Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 3 Section 2 Elphabas Plans Go Awry Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 3, Section 2 (Elphaba's Plans Go Awry) : City of Emeralds | Summary

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Summary

As the winter sets in and Lurlinemas approaches, Elphaba and Fiyero's affair cools somewhat. She hints at a big operation coming up, and he asks her if she worries about collateral damage during her activities, injuring innocent bystanders. She says "any casualty of the struggle is their fault, not ours" and tragedies happen all around anyway. They make up later, but she tells him he should leave her for someone more worthy than she is.

A few days later Fiyero visits a coffee shop, and while he drinks on an upper level of the café, he can see into the yard of a school turned makeshift prison where a few Quadlings, Gillikinese, and a family of Bears are being held. The groups keep to themselves, smoking and dancing. The Bear cub plays with a ball. A Gale Force officer comes out to give them an order, which makes the Bear cub cry. The officer beats the cub with a truncheon, and Fiyero wishes the prisoners would join together against the officer. Then the café manager draws the curtains and apologizes for the view.

Later in the week he meets Crope and Glinda by chance and joins them for tea. Glinda teases Fiyero about having an affair, but he brushes the comment aside. She tells him Nessarose is in town with the Eminent Thropp and comments on her own marriage to Sir Chuffrey. Crope says he thinks he has seen Elphaba in the city, which leads them to speculate about her life. When they part ways, Glinda hopes they can meet again soon. Fiyero doesn't tell Elphaba about what he sees at the café or this meeting.

Elphaba tells Fiyero he should leave town before Lurlinemas Eve, and if he won't leave town, he must promise he will not go out. He agrees but stalks her through the streets on Lurlinemas Eve, following her to a theatre where Madame Morrible is arriving. Before Elphaba can carry out her plan, a nearby school lets out, and the girls get in the way of whatever Elphaba has planned. She moves away from the theatre and is lost in the crowd. Fiyero returns to Elphaba's room at the corn exchange, where he is ambushed and beaten by Gale Force officers. Malky escapes through the skylight. Elphaba goes to the mauntery at the Church of St. Glinda, where she is taken in by the Mother Maunt, Yackle.

Analysis

In the second section of Book 3, Elphaba attempts to pull back from her relationship with Fiyero because she believes love is "a wicked distraction" from her work. In this respect, Elphaba mirrors her father, whose devotion to his work caused him to neglect his wife and children. Both Frex and Elphaba believe their neglect of loving connections is justified because they serve a higher cause. In Elphaba's case, this may be true. Even Fiyero can see from the window of a café the brutality the Wizard visits upon those who oppose him. The fate of the Bear cub is unclear, but it is entirely possible the prison guard kills him. A guard who would knock a baby Animal unconscious likely has few qualms about finishing the job. However, the stakes of Elphaba's choosing her work over love are much higher, and her choice to continue with her work instead of being with Fiyero plays a role in his death.

Elphaba uses the justification of a higher cause or the greater good to justify the possible collateral damage her actions cause. She claims to have no soul, which makes her indifferent to the suffering of innocent bystanders. Elphaba's coldness in this respect makes her appear no better than the Wizard. However, during the operation on Lurlinemas Eve, Elphaba reveals her true nature is not indifferent to innocence. She refuses to kill her target, Madame Morrible, when a group of schoolgirls gets in the way. For all her talk about devotion to the cause, Elphaba still respects the value of innocent lives.

Because her target is Madame Morrible, the operation also indicates Elphaba is not so much serving a higher cause as seeking vengeance or liberation. She resents that Madame Morrible got away with Dr. Dillamond's murder, and Elphaba still fears she may yet be under Madame Morrible's spell and her life not really her own. By killing Madame Morrible, Elphaba might be able to free herself from the sorceress's spell.

Some evidence of Madame Morrible's control over her former students emerges with Glinda's appearance in the Emerald City. Glinda's interaction with Fiyero over tea indicates that the maturity and introspection she showed after Dr. Dillamond's murder is largely gone. Perhaps she reverts to her old social-climbing ways because she is away from Elphaba's influence, or maybe she is under Madame Morrible's magical influence.

Still, Madame Morrible's influence may be a moot point. Yackle appears again, this time in the form of the Mother of a mauntery, or a convent, which provides a sharp contrast with her last appearance in the sexually charged Philosophy Club, although both locations carry a metaphysical element. Yackle's appearance in these disparate locations hints that she exists as a connection point in Elphaba's life—and perhaps a connection point in the universe. Her presence may also indicate that Elphaba's life is being orchestrated by powers well beyond her knowledge.

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