Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire
Memory and the Past Quotes in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph) and (Volume.Chapter.Section.Paragraph)
Elphaba the girl does not know how to see her father as a broken man. All she knows is that he passes his brokenness on to her. Daily his habits of loathing and self-loathing cripple her. Daily she loves him back because she knows no other way. (5.11.31)
There's a major style shift that occurs when Elphaba is having her flashbacks/Miracle Elixir-induced visions. In this passage, we shift to the present tense, which is a little jarring, since the event being described here occurred years earlier.
She didn't mention (and she never had) how depressed Melena became when Elphaba was born. There was no point.
Elphie listened to all this, impatient and annoyed. On the one hand she wanted to throw it out the window: The past was immaterial. On the other, things fell into a slightly different order now. (188.8.131.52-51)
Nanny and Elphaba both unknowingly share a similar view of the past here: the past is past and has no bearing on the present. We wonder, though, if Elphaba would have the same attitude if Nanny actually spilled the beans about Melena's postpartum (after giving birth) depression.
"Melena hated her life at Colwen Grounds, you know. That's why she contrived to fall in love with Frex and get out of there." . . .
"She always talked about it so lovingly!" said Elphaba, astounded.
"Oh, everything is gorgeous once it's gone." (184.108.40.206-9)
We love that last sentence. It's classic Nanny, smart (even profound) idea spoken in a very offhand way. And it also introduces a cool theme: the idea of romanticizing the past. We see Elphaba do this during her reunion with Boq, when she waxes nostalgic about their exciting college days and complains about what middle-aged losers they have become.