Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 1 Chapter 5 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 1, Chapter 5 : Munchkinlanders (The Quadling Glassblower) | Summary



On a spring morning when Elphaba is a year and a half old and Frex is away, Melena tells Elphaba her father is a fraud and jokes about Elphaba drowning in the nearby lake during a walk or by falling out of a boat. She scolds Elphaba for throwing her breakfast fish into the dirt but later suggests the two of them go pick berries for a pie.

Melena spends much of her time drinking and chewing pinlobble leaves. Enjoying the morning sunshine, Melena opens her robe and exposes her breasts. While she is in this state of undress, a lost Quadling traveler arrives at the gate. After he introduces himself as Turtle Heart, a glassblower from the southern settlement of Ovvels, Melena offers to make him a meal and then readjusts her clothing to cover herself. She finds Turtle Heart profoundly handsome, and Elphaba also enjoys his attention.

In gratitude for Melena's hospitality, Turtle Heart blows a looking glass that fascinates Elphaba. In the glass Turtle Heart sees Frex is on his way home with a donkey and an elderly woman—Melena assumes she is Nanny. Turtle Heart and Melena leave Elphaba with the looking glass while they retire to the bedroom for the afternoon. By the time Frex and Nanny approach with the donkey, Melena and Turtle Heart are dressed, and Turtle Heart is blowing glass again.


Melena's marriage to Frex remains fraught, as demonstrated by her loneliness in his absence and her expression of sensuality in exposing herself to the warm sunlight. While this behavior is unseemly for a minister's wife, Melena's attention to her body's comfort carries no malice. Her liaison with Turtle Heart is not an act of malice or evil either, but an attempt to find connection with another person in her husband's absence. Frex's neglect of Melena drives her to immoral behavior, but his morality is no better. He values his work over his bonds and obligations to his family.

Turtle Heart's simple sense of goodness is apparent in Elphaba's response to his presence. For the first time in her short life, she feels comfortable with another person. She has no such bond with her mother, who still appears reluctant to touch her, keeping her strapped into chairs and slings and making jokes about possibly drowning her child. Elphaba finds Turtle Heart soothing and kind, and she wants to be near him. The surly child who throws her food to the ground becomes a seemingly normal toddler in Turtle Heart's presence.

This inherent goodness in Turtle Heart also demonstrates the difference between goodness and morality. Even the name Turtle Heart emphasizes goodness, as it includes a benign and generally gentle creature with a direct reference to the heart, commonly used as a metaphor for the seat of human emotion. Turtle Heart is not a conventionally moral man, engaging in sexual congress with a married woman while he knows her husband is only hours away from home. His kindness makes such considerations immaterial, and prevents his affair with Melena from seeming sordid or wrong.

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