is only strengthened by her memory of what Liir said about the fish he saw in the fishwell: “The fish told me she was magic. She said that Fiyero was my father, and that Irji and Manek and Nor are my brothers and my sister.” Sarima calls the boy “silly . . . (and) delusional,” but Elphaba feels more drawn to him than she ever has, even reaching out to touch his shoulder.
Another day, Nanny tells Elphaba that Nessarose can now stand on her own two feet—literally. Some years back, Glinda cast a spell on the beautiful shoes that Frex had sent to Nessarose while she was a Shiz, and the shoes now allow her to stand on her own.
Nanny also questions Elphaba about Liir, asking her if he is her son. Elphaba says she cannot answer that question with certainty. She recounts how, when she first went to the mauntery, she “was in no state to know what was happening . . . (and) spent about a year in a deathly sleep.” It is possible that during that time she had a child.
It took her another year to recover, Elphaba explains, and once she started working with the sick, the dying, and the abandoned children, Liir was just another one of the children surrounding her. When she left the mauntery, she was told to take Liir with her.
When Nanny suggests that perhaps Elphaba has “an obligation to be motherly to him . . . despite the mystery,” Elphaba resists. And a;though Nanny says she is too old to raise another generation of Thropps, after this she begins tending to Liir’s needs more lovingly than she had before.
Having also heard from Nanny that the Wizard has started a new kind of youth camp called “the Emperor’s Garden,” which seeks to indoctrinate young Munchkinlander children, Elphaba again turns to the Grimmerie, looking for answers. She looks for a “recipe for the overthrow of a regime,” but she finds little on strategy. What she does find is a small drawing in a section on “Evil Particulars” of a “broad-faced woman-fiend . . . (named) Yakal Snarling.” The figure reminds her of Mother Yackle.
While Elphaba is not saddened by Manek’s death, the rest of the family struggles with grief. The sisters realize they had pinned their hopes on him “restor(ing) the fallen fortunes of Kiamo Ko.” Irji and Nor, who had often banded together to stand against Manek, no longer share this bond, and Nor begins wandering more on her own. One day, when out on her own, she runs into a group of soldiers. Bravely, she greets them and leads them back to Kiamo Ko, where Elphaba yells at them to not come any closer until she comes down.
A man named Commander Cherrystone introduces himself and says they have orders from the Emperor to survey the passes to the Thousand Year Grasslands. He and his army need to requisition a large house for shelter while they are in the Kells. Elphaba says they are not welcome, but Sarima says they do not turn guests away. She invites them in, then later calls upon her neighbors to help with the feeding of the troops. She seems unperturbed by their presence, while Elphaba is furious. Liir is enthralled by Commander Cherrystone and follows him around, helping him in any ways possible.
Elphaba shares her concerns with Nanny, saying she is worried that the presence of the Wizard’s troops in the Vinkus proves he has some big campaign in mind, recalling how they witnessed the extermination of the Quadlings years ago. Nanny says she cannot worry about the world: she has to “look after (her) young.” She then reminisces about Elphaba’s mother Melena, recalling how she had hoped to only have sons to avoid any of them having to take on the position of Eminent Thropp (which runs through the female line). Melena herself had run away with her first suitor—Frex—to avoid having to take on that responsibility.
Nanny also recalls how she went to town after Elphaba’s birth to buy an elixir to keep Melena’s next child from being green—and how she had bought some tablets from a “gypsy woman (who) made some silly prophecy about two sisters bring instrumental in the history of Oz.”
She admits that she has always wondered if the pills caused Nessarose’s deformity. She also raises the possibility that Turtle Heart was Nessarose’s real father. This, along with Nanny’s reference to the gypsy woman as “that old Yackle person,” shocks and annoys Elphaba. She cannot help wondering if the various Yackle figures are connected. She also cannot help wondering whether Nessarose resents having to take on the position of Eminent Thropp.
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As the troops settle in, Nor finds herself often alone. Liir spends his time following after the soldiers, serving as their waterboy; Irji spends his time composing religious songs for Lurlina; and her aunts spend most of their time in their rooms, uncertain of how to behave around the men in residence. Although they would all love to be free to “court” the young men, none of them can be married until Sarima remarries, and she seems to have no interest in doing so.
Bored, Nor begins hanging around the men’s dormitory, helping with chores whenever needed. One day, she steals Elphaba’s broom because she likes “its thicker brush and longer handle,” and she wants to do a full cleaning of the rooms while the men are gone. While seated, she reaches out toward the broom, and it starts to move toward her. She realizes that it is magic.
Soon the broom starts hovering, and she climbs on. Before she knows what is happening, it takes off and carries her through the window of the barracks, higher and higher into the sky, until it stops in front of Elphaba’s window. She and Nanny see Nor and yell for her to come down. The broom responds to these words and returns her to the floor of the men’s barracks. Fearful, Nor grabs the now lifeless broom and returns in to Elphaba, who proceeds to chasten Nor, then warns her to stay away from the soldiers—but not before asking her about the plans, maps, and letters Nor saw in the barracks.
This episode gets Elphaba thinking about the broom, which had originally been given to her by Mother Yackle, and she wonders whether it was “magicked” by her or whether Nor has some hidden ability starting to develop within her. Curious whether it will fly for her too, Elphaba begins attempting to make it fly, and after many days, she finally gets it to hover. Finally, after threatening it with fire, it carries her up into the sky, making her feel like “a night angel.”
In midsummer, a letter arrives by way of the mauntery for Nanny and Elphaba from Frex, informing them that Nessarose has orchestrated a revolt and that Munchkinland has seceded from Oz. Nessarose, now the Eminent Thropp, is serving as the head of state.
Frex’s letter, however, suggests that perhaps this is a position better suited to Elphaba. His concerns surprise Elphaba, but she is also excited by the news that Munchkinland is “free of the Wizard’s iron grip,” and she decides that maybe it is time to pay her family a visit. After all, it has been twelve years since she last saw her sister at Shiz, and with the broom’s help, she can quickly and secretly fly by night to Colwen Grounds. She does not tell anyone at Kiamo Ko her plans—she simply tells them she will be “taking a period of isolation in her tower” for a while.
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Elphaba sleeps by day and flies by night. As she gets further east, she can see that the drought’s effects are no longer visible and the farmlands are again lush. She also sees that the further east she goes, the more torn up the Yellow Brick Road is.
When she finally arrives in Colwen Grounds, she asks for directions to the “great house” and is shocked when she sees its grandeur. The guards are about to send her away when someone calls out “Fabala,” and she sees her father coming to greet her warmly. The two proceed to share news of their lives, and her father explains how the secession finally came about—with Nessarose gathering support for such an act after the Wizard’s troops had burned an opposition meeting house, raped some Munchkinlander women, heavily taxed the farms, and participated in the Massacre at Far Applerue.
His concerns now, he explains, are that “Nessie is at the mercy of her religious voices, and she could slip and undo the terrible good she is helping to create right now by being a focal figure for resistance.” He hopes Elphaba, with her “cunning and (her) conviction,” will stay and join her sister in ruling Munchkinland.
Because the Wizard has not yet retaliated for their secession, he thinks Nessarose and the Munchkinlanders have been deluded into thinking they are safe, and they need Elphaba’s clearer mind to help them prepare for what he sees as the inevitable response. His new pragmatism surprises Elphaba. He also worries that Nessarose, with her magicked shoes, “thinks she needs no one, to help her stand or help her govern,” and for this reason he believes the shoes are dangerous.
When Elphaba admits for the first time that she wishes her father had made the shoes for her, he tells her, “You didn’t need them. You had your voice, your intensity, even your cruelty as your armor.” Elphaba recoils as this idea of “her cruelty,” but Frex recalls how as a baby, she was a “fiendish thing,” and it was only after holding and spending time with her sister that she began to calm down. He also tells her about her brother, Shell, who is now serving as a spy behind enemy lines. Frex predicts Shell will not live long, being a foolish and stubborn boy.
After this, Elphaba goes to visit her sister and finds her in an upstairs parlor. Nessarose, not completely surprised, stands to greet her. And although she recalls how angry she was when Elphaba first left her alone at Shiz and how lonely she was after Glinda graduated, she says her faith saw her through. Elphaba congratulates her on her new position, and Nessarose suggests they go for a walk in the garden.
As she spends time with Nessarose, Elphaba begins to become more concerned about her sister’s leadership style. Her discomfort only grows after witnessing an exchange between Nessarose and an old woman from a nearby hamlet. The obsequious old woman complains that her maid has fallen in love with a woodman, later discovered to be named Nick Chopper, and now wants to leave her service. The woman does not want to lose her maid and begs for Nessrarose’s help in killing off the woodman—promising two Animals in return.
Elphaba is extremely upset to learn that the Animals—a Sheep and Cow—are tethered out back and that they are treated as “no more than chattel.” Nessarose does not seem too concerned about the animals and suggests that she could bewitch his axe so that it slips and cuts off his arm. This, she thinks, will be enough to cause the maid to call off the marriage. The woman leaves happily with her bewitched axe after gratefully thanking the “Witch of the East,” and Nessarose defends her actions to Elphaba.
Soon after this, Elphaba seeks out the Sheep and the Cow, and while the Cow hesitantly speaks to her, she learns the Sheep has gone mute. Elphaba says she has come to free them and tells them of her past work for Animal rights, but the Cow says there is nowhere they can go to be safe. He predicts they will end up as sacrifices in a religious ritual or served up for dinner, and while Elphaba objects, saying that cannot possibly be true, he tells her how times have changed. In particular, he blames “the rise of tiktokism (for) the erosion of traditional Animal labor” as well as the Wizard’s evil work abroad. Nevertheless, when Elphaba opens the gate, both Animals exit the stable.
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With Nessarose busy with another meeting, Elphaba goes for a walk with her father and pointedly asks him why he sent for her. He tells her directly that he thinks she would make a better Eminent Thropp than her sister and reminds her that it is her birthright. He also worries that Nessarose is “too devout to be a central figure in public life,” that she does not know how to relate well to others, and that Elphaba would be a much more capable ruler and would better meet their current needs.
As they are walking, the two of them see a couple of farmhands erecting a scarecrow in the cornfield. Elphaba notices they are wearing something like a talisman on their necks, and Frex explains that it is the “straw man . . . another pagan custom that had almost gone underground, and then was revived during the Great Drought.” The straw man is meant to be a charm against drought, crows, insects, and rot—and it was once associated with human sacrifice.
Frex then recalls how Turtle Heart the Quadling was butchered right there in Colwen Grounds on the day of Nessarose’s birth after the local population, incited by the itinerant dwarf and his tiktok clock, attacked him. Elphaba uses this opportunity to accuse her father of being in love with Turtle Heart—and he readily admits it, saying he and Melena shared him. When she suggests Frex return with her to the Vinkus, he says he could never leave Nessarose—even if, as Elphaba proposes, she is not his daughter. Through Nessarose, Elphaba realizes, he feels connected to Turtle Heart.
Later Nessarose also tries to encourage Elphaba to stay and act as a “sister-at-arms,” helping her to rule Oz. However, Elphaba has no desire to stay and says that Nessarose seems to be doing fine on her own—that her shoes have made her strong. At this, Nessie announces that she will change her will to leave her shoes to her sister when she dies.
What ensues after this is a conversation in which Elphaba challenges Nessrarose to remember the conversation they had with Madame Morrible years ago. She wonders if, perhaps, they are somehow unknowingly living out some collusive plan she had for them—after all, she had wanted Elphaba, Glinda, and Nessarose to serve as Adepts for the Wizard, and they are now two witches and a sorceress.
Nessarose insists that Madame Morrible only predicted what might happen based on their talents. When Elphaba also reiterates her earlier belief that she has no soul, Nessarose contradicts this as well, then says she will pray for her soul. Elphaba then announces her plans to return to the Vinkus and says she will wait for the shoes.
On her flight home, Elphaba ponders the nature of everything—evil, good, life, and the world in general. Then she questions “who (is) in thrall to whom, really?” and wonders about the Wizard, Madame Morrible, Nessarose, Glinda, herself, Yackle, the Kumbric Witch, and even old Kumbricia herself. Who is really in charge? All of these questions make her eager to look again at Dr. Dillamond’s notes, hoping she might find some answers in his work.
As soon as she returns to Kiamo Ko, however, she is greeted by Nanny with terrible news: the whole family, despite their attempts at fighting back, has been forcibly removed from the castle by Commander Cherrystone and his soldiers and taken away in chains to their base camp. The soldiers left Nanny, who they said was too old, and Liir, who was not seen as a threat and not known to be related to Fiyero; but even Liir is now gone, having disappeared after apparently following them to the camp. The family all assumed that they had ambushed Elphaba earlier to get her out of the way.
Elphaba insists she will get them back. She only peripherally notices that as Nanny rummages through her bag for her smelling salts while telling her tale, there appears “a beautiful green glass bottle that had an old torn label on it, MIRACLE ELI-.”
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This section begins seven years later with a great commotion in Oz as a “noise (seems) to come from all corners of the sky at once.” Everyone has their own explanation—some religious, some scientific—for what has happened, since none of them has experienced a tornado before.
The storm devastates farms throughout the Corn Basket, kills many Munchkinlanders, and most famously drops a house on the Wicked Witch of the East. Inside the house, it is later discovered, are two passengers: Dorothy, who “by virtue of her survival (is) elevated to living sainthood,” and her “annoying” dog Toto.
Elphaba receives the news of her sister’s death by carrier pigeon. Her monkey Chistery brings her the message as she is sewing wings onto her monkeys—a procedure she has finally perfected with the help of spells from the Grimmerie, thus allowing her monkeys to fly skyward. She tells Chistery to bring Nanny and Liir to her; then she goes back to work.
After she delivers the news of Nessarose’s death, Nanny weeps and Liir, now 14, begs to accompany her to Colwen Grounds, complaining that he has never gone anywhere. She tells him he will need to stay and take care of Nanny, but he suggests that Chistery can do that. Nanny worries about being left alone, questioning what will happen if the castle is attacked again. But Elphaba sees no chance of that happening; the Arjiki militia now guards the castle, and the Wizard’s army is well housed far below.
The three also reminisce about the events of seven years before. Elphaba has never given up hope up finding Sarima and her family, but Nanny thinks they are all long dead. Liir heroically recalls how he tries to rescue them. In fact, he only survived because Commander Cherrystone tied him up in a sack and left him in someone’s barn, not wanting to have to kill him or incarcerate him.
Elphaba spent a year following every clue but turned up nothing. She is still haunted, knowing that she was never able to get Sarima’s forgiveness for Fiyero’s death. She now wonders if maybe this is her chance to step back into the political affairs of the world. She decides to return to Colwen Grounds for the memorial service, bringing a page of the Grimmerie with her to see if Frex can help decipher it.
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When Elphaba arrives at Colwen Grounds, she learns that the Munchkinlanders have finally done away with the title of “Eminence” and are busy destroying the great house, that her lineage no longer carries any weight, and that her brother Shell is once again abroad. She sees that her father has aged and his eye sight nearly gone.
When she shows him the page from the Grimmerie and asks if he can read it, he says no and points out that it is in a foreign tongue. He is surprised she can read it at all, although, as he points out, even as a child she “could see things no one else could.” He recalls the looking glass Turtle Heart created, in which it sometimes seemed Elphaba could see “other worlds, other times.”
As they are speaking, someone approaches, and Elphaba realizes it is Glinda. After Frex drifts off to sleep, the two go for a walk, and Glinda laments the destruction of the beautiful house and all its accoutrements. Elphaba does not care about the house and says she understands why the Munchkinlanders did it, having read the slogans in reference to her sister: “She walked all over us.”
Next, Glinda recounts how she happened to be just twelve miles away from Colwen Grounds when the storm hit, so she was quickly able to arrive on the scene after she got news that Nessarose had been killed. She found the locals celebrating the Witch’s death and singing the praises of Dorothy, the girl from Kansas who arrived in the flying house, and her dog.
Since Glinda did not know how Dorothy could get back to Kansas and that seemed to be Dorothy’s biggest concern, she directed her on to Oz, thinking that perhaps the Wizard might have an answer. She was also anxious to get Dorothy out of Munchkinland, not knowing whether civil war might soon break out as a result of the Witch’s death. She did not want the Munchkinlanders rallying around Dorothy as their new leader, which some seemed determined to do.
Although disappointed she will not get to meet Dorothy, Elphaba initially seems to accept Glinda’s explanation of what happened and her insistence that Dorothy “wasn’t piloting the house . . . she was trapped in it.” That all changes when Glinda mentions that she gave Dorothy Nessarose’s shoes as a kind of protection. This enrages Elphaba, who complains that the shoes were not Glinda’s to give and that Nessarose had promised them to her.
Elphaba accuses Glinda of colluding with the Wizard, claiming that if those shoes were to fall into his hands, he would use them and their superstitious power to re-annex Munchkinland to Oz. Glinda says she had to get the shoes out of Oz, that the Munchkinlanders “put too much credit in those silly shoes.” She tells Elphaba to “give it a rest,” but Elphaba insists she wants the shoes and will not rest until she has them.
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After Nessarose’s memorial service, an emissary of the Wizard approaches Elphaba and tells her that the Wizard wants to meet with her secretly that evening at Colwen Grounds. Elphaba agrees to meet him, hoping to use the opportunity to find out if Sarima is still alive and what happened to Fiyero as well as to ensure her father’s safety.
Before she can meet the Wizard, his emissary searches her and finds the page of the Grimmerie, which he takes, saying she can bring nothing in with her. She threatens that she can “reinstate the office of the Eminent Thropp and have (the Wizard) arrested,” but they do not listen to her.
When the Wizard enters, he is without disguise and looks like a “plain-looking, older man.” Almost immediately, he tells her he has two things he wants to know: whether she plans to take over her sister’s position, and where she got the page she brought with her. She now realizes that the army that has been stationed near Kiamo Ko all these years is there to keep an eye on her.
Elphaba assures the Wizard she has no desire to take over the position of Eminent Thropp, but she says she will not tell him where the page comes from unless she gets some information. She wants to know what happened to Sarima and, if she is still alive, how she might gain her freedom.
At this, the Wizard calls in what looks like a crouching dwarf, but Elphaba soon realizes it is Nor, with chains running through her clothes to keep her hunched over. Her hair cut short, welts all over her body, Nor does not look at Elphaba or respond to the voice of “Auntie Witch” but rather tosses her head side to side as if listening to music. The Wizard insists on keeping her as his captive, for she is his “protection” from Elphaba.
After this, he again asks where Elphaba got the mysterious page, which he says is “a spell for the Administration of Dragons” and comes from another world: his world. As the Wizard explains, the book is “an ancient manuscript of magic, generated in a world far away from this one . . . long thought to be legendary . . . (and) removed from (his) world” for safe keeping. The book is the reason he came to Oz: he had plans to retrieve it and then to return to his world to study its secrets.
When Elphaba hears this, she proposes that she will give him the book if he gives her Nor and promises to leave Oz. The Wizard, however, does not want to give up his power and will make no such promise.
Next Elphaba goes a step further, threatening to use the book against him if he will not leave. The Wizard, not believing she can read anything in it, brushes off her threat. He is surprised to hear how much of the book Elphaba has been able to make out—from instructions on how to unleash hidden energy and tamper with the flow of time to methods for poisoning water and using weapons of torture.
Elphaba revises her offer, saying she will give him the Grimmerie if he will give her Nor. However, the Wizard says he is not willing to make any bargains at this time—but neither will he execute Elphaba, at least not yet. In the meantime, he will hold on to Nor as a “defense against (Elphaba’s) rage.”
After this, Elphaba reminds him that they met years before, and he realizes she must have been one of the “darling girls of Madame Morrible.” When Elphaba confirms that Madame Morrible had tried to recruit her into her service, the Wizard remembers that Madame Morrible had warned him about Elphaba’s betrayal and had told him to have her watched. That was how they learned about her affair with Fiyero. Infuriated, Elphaba watches as the Wizard turns to go, telling her he will send a messenger to her within the year with his answer.
A few days later, Elphaba leaves Colwen Grounds. On her way out, she passes—and ignores—Glinda, even when Glinda cries out to her. The two women never see each other again.
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Before returning to Kiamo Ko, Elphaba decides to go looking for Dorothy to see if she can get back her sister’s shoes. After asking several Munchkinlanders if they had seen where she had gone, she is directed a well-kept house where she is told Dorothy stayed. There she finds her old friend Boq, his wife Milla, and their many children. They welcome her courteously, and she explains why she is there and why she wants the shoes. Boq and Milla tells her how they adored Dorothy, and they invite her to stay for a while.
As they talk, Elphaba tells them she now calls herself the Wicked Witch of the West, for “as long as people are going to call you a lunatic anyway, why not get the benefit of it? It liberates you from convention.” Boq insists that Elphaba is not wicked, that “it’s people who claim that they’re good, or anyway better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.”
This brings to mind Nessarose, and both Boq and Milla make it clear that they are glad she is gone. They both hope for a “sensible government” to take her place. Neither worries about the possibility of reunification—they just want peace and quiet.
At this, Elphaba wonders what has become of all her friends. They used to have ideals, and now they seem to have given them up. She brings up Dr. Dillamond and points out how his ideas still live on—that it is still possible to make a difference. Milla, however, insists that those times are gone and that the people who used to be in charge are now wasting away and that they should not bother with them. Elphaba points out that the Wizard is still just as powerful, but Milla says that is not true of Madame Morrible, who she has recently learned is now bedridden and in pain.
The conversation turns back to Dorothy, and Milla says how Dorothy reminded her of what Ozma might be like if she ever comes out of her supposed deep sleep—a “holy little girl.” Elphaba can think of nothing but the shoes and, saying she cannot waste any more time talking, she grabs her hat and broom and prepares to leave.
Frustrated, she feels disappointed by everyone around her and wonders why she did not team up with Nessarose when she had the chance. All of her campaigns, she thinks bitterly, have been unsuccessful. She decides to accomplish one important task before returning home: to kill Madame Morrible.
Arriving in Shiz, she sees that although the Colleges are largely unchanged, the city is all about money now, and there is not a single Animal in sight. She asks some passing students where she might find the Head, and she is directed to a Main Hall. However, the woman who greets her is not Madame Morrible but a new Head. Upon questioning, the Head tells her where she can find Madame Morrible, who is in her retirement apartment. Elphaba declines the services of Grommetik and says she can find her own way.
Finding the apartment, Elphaba goes in, only to discover that Madame Morrible died moments before. Needing to release her anger, she strikes Madame Morrible with her broom, then finds a trophy with a large marble base and uses this to bash in her skull. She leaves the trophy—with the engraving “IN APPRECIATION OF ALL YOU HAVE DONE”—in Madame Morrible’s arms.
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Wanting to hear people’s reactions to the news of the attack on Madame Morrible, Elphaba decides to stick around Shiz for a while. Feeling impatient, she seeks out someone to whom she can confess and settles on Avaric, now the Margreave of Tenmeadows, which lies on the edge of Shiz.
Although he does not immediately remember her name and is certainly surprised to see her, Avaric remembers Elphaba, then wonders aloud whether “the whole world (is) playing reprises.” Earlier he had seen the same dwarf who had greeted their group of friends years back when they ventured to the Philosophy Club. Elphaba says she was not there, but he continues to think she was. He next recalls the “old hag who called herself Yackle.” At this Elphaba bristles, thinking it cannot possibly be the same Yackle and that Avaric must be mistaken.
She directs the conversation after this, telling him she killed Madame Morrible and that she “want(s) someone who would be believed to know about it.” While Avaric does question why she did it, he does not seem too surprised. He recalls how after Elphaba disappeared, Madame Morrible gathered her old group of friends together to warn them about her and her traitorous activities. Now he does not seem too bothered by her act, and after he assures her he will not call the police, she agrees to stay for dinner.
What ensues over dinner with Avaric and his friends is a philosophical discussion on the nature of evil. Avaric’s wife, the Margreavess, insists that evil is not a proper subject for a dinner conversation, but the rest of the group debates exactly what evil is, each offering his or her own point of view. Some think it is an absence of good, some an attribute, some an infection, some a primitive stage of moral development, some a mistake by the Unnamed God, and some an act in which one selects vice over virtue.
Ultimately, when the hostess asks Elphaba why she killed Madame Morrible, she shrugs and says, “For fun? Maybe evil is an art form.” With that she rises to leave, and although Avaric urges her to stay for the night since she is rather tipsy from the red wine she has been drinking, she declines his offer. After telling them they are a pack of fools for not turning her in to the authorities, she leaves with the final thought that perhaps “it is the nature of evil to be secret” and therefore impossible to fully understand.
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Feeling too drunk to fly, Elphaba looks for a place to sleep and finds the Clock of the Time Dragon outside of town. Before she can lie down, however, the dwarf appears and they begin a conversation that addresses many of the questions Elphaba has about her life. When she asks him about Yackle and how he knows her, he responds that everyone knows Yackle and that sometimes they work together if their goals are the same.
When Elphaba asks him his name and who he works for, he gives another ambiguous answer, asking “Who haven’t I worked for?” and saying he has no name in this world. Frustrated with his riddles, Elphaba threatens to kill him like she killed someone else that day, but he tells her the person she “killed” was already dead.
However, since he is impressed by her determination, he agrees to tells her something of his story and admits he is “the guardian of the book, and (he) was brought to this dreaded, forsaken land to watch over the book’s history, to keep is from getting back to where it comes from.” The "book” refers to the Grimmerie now in Elphaba’s possession, and when she asks him why he does not take it back, he says he only interferes when it is necessary to keep the book safe.
Still feeling confused, Elphaba further questions him about Yackle, wondering why this “fiend” seems to hover around the edges of her life. The dwarf tells her that surely she must know—that she must realize by now—that she is a “half breed . . . a grafted limb . . . a dangerous anomaly” made both of Oz and the other world. When she insists she does not know what he means, he puts on a show for her in three acts.
Act One, “The Birth of Holiness,” portrays the life of Saint Aelphaba until she disappears behind the waterfall. Act Two, “The Birth of Evil,” depicts Melena kissing her parents goodbye at Colwen Grounds and running off with Frex, then sitting at home bored while he is off preaching to disinterested peasants. Soon a man comes along with a small black bag, from which he takes a green glass bottle. This he gives to Melena to drink, and she falls into his arms and the two make love. After this the traveler departs in a large balloon: it is the Wizard.
The Dwarf then calls out Act Three, “The Marriage of the Sacred and the Wicked,” but no action ensues. He tells Elphaba that the end of the play has not yet been written. Then a door opens and a tray slides out, holding Elphaba’s old looking glass—the one she had had since childhood but which she had not seen since her apartment in the Emerald City had been ransacked. In the mirror live reflections of Fae and Fiyero, both young and impassioned. She takes the looking glass and wanders away.
There is no news the next morning of Madame Morrible’s death in the newspaper. Elphaba decides she will have to leave it to Avaric and his friends to spread their rumors of what she had done. She can only hope the Wizard blames her for the death. However, still feeling the need to have her deed known, she flies back to Munchkinland and tells Boq the news.
Instead of being pleased, Boq criticizes Elphaba for sinking to the level of a brute. Drunk and still reeling from the accusations made by the puppet play, Elphaba flies recklessly away on her broom.
As she flies, she starts to feel anxious to get back to Kiamo Ko: home. She ponders to herself, “Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt.” For this she thanks Sarima. Feeling sick, she also determines to ask Nanny about whether it is possible the Wizard is her father.
Still fixated on getting back the shoes, she eventually finds a peddler who says he has recently seen Dorothy. She is no longer alone: she is traveling with a straw man, a tin woodman, and some kind of fearful Cat. She asks about the shoes, and he confirms Dorothy was wearing them, but that she had refused his offer to buy them, saying they had been given to her by a Good Witch.
Elphaba gets an umbrella from him before traveling on. As he walks away, she hears his Donkey say he thinks Dorothy is “Ozma come out of the deep sleep chamber, and marching on Oz to restore herself to the throne.”
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In the air again, Elphaba feels both exhilaration and panic. She debates with herself why she really wants the shoes so badly. Is it truly to keep them out of the Wizard’s hands, or is it somehow to win her father’s affection? Should she abandon this quest and give up Nor, Liir, Nanny, Dorothy, and the shoes?
Just as she thinks that maybe she should, the wind carries her away and she loses control of her broom. Soon she sees the Yellow Brick Road below, and she thinks she sees Dorothy and her gang beneath a tree.
The Witch wakes up the next day with a horrible hangover and the inability to remember exactly what happened the day before. She’s not sure whether she ever confronted Dorothy and her friends or not. Knowing that she cannot follow them into the Emerald City at this time, she decides to head back to Kiamo Ko, where Nanny is happy to see her. When Liir appears, it is with the news that he has finally caught the mysterious golden carp in the fishwell, although when he finally caught it, it was already dead. He wonders aloud whether he will ever be able to tell Nor and the others about the fish.
Elphaba goes to her room and hangs the mirror, not wanting to look at it. She worries that somehow, she will see Dorothy in it. She realizes that Dorothy reminds her of someone, and although at first she thinks it might be Nor, she later realizes it is herself.
With this thought she flashes back to her time in Ovvels, when she was the “green girl, shy, gawky, and humiliated,” her mother pregnant with Shell and Nanny tending to Nessa. Her father brought her along when he went to seek forgiveness from Turtle Heart’s relatives, but rather than being drawn to her father, they were drawn to her—to her courage, her submissiveness, her unflinching quality.
She watched as an old woman beat her father, refusing to give him her forgiveness, and she recalls now that this was the moment he began to “lose his way.” She remembers how he tried to pass his brokenness on to her and how at the time she felt she was staring at “a world too horrible to comprehend,” much as Dorothy is now, but that somehow, she held on to her belief that something greater was at work.
Before falling asleep, the Witch takes a sip from the green glass bottle she had found among Nanny’s things and sets out to try to make sense of her dreams. In her dreams, she sees figures of people, tall buildings, and a humble-looking man—the Wizard—looking dejected and emerging from a building with a sign that says, “No Irish Need Apply.” Then she watches as in another dream, he appears to try to drown himself in the mythic ocean, only to be continually thrown back upon the shore, where he weeps with frustration.
Elphaba awakes, terrified, intent on avoiding the elixir after this. She makes a potion to keep herself awake, fearing any more nightmares. Then she presses Nanny to tell her where she got the bottle. Nanny only says she must have bought it at some sale. The question remains unresolved.
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A few weeks later, Liir returns from a visit with the Wizard’s soldiers with the news that Dorothy and her friends were allowed to see the Wizard. According to reports, the Scarecrow asked for a brain, the tinman for a heart, the lion for some courage, and Dorothy for the ability to go home.
Liir hesitates to tell the rest of the news: the Wizard said he would only grant their requests if they killed the Wicked Witch of the West—in part because she is “crazy” and in part because she killed an “old lady in Shiz.”
The Witch suspects that the Wizard plans to have his own Gale Force soldiers kill the group as soon as they are out of the Emerald City, but Liir says no, the Gale Forcers are superstitious about the fact that Dorothy’s full name is Dorothy Gale.
Nevertheless, the Witch tells Liir he should stay away from the soldiers for a while, warning that they might try to kidnap him to force her to give herself up. When the Witch lets it slip that earlier she saw Dorothy and her group, Liir is full of questions. He is especially anxious to meet Dorothy, although the Witch insists Dorothy is too old for him.
Before leaving, Liir runs through the list again of what everyone wants from the Wizard, then asks Elphaba what it is she wants. She surprises both of them when she says, “A soul.” When she asks what he wants, he replies, “A father.”
Later that night, the Witch cannot stop thinking about her response. She ponders what it is that drives people to religion—and why she, who has sworn off religion, might still believe in a soul. Perhaps, she thinks, it is in trying to accept all beliefs, as unionism does, that they lost their way. Maybe the Unnamed God needs to be named. Maybe paganist notions of Lurlina are closest to the truth.
The Witch’s thoughts drift a lot over the next few days as she tries to stay awake, standing guard at her window and watching for Dorothy’s band. One night Liir returns, teary eyed, from a visit to the soldiers’ camp. One of the soldiers had suggested that when Dorothy arrived, they should kill her friends and tie her up so the men could have a little fun. This upset him, but what upset him more was that the other soldiers had reported him to their commander.
Now that soldier had been stripped, castrated, and nailed to a windmill, where he still hung while vultures pecked at him. Elphaba is struck by the commander’s response, realizing that the Wizard must have ordered his men not to injure Dorothy. In a moment of mercy, she slips away on her broom and makes sure the suffering soldiers dies at once.
As she continues thinking about Dorothy and her friends, she begins to wonder if the cowardly lion is the baby lion cub she rescued in Shiz, all grown up, and if the tinman is Nick Chopper, the victim of her sister’s spell. She is confused by the Scarecrow and she lets her imagination run wild, thinking that maybe it is Fiyero in disguise, returning to her at Kiamo Ko. She lets herself hope and begins to send Killyjoy down into the valley daily to watch for the travelers.
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On a day in early autumn, Dorothy’s group arrives in Red Windmill at the soldiers’ camp, where they receive a warm greeting. Elphaba sends Killyjoy and his pack of kin to lead them to the castle; however, the dogs never come back, and she watches through her telescope as Nick Chopper strikes and kills all of them with his axe.
Enraged, Elphaba next sends her crows with instructions to pull the mask off the scarecrow so she can see who it is, to peck the eyes out of Dorothy and the Lion, and to bring word to Princess Nastoya of all that is happening. Soon Liir, looking through the telescope, reports that the Scarecrow knows how to scare crows—and they will not be coming back either.
Still the Witch does not give up hope that the Scarecrow could be Fiyero. She sends her bees to attack with their stingers. However, Liir reports that the Scarecrow has covered the Lion, Dorothy, and her dog with his straw to protect them, and he is now lying in pieces on the ground.
Elphaba, refusing to believe this, looks and sees that there is “no hidden lover returning, no last hope of salvation,” but only straw and air inside the Scarecrow’s clothes. What’s more, the bees, with only the Tinman to attack, blunt their stingers on his hard surface and fall to the ground, dead.
Finally the Witch sends Chistery and some of the other flying monkeys to go and get Dorothy and the Lion and to bring them back to her at the castle. She tells Liir she does not plan to kill them; she will just get the shoes, send them on their way, then take the Grimmerie into the mountains and go live in a cave.
She then sinks back, sad at the loss of all her “familiars,” and thinks to herself that the group “had enough courage, brains, and heart among them to do quite well.” She decides that maybe it would be better to welcome Dorothy kindly, get the shoes, join up with Princess Nastoya, and finally seek vengeance against the Wizard.
When Dorothy, her dog, and the Lion are dumped on the floor of Kiamo Ko by the monkeys, Liir and Nanny welcome them and offer them food. Dorothy tells them how worried she is about the Scarecrow and the Tinman, and Liir promises to find them the next day.
Soon the Witch appears in the doorway and confronts Dorothy about the fact that she killed her sister. Then Dorothy surprises her by taking her hand and saying how sorry she is and how she knows it is terrible to lose someone you love. Dorothy talks about how she lost her own parents in a storm at sea, and the Witch cannot help thinking “what a most peculiar murderer she is turning out to be . . . (with her) inane good sense and emotional honesty.”
Over dinner, first Dorothy begins to cry, then Liir. Even Elphaba gets sad as she thinks about the loss of Killyjoy, her special pet. Only Nanny continues eating. Then the Witch asks the Lion if he is the cub she helped save long ago and promises to “save (him) again if he behaves.” When he roars at her, saying he never wanted to be saved, she tells Chistery to go put Toto in the fishwell, and the Lion goes chasing after them. Dorothy begs Liir to help save Toto, and Liir confronts the Witch, telling her to leave Dorothy alone. Then he leans over and kisses Dorothy, much to her surprise.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 449
The Witch locks Dorothy away in the tower, demanding to know why she has come. She wonders if her real purpose is to murder her, or if perhaps the Wizard sent her on another mission, such as stealing the book. Dorothy insists she does not know what the Witch is talking about.
When the Witch demands the shoes, Dorothy tells her they will not come off her feet. She tried to take them off for the Wizard, but they would not budge. As she backs away from Elphaba, she knocks over the beehive and unintentionally steps on the remaining queen bee.
The Witch cries out that everything she loves, Dorothy kills. She accuses her of being the third Adept, conscripted by Madame Morrible. Dorothy again says she does not know what the Witch is talking about. Next Elphaba accuses her of being her “soul come scavenging for (her);” she wants nothing to do with a soul, for that would mean everlasting torment. Therefore she must kill Dorothy. She decides she will kill the girl, get the shoes, abandon Liir and Nor, take the Grimmerie to the wilderness and burn it, and then bury herself.
Still she pressures Dorothy to tell her why she has come, wondering if it is really with the intent to murder her. With complete sincerity Dorothy admits that is what the Wizard directed her to do, but she insists that her real purpose in coming was so she could speak to the Witch. Asked what exactly it is she wanted to say, Dorothy replies: “I would say to you: Would you ever forgive me for that accident, the death of your sister; would you ever ever forgive me, for I could never forgive myself!”
The irony of Dorothy’s words hits Elphaba as she recalls her own intent in coming to seek forgiveness from Sarima but never receiving it. Now she is being asked to show Dorothy the mercy that was always denied her. She recoils, twisting and turning, and somehow catches fire to her dress with her lighted broom, which she had been using as a torch. Dorothy cries out, “I will save you!” and throws a bucket of water at the Witch.
Overcome by pain and numbness, the Witch begins to fade away, thinking of all the people she has known, both alive and dead, and the various characters on the fringes of her life. She wonders again about the nature of her body and soul. Finally she thinks about the Wizard, Yackle, the dwarf, the Adepts, and “the creatures of makeshift lives, the hobbled together, the disenfranchised, and the abused.” As she dies, she faintly perceives Dorothy cradling her and singing softly.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 355
The final chapter describes what is happening as the moon travels across Oz on the night of the Witch’s death. The Arjiki and the Scrow are meeting to consider an alliance given that the Wizard’s armies are amassing nearby, and they are sending a delegation to the Witch to ask for her support.
Elphaba’s crows never got through to Princess Nastoya, and they have not yet heard of her death. Grommetik is talking class revolution to the tiktok labor force in Shiz. Glinda is lighting a candle in the Gilliken, not knowing why.
In Colwen Grounds, Frex is sleeping and dreaming of both Turtle Heart and Melena. Shell is sneaking in from another one of his clandestine endeavors.
In the Emerald City, the Wizard is fretting, believing that his reign in Oz is coming to an end and that Dorothy is a sign that it is time for him to return home and go through with the suicide so long delayed.
Dorothy and her friends, along with Liir, return to the Emerald City in triumph. No one believes her account of what happened. Since the Witch’s broom had been burnt beyond recognition and the Grimmerie was too heavy to carry, Dorothy presents the Wizard with something else to prove she had been at the Witch’s castle: a green glass bottle that says “Miracle Eli-”on it.
When he sees the bottle, the Wizard gasps and clutches his heart. Soon after, he secretly flees from the palace in his hot-air balloon, only a few hours before a planned revolt seeking his execution.
What happens to Dorothy after that is something of a mystery. Some say she is still hiding in Oz; others that she flew up into the sky, holding her dog, on her way to the Other Land. No one knows for sure what happened to the shoes. Soon after Nor's disappearance, Liir begins searching for her in the Emerald City.
And while Elphaba seems to be “dead, dead and gone,” just as with Saint Aelphaba behind the waterfall, the question remains of whether she will ever come out again.
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