Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Chapter 38

By Libba Bray

Chapter 38

  • Inside the garden everything has changed—it is ugly and depressing and gray, and the boat is stuck in the ice on the river.
  • Gemma's mother calls for her, then comforts her through her guilt and shame at using the magic and leaving Pippa behind—she entices Gemma to touch the runes and use the magic to help the situation. 
  • The pure magic is powerful and Gemma touches her mother, who turns into the wraith. 
  • Together they start sucking all the magic out, and Gemma feels all- powerful, a feeling she likes even though she can't control it.
  • During the magical surge, she has a choice to make: She can either fight the power to join with the creature and Circe, or she can submit to it. 
  • The magic makes her sleepy and she feels like giving in—but then suddenly, she chooses. 
  • Gemma uses her will to push away the feeling of wanting to conquer the world, and she decides she wants to return to her life—there are screams of protest from the damned souls who want her to come to their side and give them power.
  • She fights them all off.
  • But the wraith squeezes her neck and she almost submits.
  • Then Gemma whispers that she forgives her mother and the creature is weakened—so she repeats this over and over, then smashes the runes with a rock. 
  • The wraith is sucked up into the dark sky, gone—Gemma's mother is also gone, but she feels okay about it.
  • Actually, she feels okay about everything in her life, and brims with forgiveness and gratitude for being alive.
  • Gemma finds Pippa under the ice and breaks it open with a rock to get her; once on the bank, though, she sees that though Pippa is alive, she looks unwell and close to death. 
  • Gemma says they should get back, but Pippa doesn't want to fight her life situation—she's tired of it.
  • Gemma tries to protest but Pippa repeats what Miss Moore told the girls: that in life, there are no good and bad choices, just different ones.
  • And then Pippa eats a handful of berries—when she does, the beauty returns to her face and hair, and the garden slowly becomes lovely again too.
  • Pippa gets into the boat and drifts off, across the river to her knight. The little girl, Carolina, looks on but realizes she isn't the soul she is waiting for.
  • When Gemma returns to Spence, Felicity is distraught that Pippa's dead.
  • Spence holds a funeral for Pippa, and after the service, Gemma sees Kartik outside and sneaks over to him—he says he's sorry about Pippa and lets Gemma vent a bit.
  • Then he wipes away some dirt on her face and it is tender and she loves that he touched her. He runs away to the Gypsies' camp.
  • Felicity asks Gemma what happened to her when the wraith grabbed her arm and she went cold, but Gemma doesn't know.
  • Then Felicity says she has nightmares now and sees things during the day that scare her—but Gemma isn't alarmed by this news; instead she is kind of comforted by the fact that Felicity shares part of her secret life now.