Study Guide

Nation Chapter 6

By Terry Pratchett

Chapter 6

A Star is Born

  • With Cahle about to give birth any second, Daphne frantically flips through a medical book and remembers the night her own mother died giving birth to her stillborn baby brother.
  • Daphne does not want this birth to go the same way.
  • Also, everyone expects a song to welcome the baby into the world, although Daphne has no idea what kind of song. She sings the first thing that pops into her head: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
  • It actually comes across as pretty profound. Pilu says "[The baby] will be, yes, like a star, guiding people in the dark. He will twinkle, but I don't know what that means..." (6.29).
  • And, as the chapter title says, a star is born. No, they don't named the baby Judy or Barbra, but they almost name him Twinkle.
  • Luckily, Daphne convinces them that Guiding Star would be better.
  • Over the next two weeks, Cahle teaches Daphne the ways of the Women's Place, including making beer, which Daphne calls "Demon Drink."
  • More people arrive on the island, including an old lady they call Mrs. Gurgle "because she had the noisiest stomach Daphne had ever heard" (6.91).
  • In the forest, Mau, Pilu, and Milo are dismantling the Sweet Judy, salvaging what they can, including handy tools they had never thought they needed until they saw them.
  • Pilu also convinces Mau to try on some of the trousers they find.
  • Meanwhile, back on the beach, Daphne is having a grass skirt made for her by the Unknown Woman, which is what they're calling the woman with the baby who arrived with Ataba.
  • Fun! Maybe they're planning a luau.
  • Now wearing pants, Mau gets into an argument with Pilu over the gods.
  • To complicate things, the Grandfathers shout inside Mau's head, demanding he bring up the last of the god anchors.
  • Shifting back to the beach, we see Daphne employing the scientific method to figure out why spitting and singing to the Mother of Beer changes it from poison to something drinkable.
  • After a few tests, she realizes that something molecular in human spit and something in the frequency of a woman's voice must change the chemical composition of the poison.
  • Yeah, kids, don't try this at home.
  • Back on the Judy again, Mau and company discover a map of the ocean. They see that the trousermen call their island "Mothering Sundays" (6.301) instead of "Sunrise Islands"—just like we say Japan instead of Nippon or Italy instead of Italia.
  • Mau and Daphne meet on the beach. Seeing each other in a grass skirt and trousers, they can only laugh at how silly they look, because LOL, they're both wearing clothes that are foreign to their culture. Ah, exchange students.