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Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle


by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle Chapter 21 Summary

In Which a Contract is Concluded Before Witnesses

  • Even though everyone else tries to catch the scarecrow, Sophie runs into the flower shop to grab those seven league boots, and then she uses those boots to run toward the Waste.
  • She blames herself for letting Miss Angorian get kidnapped.
  • Inside her fortress, the Witch is waiting for Sophie, looking skinny and tired.
  • The Witch traps Sophie in some orange goo and leaves her so that they can wait for Howl.
  • The Witch gestures at a man nearby—who appears to have no head—and then reveals her evil scheme: this body is put together from parts of Prince Justin and the Wizard Suliman.
  • She wants to take Howl's head and add it to the body to build a perfect man. (So the Witch of the Waste is literally making herself a man. This seems like a terrific plan—what could possibly go wrong?)
  • A hole blasts in the wall of the fortress. It's the scarecrow, and the witch and the scarecrow start fighting in a magic cloud.
  • Howl then appears through the hole in the wall and sends a spell at the Witch that collapses her into nothing.
  • It turns out that there wasn't much left of her anyway because her fire demon had gained almost complete control.
  • The scarecrow explains to Sophie that he used to belong to the Wizard Suliman, and when the Witch came for the Wizard Suliman, he put most of his magic into the scarecrow and commanded it to collect the pieces of him to put them back together.
  • When Sophie talked to the scarecrow in the hedge—way back in Chapter Two—she gave him enough life to keep going with his job.
  • Howl invites the scarecrow back to the moving castle. Between Percival, the headless body, and the scarecrow's skull, they can put Prince Justin and the Wizard Suliman back together.
  • Sophie asks about Miss Angorian—shouldn't they save her?
  • Miss Angorian is the witch's fire demon, Howl explains, so if she gets into the moving castle he and Calcifer are dead meat.
  • Sophie replies that she has been in the castle—twice. And Miss Angorian touched the guitar while she was there.
  • Howl realizes that Miss Angorian must still be there, so he and Sophie rush back to the moving castle.
  • Howl admits that he has been looking for Prince Justin all along.
  • And Sophie gets that Howl is being honest at last—which is the last bit of the curse coming true. It's the wind to advance an honest mind.
  • When they arrive at the castle, everything looks normal: Percival is still out cold; Lettie, Martha, and Michael are gathered around him; it sounds like Mrs. Fairfax and Fanny are cleaning Howl's grimy room upstairs.
  • Howl jumps for the guitar, but suddenly Miss Angorian appears—her plan is to take Howl's heart now that the Witch is dead.
  • She grabs Calcifer from the fireplace and squeezes Howl's heart (which is at the base of Calcifer's body) to make him obey.
  • Sophie commands her stick to beat Miss Angorian and only Miss Angorian.
  • Miss Angorian drops Calcifer in shock at the beating, and Sophie picks him up.
  • Percival's eyes are still closed, but he runs for the door and throws it open—the scarecrow is outside, along with the headless body from the Witch's fortress.
  • Sophie asks if it will kill Calcifer if she breaks his contract with Howl.
  • Calcifer says no—after all, Sophie talks life into things.
  • Sophie tells him to "have another thousand years" (21.89) and separates Calcifer's body from Howl's heart at his base.
  • Calcifer flies out the chimney.
  • Sophie pushes Howl's heart back into his chest while telling it to work.
  • (She's having trouble seeing what she's doing because her reddish hair keeps getting in the way—which means that the Witch's spell on her is broken and she is old no longer.)
  • Sophie tells Howl he's got to get up right now and deal with Miss Angorian; Howl says something magical and he's suddenly holding a small, hard, black thing.
  • It's the Witch's heart. Howl crumbles it in his hand, and Miss Angorian disappears.
  • The minute she is gone two men appear where the scarecrow and Percival had been standing, one with a craggy face and red hair (the Wizard Suliman) and one with a green uniform (Prince Justin).
  • Sophie has to break the news to Howl that Calcifer is gone.
  • Howl is sad but also glad—he didn't want to be like the Witch of the Waste and Miss Angorian.
  • While Sophie is occupied talking to Howl, Prince Justin announces that he is going back to talk to the King.
  • And the restored Wizard Suliman goes over to Lettie and offers to take her on as a student "at least" (21.110)—Lettie blushes bright red.
  • Howl offers Sophie a happily-ever-after, and they both look extremely happy.
  • Everyone standing around them is trying to get their attention about something or other, but they don't care.
  • The one thing that gets through is Michael's announcement: Calcifer is back.
  • Calcifer says he doesn't mind staying, as long as he's free to come and go, so the whole moving castle family is together again.
  • Yay for happy endings, right?

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