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Howl's Moving Castle
by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle Chapter 6 Summary
In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime Sophie continues to make herself busy mending and cleaning things in Howl's house—without something to do, she feels depressed and useless. The King's messenger stops by again to ask Howl to come up with another spell. Howl worries that now that the Wizard Suliman is lost, he's going to become the King's new wizard. When Michael goes to deliver a spell to the King and Howl leaves the house with his guitar, Sophie jumps at her chance. Remember how we mentioned that the door to the outside of the castle has a dial on it with four colors—green, red, blue, and black? Green = Market Chipping, Red = Kingsbury, and Blue = Porthaven. But what about black? Sophie turns the knob to black and opens the back door. It opens out onto a blank space that not even Calcifer recognizes. Howl has also locked his bedroom door, so Sophie can't snoop in there. Michael comes back and sees that Howl's guitar is gone. He knows what that means: Howl is still trying to win this girl who keeps refusing him. Sophie is outraged: how can they be so relaxed about the fact that Howl eats girls' hearts and steals their souls? Michael and Calcifer both protest—Howl doesn't literally eat their hearts; he's just really fickle and unfaithful. Sophie is a little embarrassed that she believed Howl is literally a heart-eater, and she talks to the gray-and-red suit that she is mending for Howl to relieve her feelings. Howl comes home in a bad mood and immediately goes into the bathroom to dye his hair. When he comes out, he is wailing with misery and rage. With all her cleaning, Sophie ruined Howl's hair dye—and now his hair is red instead of blond. Howl's magic starts to send out loud moans of despair. Michael drags Sophie out to Porthaven, where the whole town is echoing with Howl's sobs over his bad dye-job. (This guy defines the term "drama queen.") They wait for the sobs to die down. When Michael and Sophie creep back into Howl's castle, they find him covered in green slime. Howl is annoyed because his current girl just won't give him the time of day. In fact, the girl has told him that there is someone else. Howl is feeling sentimental about "lovely Lettie Hatter" (6.99). Abruptly, Sophie's sympathy for him drops to zero: Howl is making the moves on her baby sister Martha.
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