Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 5 Parts 15 18 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 5, Parts 15–18 : The Murder and Its Afterlife | Summary



Book 5, Part 15

Elphaba sends Killyjoy and his pack to meet Dorothy and her friends and guide them to Kiamo Ko. The travelers misunderstand the gesture and kill all the dogs, believing they are on the attack. Elphaba is furious and shows Liir what they have done to his dog, but he doesn't seem to care. She sends some of her crows out to summon assistance from Princess Nastoya. She instructs the others to check the scarecrow's identity and peck out the eyes of Dorothy and the Lion. Liir becomes hysterical when he learns Elphaba plans to blind the approaching guests. The Scarecrow kills the crows, so Elphaba sends her swarm of bees out to the travelers. The Scarecrow unstuffs himself and covers Dorothy and the Lion with straw. The bees die when they collide with the Tin Woodman. Elphaba sees there is no man hiding inside the Scarecrow.

Nanny wonders whether to prepare cheese and crackers or vegetables and dip for the guests. Elphaba sends Chistery and her other winged monkeys to bring Dorothy and the Lion safely to the fortress before dark comes and they fall off a cliff. The Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow can survive a fall, so she tells the monkeys to leave them be. Liir promises to protect Elphaba as long as he doesn't have to harm Dorothy. Elphaba tells Nanny to serve the vegetables.

Book 5, Part 16

Liir and Nanny greet Dorothy and the Lion, and Dorothy asks to see the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba emerges and invites them in for dinner. Dorothy apologizes for the house killing Nessarose and tells Elphaba she was orphaned when her parents died in a shipwreck. Everyone settles in for dinner, and Dorothy cries because she is worried for her aunt and uncle.

Book 5, Part 17

After dinner and much protest from the Lion and Liir, Elphaba takes Dorothy up to the tower and accuses her of wanting to kill her and take the Grimmerie to the Wizard. Then Elphaba demands the shoes, but Dorothy says they're stuck on her feet. Elphaba tells Dorothy she has killed everything Elphaba has. She pulls Dorothy back to the tower stairs and pushes her up toward the parapet. Elphaba lights her broom on fire, planning to take the shoes and the Grimmerie to burn before burying herself. At the top of the tower, Elphaba asks why Dorothy wants to kill her, but Dorothy says she only wants to ask Elphaba to forgive her for killing Nessarose. Elphaba is so shocked she sets her skirt on fire. Dorothy douses her with a bucket of rainwater. Elphaba sees her family and old friends, and her old enemies, before she dies with Dorothy cradling her.

Book 5, Part 18

Dorothy returns to the Wizard a hero, presenting him with the burned broomstick, the Grimmerie, and the green glass bottle. The Wizard gasps and grabs his heart when he sees the bottle, but he departs in his balloon shortly after. Dorothy also leaves Oz. Liir goes to the Emerald City to search for Nor. People tell stories about the Witch, who becomes part of legend, known for her malice.


Elphaba's death results from a series of terrible misunderstandings of perspective. Elphaba's idea that the Scarecrow might be Fiyero in disguise leads her to welcome Dorothy's band of travelers to Kiamo Ko. She does not consider that these travelers know her only as the Wicked Witch of the West and might perceive the arrival of a pack of wolflike dogs as an act of aggression. In this case the travelers' perception of malicious intent creates malice, as Elphaba sends two more waves of her creatures out to attack them.

When Elphaba stops hoping the Scarecrow is Fiyero, she seems to calm down and refocus on her primary objective: getting Nessarose's shoes. She sends Chistery and his kin out to bring Dorothy and the Lion safely to the castle. Her malice is gone; she wants only what she believes is rightfully hers. Nanny's fretting about what to serve guests who are coming to kill Elphaba provides comic relief in the midst of chaos and fear by juxtaposing the mundane niceties of hospitality with the life-or-death situation unfolding.

Dorothy's revelation that she is an orphan further connects her to Elphaba. Elphaba's mother died when Elphaba was young, and her father gave all his devotion to Nessarose, so in a sense Elphaba is also orphaned. This connection between Elphaba and Dorothy deepens during their final confrontation, when Dorothy says she only wants Elphaba to forgive her for killing Nessarose. Elphaba's only desire for 15 years has been to find forgiveness for Fiyero's death, and that forgiveness has been denied. Now she is denying Dorothy the same comfort of absolution.

The stress of all her losses takes a toll on Elphaba in this final confrontation, and she starts to unravel. She isn't wrong when she says Dorothy has killed everything she has. In the space of less than a day her son has turned against her, and she has lost most of her pets. These losses come on the heels of her sister's death and the shocking revelation that the Wizard, her archenemy, is probably her biological father. Elphaba's unraveling becomes apparent when she asks Dorothy whether she works for Madame Morrible and whether she is the Wizard's Adept. Dorothy doesn't know what Elphaba means. Then Elphaba says, "You're my soul come scavenging for me. I won't have it ... I won't have a soul; with a soul there is everlastingness, and life has tortured me enough." Elphaba wants only peace from her years of suffering and loss, so her death comes as a kind of mercy, even though it is accidental. Dorothy does murder Elphaba, even while trying to save her from the fire. Like Elphaba has done so often, Dorothy commits an act of evil while trying to do good.

Even though Oz celebrates the Witch's death, evil and unrest remain alongside peace and joy. As Elphaba dies, the Arjiki and Scrow negotiate an alliance against the Wizard's armies, preparing for an upcoming war. In Quadling Country a Crocodile eats a baby and is killed. The injustice toward Animals leads the Crocodile to a desperate act that costs two lives, and no change in the Animal restrictions is forthcoming. In Gillikin, Glinda is awake with "shakes and regret and pain," as if she intuitively knows Elphaba is gone before the news is made public. In Munchkinland, Frex dreams about Melena while Shell checks on his sleeping father. In the Emerald City, the Wizard knows Dorothy's arrival is a sign his time is coming to an end and he must return to his home world where "a suicide [is] waiting for him." Oz will soon be free of the Wizard's oppression, and he seems to understand he has done evil things he can no longer live with, including orchestrating the death of his own daughter if his shock at seeing the green bottle is a reliable indicator.

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