Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 1 Chapter 7 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 1, Chapter 7 : Munchkinlanders (Child's Play) | Summary

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Summary

Nanny becomes convinced there is a wild animal in the area, perhaps a bear or a wolf, while she and Melena wash laundry in a stream. Melena tells her such large predators are unlikely. Nanny talks to Melena about the condition of her bedsheets and her affair with Turtle Heart, and Melena tells Nanny it isn't her concern to moralize. Melena loves Turtle Heart because he has no shame about their affair and no fear of Elphaba.

Nanny decides Elphaba needs to socialize with other children, so she and Melena take Elphaba into Rush Margins. There Nanny talks to Gawnette, who minds a group of children. Gawnette decides Frex has left preaching for so long because his daughter is green and mocks him for resuming his ministry now. She is reluctant to take Elphaba into the group, but she accepts the money Nanny offers. Elphaba does not want to join the game of tag in progress, but she moves into the group tentatively while Gawnette asks if the "Quadling muckfrog" staying with them "only eats grass and dung." Melena declares Turtle Heart "a fine man." Nanny scolds Elphaba for throwing rocks at the other children, but the other children retaliate with rocks of their own and pin down Elphaba. Gawnette intervenes when she sees Elphaba about to bite one of the boys.

Analysis

Melena reveals that her love for Turtle Heart goes deep. Their affair is based on substance and human connection, not base pleasure instincts, as Nanny assumes. While the affair is immoral, according to societal standards, it is good for Melena and brings her out of the stupor she has occupied since Elphaba's birth.

Elphaba's encounter with the playgroup demonstrates the prejudices and divisions inherent in Oz's culture. Gawnette is reluctant to accept Elphaba because she is green. She shows similar bias against the Quadling Turtle Heart, assuming he is uncivilized and likening him to a frog who lives in mud. These prejudices are not exclusive to Gawnette and will enable the destruction of Quadling Country predicted in Book 1, Chapter 8. For this reason Gawnette's prejudice should not be dismissed as the ramblings of an ignorant peasant woman but an indication of widespread beliefs that may result in real harm to other humans.

Elphaba's interaction with the children reveals their prejudice and the general savagery of youth. The children meet Elphaba's hostility and rock throwing with hostility and rock throwing of their own, which also shows Elphaba may not be far from the norm for childish behavior. When she is pinned to the ground, outnumbered by the other kids, a boy attempts to bite her. Elphaba does not initiate the biting, which shows that other children can be as savage as she. However, Elphaba is born with sharp teeth that give her an advantage and make her hostility more dangerous than the hostility of her fellows.

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