HomeLiterature Study GuidesWickedBook 2 Chapter 1 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 2, Chapter 1 : Gillikin (Galinda) | Summary

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Summary

Part 1

Glinda, still known by her birthname Galinda, travels to university in the city of Shiz in Gillikin without her escort, Ama Clutch, who steps on a nail in the train station and stays behind to see a doctor. Glinda shares her train compartment with a Goat, Dr. Dillamond, a professor of biology at the university. Glinda is marginally polite to Dr. Dillamond, correcting him to call her Galinda when he calls her Glinda. He tells her about the Wizard's restrictions on Animal travel.

When Glinda arrives at Crage Hall, her college within the Shiz University, Glinda panics because her Ama is not there to negotiate a roommate for her. Madame Morrible wants to assign Glinda to a common dorm, but Glinda says Ama Clutch can't chaperone a large dorm. Madame Morrible agrees to arrange for Glinda to live with Elphaba, "The Thropp Third Descending of Nest Hardings," formerly of Munchkinland and Quadling Country.

Part 2

When Ama Clutch arrives the next day, she treats Elphaba kindly. This annoys Glinda, who is put off by Elphaba's appearance. In a private meeting with Madame Morrible, Glinda invents a malady to explain why Ama Clutch is unqualified to chaperone a large dorm; supposedly this ailment leaves Ama Clutch "confused as to what has Life and what doesn't." Glinda elaborates with stories about how this malady has caused Ama Clutch to injure people by forgetting they are alive. Madame Morrible and Glinda agree that if Elphaba can't adjust to this perilous situation, she can simply leave Crage Hall.

As roommates, Glinda and Elphaba talk little. Glinda and her friends, Shenshen and Pfannee, quietly mock Elphaba's obvious poverty and speculate about Elphaba's life in Quadling Country, whether her family were criminals or ruby speculators. Elphaba spends most of her time reading and studying, but Glinda finds academics more challenging than expected. Glinda enjoys the life and architecture of Shiz. One night Glinda and Elphaba are alone in their room during a storm and Glinda convinces Elphaba to try on one of her hats, thinking it will make a funny story to tell her friends the next day. Glinda is shocked to discover Elphaba looks pretty in the hat. Elphaba brushes the compliments aside, and the conversation turns to religion and the nature of evil. The next morning Glinda mocks Elphaba to her friends, saying Elphaba talked only about evil and makes fun of the hat.

Part 3

Madame Morrible holds a poetry reading in Crage Hall, and Dr. Dillamond is outraged when Madame Morrible reads a poem ending with the line "Animals should be seen and not heard." Dr Dillamond calls the poem propaganda and leaves the reading. Glinda is embarrassed to be seen with Elphaba talking to her while Elphaba whispers about the meaning of the poem and Dr. Dillamond's reaction.

In class the next day Dr. Dillamond asks the class what they think of the policies against Animals coming out of the Emerald City, but the students know little about these issues. Dr. Dillamond explains how the Wizard has limited Animals from travel and work opportunities, sending many of them back to farms and the wild. A few days later, Elphaba confronts Madame Morrible about the poem and its meaning, which enrages Madame Morrible.

Part 4

At the start of the second semester, Elphaba and Glinda remain roommates. Madame Morrible rejects Glinda's request for a reassignment but encourages her to study sorcery. She hints Glinda might get a new roommate if she studies sorcery because Elphaba is studying natural sciences. She also tells Glinda Elphaba's sister will be coming to Shiz in another year or two and hints at the sister's own abnormality. Glinda wants to ask Elphaba what is unusual about her sister but loses her nerve.

Analysis

Glinda, whom readers will recognize from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as the Good Witch of the North in the film adaptation or the Good Witch of the South in the novel, does not appear to be particularly good during her college years. She is not overtly evil, but her snobbery and social climbing instincts make her dismissive of those she views as lesser than herself. She ignores Dr. Dillamond's explanations of the Wizard's prejudicial bans on Animal travel that will relegate sentient creatures such as him and his mother to travel in substandard pens. He considers these bans a gateway to further oppression, which is a correct assessment, but Glinda cares more about the way he pronounces her name.

When Glinda arrives at Crage Hall she spends much of her time comparing her own clothes with those of the girls around her. On one hand Glinda's insecurity about fitting in is a normal reaction to her situation. On the other hand her concern with appearances indicates a shallow worldview. She is also willing to lie to get her way, assigning her long-time caretaker with a terrible fictional disease so she doesn't have to share a living space with 15 other girls. Her decision to assign Ama this disease indicates a profound lack of loyalty even to those who have cared for her presumably her entire life.

In congress with her friends at Crage Hall, Glinda becomes a stereotypical "mean girl," teasing Elphaba behind her back. The two have an evening of genuine connection in which they talk about the idea of evil. Glinda thinks evil results from boredom; Elphaba thinks evil happens when goodness goes away. Glinda's actions after this conversation prove both interpretations of evil to be true. She entertains herself by lying about her evening with Elphaba so she can mock her. Evil in this case stems from a lack of goodness or sympathy for Elphaba and a concern for being liked by the "right" people over doing what is kind.

Madame Morrible is a clear figure of malice, but she hides this malice behind a facade of concern for her students and high social status. Even her name, rhyming with horrible, evokes her true nature. She enjoys exercising petty power over Glinda during roommate assignments and expresses little concern for Elphaba's safety or success at college. While Glinda is content to ignore the plight of Animals, however, Madame Morrible reveals her antipathy for them in her poetry reading. She makes no apology for offending Dr. Dillamond and clearly believes in her statement "Animals should be seen and not heard," which indicates her support for the travel bans and other restrictions.

That Elphaba's classmates are largely unaware of the anti-Animal policies coming from the Emerald City indicates Glinda's indifference to others' suffering is hardly unique. It also may indicate how stealthily those in power have enacted laws to oppress the Animals. The move to conceal such injustices shows the Wizard and his supporters know these policies are unjust, but they don't care who they hurt.

Structurally, the chapter tells something of what has happened to Elphaba in the 10 years since Book 1. While details remain sparse, her family did go to Quadling Country. Pfannee and Shenshen's speculation that Elphaba's family might have been criminals or ruby speculators hints that the horrors Turtle Heart predicts in Book 1, Chapter 8 have come to pass, so it becomes apparent Elphaba has witnessed some of those horrors firsthand. Her experience with the Quadlings may indicate why she is passionately concerned about the injustices the Animals face and shows no fear of confronting her college head about her apparent support for these injustices.

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