Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 1 Chapter 8 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 1, Chapter 8 : Munchkinlanders (Darkness Abroad) | Summary



Through the summer, Elphaba and Nanny settle into a routine of visiting the playgroup every few days. Frex takes his ministry on the road again and is absent for days at a time. Turtle Heart becomes listless as summer fades into autumn, and the affair cools somewhat. Nanny tells Melena he is odd because he is a Quadling, so Melena will never really understand him.

When Frex returns in early fall, they build a fire in the yard, and he talks to Melena about his successful sermons during his trip. Nanny suggests Frex go to the Emerald City to minister to the Ozma Regent, but Turtle Heart says it would be better to minister to the "downtrodden" in Quadling Country. He explains he left Quadling Country because of "horrors," a word Elphaba repeats, her first.

Turtle Heart describes the turmoil brought to Quadling Country by the construction of the Yellow Brick Road, which disturbs the delicate balance of life there. The Quadlings also expect more outsiders will come into their land to mine for the rubies under the swamps and kill the Quadlings to gain access to their land. He says, "As the water to run red with rubies it will to run with the blood of Quadlings." Turtle Heart decides it is time for him to move on. Frex considers how he might be of help in Quadling Country as well, but Melena protests the move because she is pregnant.

Frex and Turtle Heart continue their talk by the fire while Nanny tells Melena she has obtained medicine for Melena to prevent her next child from being green. When Nanny asks the men to send Elphaba in to bed, they realize Elphaba has wandered off. They find her sitting in a dry spot under the dock on the lake, staring into the looking glass, repeating "Horrors" and sitting on the forelegs of a tiger-like creature. Turtle Heart knows Elphaba can see a man coming to Oz in a red hot-air balloon, which means the end of the Ozma family's rule.


Melena's inability to truly understand Turtle Heart reflects another side of his name. Turtles are usually gentle creatures, but they have a hard, protective shell. In this respect, a turtle heart is one enclosed in an impenetrable casing that prevents damage as well as close observation. Similarly, Turtle Heart has qualities that keep him separate from Melena even though she loves him. He clearly cares for her, Frex, and Elphaba and has become a part of their family. His private conversation with Frex by the fire hints at affection between the two of them as well, and in Book 4 Frex will confess he too is in love with Turtle Heart. However, Turtle Heart never directly indicates he loves Frex and Melena as deeply as they love him.

Turtle Heart does care about the welfare of his homeland and his people. Whatever his family and romantic bonds with Melena and her family, he realizes he has forgotten his mission to help his blood relations in Quadling Country. He wants to move on and do his duty by them. His ability to read the future and this implied ability in Elphaba also underscores the connection he has with her.

The horrors coming to Quadling country and the arrival of the man in the balloon indicate a shift of power in Oz to a malicious force. Readers familiar with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz know the man in the balloon is the Wizard, and it is apparent he will use his power to incite violence and destruction in the name of progress. Turtle Heart is right to fear for his people. Elphaba is fascinated with and fearful of the events she can see in the glass, and her placement under the dock with the large animal foreshadows the power she will wield as an adult. She already has an ability to read future events in the looking glass, and her affinity with animals allows her to subdue a dangerous predator and bond with it.

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