Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 12

By John Shors

Chapter 12

Friends for Trade

  • Jahanara thoroughly enjoys Arjumand's first year of life, relishing her babyhood every day (and with Isa, every night, whenever possible).
  • The Taj Mahal is almost halfway done, and it's already stunning to behold.
  • Unfortunately, Aurangzeb returns to Agra after a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Persians to the north.
  • Sensing an opportunity, the Deccans revolt and start attacking from the south.
  • Aurangzeb's return only sows discord at court between the Hindus and Muslims, as well as between himself and Dara, due to his bigoted beliefs. Riots break out, and temples and mosques are burned.
  • Jahanara debates whose side is safer to take (at least for her daughter's sake), but Aurangzeb's violent and terrible tactics to sow fear make her choose Dara out of an ethical necessity.
  • Father tries to negotiate a peace between the brothers at a secret rooftop family meeting. He tells his boys that Jahanara would make a better ruler than both of them, which is probably right, but it puts her in an even more dangerous position, because it increases Aurangzeb's envy.
  • The only reason Aurangzeb doesn't kill them all then and there is most likely because no greater sin exists in Islam than patricide.
  • Father orders Aurangzeb to lead a huge force north to decimate the Persians.
  • Dara thinks it's unwise to leave Agra so defenseless.
  • After the boys have been dismissed, Jahanara and her father discuss politics. Father admits that Aurangzeb is a butthead, but Dara is too softhearted to really ruleā€”he needs to be toughened up.
  • Jahanara plots and plots. She decides she needs more spies, so she asks Nizam to join Aurangzeb's forces. She hates to have him leave her and be in such danger, but she thinks it's for the best.
  • Nizam abandons his cherished work at the Taj Mahal to do this favor for the sake of his long friendship with Jahanara.
  • Jahanara is wracked by guilt over using her friends for such dangerous work. Remember how Ladli is helping her, too?
  • Isa tries to convince Jahanara that she's doing the right thing.