Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 2

By Libba Bray

Chapter 2

  • After saying such a mean thing to her mother, Gemma runs off in a teen-pout—she knows that she is acting badly but can't help feeling super emotional.
  • Once she is calm, Gemma tries to find her way back to where she left her mother and Sarita, but she doesn't know how she got to where she is. 
  • She's nervous about being out by herself since ladies are not supposed to walk alone, and people will think badly of her.
  • Sensibly, Gemma asks a man for directions, but he points at her necklace and talks to another man in Hindi and shoos her away, then hides in his house, leaving her outside with a storm about to hit.
  • Just when she has decided to pick a route and start walking, Gemma sees the young Indian man from earlier coming toward her and she slips. He is walking right toward her… Who is this guy?
  • Gemma thinks about how her father used to talk about young women being attacked by men when they were out alone, and how it ruined their lives forever, so she gets up to run… but then she is seized by a terribly strange feeling. 
  • The man reaches Gemma, but she can't talk or move. He doesn't look dangerous, and then she slips into some kind of dream where she sees herself as a child, and then sees her mother walking toward her with the other man from earlier following behind her. 
  • Scared, Gemma tries to call out to her mom, but no sound comes out and she can barely walk; she follows her mother into a store but her mother doesn't see her. 
  • Gemma must be invisible. 
  • Behind her, the man takes out a knife. 
  • In the corner, Gemma notices the shadows moving and turning into a terrifying blackness that is alive and moaning—the man tries to attack it but it swallows him, and heads for her mother.
  • Quickly, Gemma's mom sees the dagger, grabs it, then whispers "Gemma," before stabbing herself to death. 
  • At that desperate moment, Gemma is sucked back into reality, where the young man is shaking her and asking her what she saw. 
  • She is totally freaking out, of course, and can't answer his questions. He asks if she saw his brother and she kicks and hits him to try to get away and find her mom.
  • Finally she kicks him in his, shall we say tender region, and runs away, coming upon a scene on the walkway in front of a store—the same one from her dream.
  • Slowly, Gemma takes in the body and blood of her mother on the street. She is in disbelief, but this is real and right in front of her.
  • She lets out a scream and the monsoon hits.