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Wicked | Book 2, Chapter 2 : Gillikin (Boq) | Summary

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Summary

Part 1

Boq skips a night out with the other boys from Briscoe Hall to spy on the girls in Crage Hall, whom he has made a habit of observing in their undergarments when they leave their curtains open while changing. He is especially interested in one of the girls, and to get a better view he sneaks out and finds a perch on top of a stable; he falls off into a vegetable patch when Elphaba catches him. They chat, and Elphaba agrees to arrange a meeting for Boq and Glinda, although she thinks he is wasting his time.

Part 2

With Elphaba's help and supervision, Boq meets Glinda in the same kitchen garden by the stable where Elphaba caught him spying. Glinda is polite to Boq but embarrassed by his professed affections. She tells him she must marry up and, also, that he is too short for her. Boq suggests they might be friends, which Glinda finds pointless between "unmarried people of [their] age." Boq insists it might be fun and vows to persist in his pursuit of their friendship. Glinda assures him she will not agree to another meeting but tells him if they meet by chance she won't ignore him.

Part 3

In early summer, Boq works in the library at Three Queens College. While eating lunch by the canal with his friends Crope and Tibbett, Boq encounters Glinda and Elphaba with Ama Clutch, Pfannee, and Shenshen. Glinda announces her plan to spend the summer with Pfannee and Shenshen at Pfannee's lake house. Elphaba talks about her work as Dr. Dillamond's assistant, which fascinates and impresses Boq.

A week or so after this meeting, Boq encounters Elphaba alone off campus when she sees him pondering headlines in a café in Railway Square. Elphaba tells him about Nessarose's disability and their mother's death in childbirth. To change the subject, Elphaba asks about Boq's pursuit of Glinda. She says she believes Glinda has more substance of mind than appears on the surface. They talk about Dr. Dillamond's research, and Boq agrees to help Elphaba get books she needs from the Three Queens and Briscoe Hall libraries if Dr. Dillamond needs them.

Part 4

Boq works in the library and helps Elphaba with research. He, Crope, and Tibbett meet her in the café each week to exchange information in secret. Elphaba tells them Dr. Dillamond has made a scientific breakthrough using a microscope-like instrument. The group then speculates about how Animals originally gained sentience. According to one theory Animals are descended from survivors of a flood made by Lurline's urine. Another theory says the flood was caused by the tears of the Unnamed God, which Animals ingested while trying to save themselves. A third theory says Animals gained sentience from a Kumbric Witch spell. Elphaba ends their meeting when she spots Grommetik and fears they are being spied upon.

Part 5

Boq's friend Avaric returns from his summer vacation early. His arrival coincides with a letter from Glinda, inviting Elphaba to visit the lake house. Boq urges Elphaba to go and offers to chaperone her with Avaric. Elphaba reluctantly agrees to go, but Madame Morrible will allow Elphaba to travel only if she takes Grommetik with her.

When the group arrives at the lake house, the letter is quickly revealed as a trick perpetrated by Pfannee. Glinda feels embarrassed and upset about the prank. Elphaba decides to stay, but she and Glinda avoid the rest of the group. Boq corners Glinda on the porch. Glinda talks about her love-hate feelings for Elphaba and kisses Boq. The next day Glinda, Elphaba, Boq, Grommetik, and Ama Clutch go back to Shiz. Avaric stays behind with Pfannee and Shenshen.

Part 6

Boq finds an illumination of the Kumbric Witch in a centuries-old book, depicting the Witch wearing robes and silver shoes, nursing an "unrecognizable beast" while flood waters roil in the background. Boq thinks the picture introduces another possible explanation for Animal sentience and combines elements of several existing myths. Elphaba is skeptical of Boq's interpretation and tells him Dr. Dillamond's research is close to a breakthrough. She also tells him Glinda has not spoken of him since the lake house and he's too good for Glinda. Boq leaves awkwardly, suspecting Elphaba has feelings for him.

Part 7

Boq sees Elphaba and Glinda again by chance outside Crage Hall, where all the residents have gathered, weeping and shocked, in a small park outside. Dr. Dillamond has been discovered dead in his lab, and they watch his body—with the throat slit—being carted away by police. Glinda and Elphaba say Ama Clutch observed something "funny" outside the lab while closing the drapes that night. When she doesn't return, Madame Morrible tells the girls Ama Clutch is in the hospital with a relapse of her malady. When Elphaba and Glinda get in to see her, they find Ama Clutch talking to the rusty nail she stepped on at the railway platform.

Analysis

Shiz University operates on a system resembling that of British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge as well as some universities in the United States. Shiz is made up of numerous colleges, including Crage Hall for women and Briscoe Hall, Three Queens, and Ozma Towers for men. These colleges are designated for specific areas of study; for example, Briscoe Hall is dedicated to agriculture.

Despite Boq's propensity for peeping into the women's dormitory, he is a basically good person. Spying on the women of Crage Hall as they change clothes is an immoral and intrusive act, but Boq is motivated by his hopeless love for Glinda as well as a curiosity about women's bodies and private lives that is natural for a man his age, especially one who has spent much of his life separated from women. Although Boq's friendship with Elphaba takes root because he wants to get closer to Glinda, he treats Elphaba with respect and kindness, which is more than Glinda and her friends usually offer Elphaba. His kindness is also more than Elphaba offers Boq, as she seems to relish the idea of watching Glinda reject him when the two first meet.

Glinda undergoes a slow transformation through the spring and summer. She does reject Boq outright when the two of them first meet, citing his height and his social status as reasons she can't have a relationship with him. After the prank at the lake house, which Glinda finds humiliating, she cools toward her upper-class friends a bit. She takes Elphaba's side and returns to Shiz when Elphaba does. This newfound empathy extends to Boq, whom she kisses on the porch. While Glinda's friendship with Elphaba thrives after the lake house, she remains lukewarm about Boq, and Elphaba resents Glinda inspiring and then dashing their friend's hopes. Glinda is better than she was, but she is not yet truly good.

Boq's friendship with Elphaba grows because of his respect for Dr. Dillamond's intelligence and research, which inspires Boq's interest in Animal sentience and preserving their rights. The research and the research group's discussions about Animal sentience echoes Frex's description of the different religious groups in Oz. One obstacle to equitable treatment for Animals rests on the inability to reach a consensus about why Animals are different from animals. The fact of Animal sentience should be sufficient to empower them with rights equal to humans, but the conflicting origin stories allow the Wizard and others to justify Animal oppression. With disparate accounts in religion and folklore, Dr. Dillamond's attempts to find a scientific basis have the potential to definitively answer the question and assure Animal rights, but there is an equal possibility his research will provide another competing theory and change nothing in the power structure for Animals. Boq recognizes this possibility when he tells Elphaba that even with the research in hand, the Wizard may not feel compelled to change his policies.

Elphaba's passion for justice finds an outlet in the cause of Animal rights, and her activities lead to her first associations with witches. When she appears for meetings with Boq, Crope, and Tibbett, Elphaba wears a hat, cloak, gloves, and boots, which prompts Boq to observe she looks like "the original Kumbric Witch," and Crope teases her about trying to avoid an unintentional baptism. They believe her dress is related to a rejection of religion and traditional morality. The Kumbric Witch is a mythical figure associated with sexuality and, in the case of the illumination Boq finds, motherhood, and Elphaba's choice to dress like a Kumbric Witch foreshadows her later embrace of the moniker. However, the boys' interpretations are based on a limited point of view and incomplete knowledge. Elphaba does not advertise how water causes her pain, but she dresses in this manner to protect herself from the misty rain outside.

Madame Morrible hovers at the edge of the action in Chapter 2, but her presence is no less ominous. When Elphaba spots Grommetik in the café, she is right to worry he is a spy. Madame Morrible does not insist on sending Grommetik to the lake house out of concern for Elphaba's reputation or well-being; he is meant to spy on Elphaba and Boq. It is no coincidence Dr. Dillamond is murdered shortly after these encounters with Madame Morrible and Grommetik. Madame Morrible's role in Dr. Dillamond's death becomes apparent to the reader when Ama Clutch comes down with Glinda's fictional malady. Only Glinda and Madame Morrible know about the invented illness, and it defies reason for Ama Clutch to have developed this illness by chance. It is much more likely she is under a powerful spell, and Madame Morrible is a skilled enough sorceress to cast such a spell.

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