Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 4 Chapter 2 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 4, Chapter 2 : In the Vinkus (The Jasper Gates of Kiamo Ko) | Summary

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Summary

Part 1

Sarima's sister, Six, announces Elphaba's arrival and helps plan a welcome dinner. Before dinner, Sarima recognizes Elphaba from Fiyero's stories about university, but cuts Elphaba off when Elphaba tries to tell her about Fiyero's death. Sarima says they will talk more in a week, after Elphaba has had a chance to rest. She offers to keep Elphaba's name a secret from her sisters and children, calling Elphaba "Auntie Guest."

Part 2

The sisters and children wonder about Elphaba, her color and her relationship to Liir. Manek threatens to push Liir off the tall tower if he won't tell them what Elphaba's broom does. Nor scolds her brother for the threat, but Manek decides Elphaba wouldn't care if they pushed Liir off the tower. Liir says the broom told him that Manek was going to die, and Manek replies, "Everybody dies. We knew that already."

Elphaba and Sarima meet in Sarima's solar a week after Elphaba's arrival. Elphaba speaks of her plans to become a hermit, but Sarima invites her to stay at Kiamo Ko. She refuses to hear whatever Elphaba wants to say to unburden herself. She knows Fiyero died in a violent action and mentions Sir Chuffrey's name, which surprises Elphaba. The women agree Elphaba will take rooms in the castle and speak no more of Fiyero.

Part 3

Elphaba settles into tower rooms suitable for a witch. As Lurlinemas approaches, and the children go into Elphaba's room to get some paper, Chistery escapes and gets into the kitchen. Elphaba interrupts the commotion. She scolds the sisters and the children for tormenting the monkey and carries him out. Elphaba is angry at the children and demands they stay out of her room.

On Lurlinemas, Irji, Manek, and Nor receive toys as gifts, but Liir gets nothing. Nor shares the tail of her gingerbread mouse with Liir as consolation. Neither Elphaba nor Sarima join the rest of the household for the holiday.

Part 4

Shortly after Lurlinemas, Elphaba visits the sisters in their parlor where they are reading a romance novel Fiyero sent them as a gift. Elphaba wants to know how to convince Sarima to talk about Fiyero, and the sisters tell her how Sarima learned of his death. A trader told Sarima he received word Fiyero had been murdered, and he went to the corn exchange where he discovered Elphaba's room and the blood there. Fiyero's body was never found. They say Sarima believes Fiyero was having an affair with Glinda, and Sir Chuffrey had Fiyero killed when he discovered the assignation. The sisters believe Fiyero got involved with political intrigue and the despotic Wizard had him killed. Elphaba attempts to share what she knows, but Two shuts her down. The sisters are under strict orders not to hear Elphaba's story either.

Part 5

In a disused closet in the castle, Elphaba finds an old book in a strange language called a Grimmerie (based on the root grimoire, "a book of magic") and recognizes it as a book of magic. Sarima says the book was left with her for safekeeping years before by an elderly man claiming to be a sorcerer, saying the book was a collection of knowledge from "another world." Elphaba thinks the book may be connected to Ozma Tippetarius, but Sarima says Elphaba is a conspiracy theorist. She says Elphaba can read the book if she wants and is surprised by her nonbelief in an afterlife or Other Land.

Part 6

While the children play hide-and-seek, Nor shows Liir the fishwell in the basement, which supplies food to the fortress. She tells Liir that Six once saw a giant golden carp in the well. Then Nor and Liir spy on Elphaba as she tries to teach Chistery to speak.

On another day the entire family goes to the nearby pond to ice skate. Elphaba joins the party, shuffling along on the ice with her broom. The family asks about the broom, which Elphaba says is not magic; Mother Yackle in the mauntery said it is the link to Elphaba's destiny. Nor convinces Sarima to tell her the story of the witch and the fox babies, which Sarima does, but she worries it will offend Elphaba. Elphaba doesn't object to the story because of the witch but because it implies the existence of an afterlife.

Part 7

The children speculate about Chistery's language lessons and decide to go ask the monkey if Auntie is a witch and if Chistery is under a spell. Chistery responds with gibberish. Elphaba catches them and tells the children, again, to stay out of her room.

Part 8

During another game of hide-and-seek, Manek convinces Liir to hide in the bucket inside the fishwell. Manek closes the lid on the well and leaves him there. Meanwhile in the kitchen, Elphaba tells Sarima her children are badly behaved "evil sprites." Sarima asks if Elphaba thinks Liir is a good boy, but Elphaba makes a huffing noise and brushes the question away. The children interrupt with news of a caravan approaching and are put to work cleaning. None of them claim to know where Liir is.

Part 9

The arriving caravan delivers Nanny to Kiamo Ko. She has tracked Elphaba after Crope told her that Elphaba watched over Tibbett in his dying days. Nanny then went to the Cloister of St. Glinda and convinced the maunts to tell her about Elphaba. Then Nanny joined a caravan to Kiamo Ko when one was ready to leave. She says the Wizard has crowned himself Emperor, and Elphaba wonders what this means.

Part 10

Nor and Irji interrupt the sisters' storytelling about St. Aelphaba of the Waterfall with news that they've found Liir. The adults pull Liir out of the fishwell while Manek casually mentions Liir once said he wanted to go down there. The sisters demand Elphaba use magic to revive the unconscious Liir, and Elphaba says she has no aptitude for magic. She sends for Nanny, who tells Elphaba to resuscitate the child. Elphaba gets Liir breathing again, and then Nanny treats him for exposure. She is appalled to learn Liir has no bed or room of his own. The semiconscious Liir claims the gold carp in the well talked to him but he does not finish what the carp said.

Sarima scolds Elphaba for neglecting Liir and considers the difference between the hot anger of men and the cold anger of girls. In this conversation accusations about Fiyero and Liir are implied. Elphaba mulls this over in her tower while she looks at an icicle on the roofs below and decides a successful person needs both kinds of anger. When Manek steps outside in the same moment, the icicle breaks and pierces his skull, killing him.

Analysis

Elphaba believes she has come to Kiamo Ko to do a good thing. She wants to unburden herself of her guilt about her affair with Fiyero and her role in his death so she can be forgiven for these things. She tries to tell Sarima she can release her from the burden of Fiyero's loss by giving her the truth about his life. However, Sarima understands something Elphaba does not. Confession may release the confessor of the burden of a sin, but it may add to the burden of the person who hears the confession. In a sense, confession and seeking forgiveness is a selfish act. This is why Sarima refuses to hear Elphaba's story. Her refusal implies she knows exactly what Elphaba wants to tell her. Sarima does not want to absolve Elphaba with the gift of forgiveness, even though she genuinely seems to like her.

It is easier for Sarima to believe the story her sisters relate; Sarima thinks Fiyero had an affair with Glinda, and Glinda's jealous husband, Sir Chuffrey, had him killed. Glinda is a total stranger, not a woman living under Sarima's own roof, one she considers a friend. It is far easier to blame an absent woman than to accept Elphaba's burden. Even if Sarima accepts her sisters' theory that Fiyero was killed as part of political intrigue—very close to the truth—she doesn't have to bring her friend Elphaba into the equation.

Although she does not receive forgiveness, Elphaba is accepted as part of a family for the first time in her life. She and Sarima are close friends and equals. Elphaba's relationship with Glinda at Shiz in Book 2 contained an element of competition; on some level each woman thought herself better than the other. Sarima accepts Elphaba as she is, even assuming Elphaba is a witch, and gives her plenty of space to conduct her experiments and study sorcery. Sarima treats Elphaba's status as a witch respectfully, hesitating to tell Nor her favorite fairy tale for fear of offending Elphaba. While Elphaba's own biological family spends most of her childhood in fear of her, Sarima gives Elphaba the Grimmerie without fearing Elphaba might turn its powers against her family.

In turn, Elphaba feels comfortable to speak frankly with Sarima and her sisters. Most telling is the way Elphaba criticizes Sarima's children to her, and Sarima questions Elphaba's upbringing of Liir. These are topics generally off limits outside of very close relationships, but the conversation does not appear to damage Elphaba and Sarima's friendship.

Sarima's children treat Elphaba as a slightly odd distant family member, calling her Auntie. They are curious about her activities, but her appearance and behavior as a witch does not truly frighten them. Elphaba repeatedly scolds the children for going into her room, but they keep going in there anyway. They may not want to make her angry, but they do not truly fear her. However, Manek's fate demonstrates why they should fear Elphaba.

When Elphaba kills Manek, it is the first time the reader sees her kill with the probable intention of doing so. Elphaba may have killed people during her time as a radical in the Emerald City, but the absence of those killings in the narrative strongly suggest she did not kill anyone there. In Book 3, Elphaba refuses to kill Madame Morrible because she fears harming the children who happen to be nearby, even though Elphaba wants to kill Madame Morrible. In Book 4, Chapter 1, Elphaba kills the cook, but this killing results from an unconscious command she sends to her hive of bees.

When the icicle falls on Manek, it falls because Elphaba is concentrating on the icicle and meditating on the nature of anger. The precision of the timing—the icicle falls at the very moment Manek steps out the door—indicates a force greater than pure chance is at work. Elphaba may appear cruel and evil to kill a child, but she also has good reason to subdue him. Manek may be a child, but he has already attempted to murder another child on more than one occasion. He threatens to push Liir off the tallest tower of Kiamo Ko, and whether by coincidence or in a display of Liir's own power, Liir predicts Manek's death on this occasion. Later Manek leaves him in a fishwell for several days without telling anyone. Clearly Manek's assertion that Elphaba wouldn't care if Liir died proves false. Elphaba has little maternal feeling for Liir, but she does feel a small measure of protection toward him. More importantly, Manek's actions against Liir reveal his true nature to Elphaba.

Manek does not appear to have a reason for his hostility toward Liir. Liir bears no resemblance to Fiyero, so Manek is not acting out of resentment for the sudden appearance of a little brother. Manek bullies Liir because he can, because Manek is strong and Liir is weak. Elphaba has spent her life fighting against tyrants and bullies, so she can recognize one in the making. She has seen what powerful men do to whole populations if those populations are weak; she has seen the massacres in Quadling Country and the oppression of Animals. If Manek is willing to exploit the little power he has over the hapless Liir now, growing into an Arjiki prince will not soften his temperament. Manek knows he is stronger than his older brother and capable of usurping Irji's position. He already treats Irji and Nor as if he is the oldest, so age and greater power will not make Manek into a just and caring leader.

Aside from Manek's repeated attempts to kill him, Liir has a depressing childhood. Elphaba ignores him except when he breaks her rules. He gets nothing for Lurlinemas (Oz's equivalent to Christmas) at Kiamo Ko, and apparently never has received gifts on the holiday. Sarima is affectionate and warm with her children, especially Nor, but Liir does not know what affection feels like. Only after he nearly dies in the fishwell does anyone even realize he doesn't have a room or a bed of his own. He sleeps on the floor of the other children's rooms like an animal. Elphaba's animals actually receive better treatment than her son.

The situational irony of Liir's childhood is that Elphaba felt neglected as a child. Her parents rarely touched her in infancy and expected her to give all to Nessarose during their childhood. She might be expected to right the wrongs she experienced as a child by showing her son more affection. The jealousy she expresses toward Nessarose in Book 2 for being their father's pet indicates that Elphaba wants more affection and connection with her father. Her obsession with getting Nessarose's shoes in Book 5 reveals Frex's favoritism remains a sore spot well into Elphaba's adulthood. Instead, Elphaba does not even acknowledge Liir is hers. She feels little compassion toward him even as a random orphan boy. As is the case with her misunderstanding of the nature of forgiveness, Elphaba does not realize her behavior toward Liir is wrong.

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