Literature Study GuidesWickedBook 5 Parts 3 4 Summary

Wicked | Study Guide

Gregory Maguire

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Wicked | Book 5, Parts 3–4 : The Murder and Its Afterlife | Summary



Book 5, Part 3

Elphaba returns to Colwen Grounds and attempts to comfort Frex as he mourns Nessarose, his "pet." He says Elphaba was born as a curse to him, and Nessarose is the result of Melena's "lax morals." The Munchkinlanders destroy the house and grounds and spray graffiti referencing Nessarose's shoes: "She walked all over us."

Glinda arrives and reminsices with Elphaba. Glinda confirms she never had an affair with Fiyero, and Elphaba wonders if they are all still pawns of Madame Morrible. Glinda dismisses the possibility, but Elphaba says she has always felt like a pawn. Elphaba then learns how Glinda gave Dorothy Nessarose's shoes and sent them both out of Munchkinland quickly to avoid civil conflict between those who support independence and those who want to rejoin Oz. Elphaba is incensed because Nessarose promised her the shoes, but Glinda believes she had a right to give them away because she enchanted them. Elphaba insists the shoes must be recovered so the Wizard doesn't get them and use them to re-annex Munchkinland.

Book 5, Part 4

After the funeral, the Wizard comes to speak with Elphaba, wanting to know if she plans to take over as Eminence and explains the troops stationed near Kiamo Ko are there to keep watch on her. Elphaba asks about Sarima and the others, and the Wizard says they're dead, but he shows her he has Nor as a prisoner. Elphaba offers him the Grimmerie in exchange for Nor, but the Wizard will not commit to a deal. He decides to wait and see how things go in Munchkinland instead. Elphaba reminds him of their meeting when she was a student, and he remembers her connection to Madame Morrible, who kept watch on Elphaba after she left Shiz and helped the Wizard find out about the affair with Fiyero. He tells her he will send her word about Nor before the year is out.


The graffiti references to Nessarose's shoes painted around Colwen Grounds gives weight to Glinda's assertion that the shoes needed to be removed from Munchkinland. They are inextricably linked with Nessarose's abuse of power. If Glinda or Elphaba kept the shoes, they might very well spark the powder keg Elphaba fears in Book 5, Chapter 3. Furthermore, only Glinda knows the enchantment she placed on the shoes and what magical powers they might give the wearer in addition to the ability to walk upright without arms. Glinda sees through Elphaba's claim that she wants the shoes to keep them from the Wizard. Glinda tells Elphaba having the shoes "won't make your father love you any better." She knows Elphaba well enough to recognize her real interest in the shoes is based in her family dynamics and the old jealousy she has for Nessarose.

Because the shoes represent Nessarose's authority in Munchkinland, Elphaba's fear of their falling into the Wizard's hands is justified. He could conceivably use the shoes as a symbol to enable him to seize power. However, the Wizard expresses no interest in the shoes when he comes to Munchkinland, ostensibly to pay respects to Nessarose but really to get a sense of the political climate in her absence. He wants to see if Elphaba will stand in his way if he re-annexes the territory. He is far more interested in obtaining the Grimmerie. In the past, Elphaba would have kept the Grimmerie from him at all costs. To serve the greater good, the old Elphaba would not have given the tyrannical Wizard a book that could augment his power. Elphaba's losses have led her to value the individual human costs of her actions, however well intentioned. She lost Fiyero. She lost Sarima. Now she has an opportunity to save Nor and wants to take it.

Elphaba's conversations with Glinda and the Wizard fill in important holes in the story of Fiyero's fate. Elphaba asks Glinda if she ever had an affair with Fiyero, which shows that Elphaba considered Sarima's suspicions about Fiyero at least possible. So many years later, Elphaba still doesn't entirely trust Fiyero. A small part of her still thinks he might have carried on two affairs in the city.

Instead, Elphaba learns from the Wizard that she was never as well hidden as she thought she was in those days. Madame Morrible knew what Elphaba was up to and sent the Wizard's men after Fiyero. The revelation also raises Elphaba's old worries that her entire life, along with Glinda's and Nessarose's, have been orchestrated by Madame Morrible and her long-ago spell over them. Even though Glinda dismisses such an idea as ridiculous, as did Nessarose when she last spoke with Elphaba, the genius of Madame Morrible's spell is that it would allow the three women to make exactly such a dismissal. They can never really know whether they have spent their lives under Madame Morrible's thrall because the spell is designed that way.

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