Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky Chapter 17

By John Shors

Chapter 17

Death and Dishonor

  • The Red Fort is forced to surrender pretty quickly to Aurangzeb's forces, and the Emperor is now held captive in the Musamman Burj, a.k.a. the Octagonal Tower.
  • Don't worry, though: Dad has a great view of the Taj Mahal.
  • Dara has been accused and condemned of heresy and will be publicly beheaded the next day.
  • Jahanara wakes up naked, in a cell, surrounded by hungry hunting cheetahs. That is…um…unconventional.
  • Aurangzeb shows up to gloat and leaves Jahanara there to be eaten by the cheetahs.
  • Good thing cheetahs don't really eat people—but don't tell Aurangzeb that.
  • That night, Ladli shows up in disguise with food for the cheetahs. She promises to pass a message to Isa that Jahanara has been detained but will come to him when she can.
  • The next morning, Aurangzeb shows up to make sure Jahanara watches Dara's execution.
  • Dara's head isn't the only one on the chopping block: his thirteen-year-old son is executed as well, for good measure.
  • Afterward, Jahanara is thrown into her father's cell in the Musamman Burj.
  • Father is still really ill, and he's certainly not doing any better after Jahanara fills him in on everything that's happened.
  • Soon, Aurangzeb, Ladli, Khondamir, and some young woman enter the cell.
  • Aurangzeb presents Dara's head as a gift. Ew.
  • Aurangzeb declares that his father will be imprisoned there for the rest of his life—however long that may be—because Islam forbids sons from killing their fathers. As for Jahanara, Khondamir can sell her to a brothel or whatever he wants once the nobles who want to visit have seen them and leave.
  • Jahanara, ever the clever girl, bluffs with all her might and tells Aurangzeb that if she or Father were to die one of her "spies" will put a cobra in his bed. There, take that, ya big bully.
  • Before everyone leaves from the cell, Jahanara gets one last dagger in and tells Khondamir that Arjumand isn't his.
  • Boom.