Study Guide

The White Darkness Plot Analysis

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Plot Analysis

Exposition

Cold Open

The book begins with every girl's dream: Sym is ripped from her Paris vacation and plopped down into Antarctica. (Hmm, wait a sec—maybe that's just Sym's dream.) Because The White Darkness has elements of mystery, we don't get all the background at once. Details will emerge as the novel unfolds, but as Sym's vacation veers off course, we're already on the edge of our seats. She's alone with her strange "Uncle" Victor, after all, on a trip that's officially not going according to plan.

Rising Action

On Thin Ice

Sym's Antarctic vacation is going swell until Uncle Victor blows up a plane and poisons a bunch of people. Stealing away in the night while everyone sleeps, Manfred and Sigurd join Victor and Sym for a leisurely drive along the ice shelf to find Symmes's Hole, the object of Victor's obsession. What could possibly go wrong?

Climax

Murphy's Law

Guess what? Literally everything goes wrong. It turns out that heavy vehicles and thin ice aren't exactly a match made in heaven. After a harrowing drive and an almost-fall into the abyss, Manfred comes clean with Victor—he's a con man, and there is no Symmes's Hole—so Victor murders Manfred and keeps driving, unperturbed. Soon after that, Sigurd steals the vehicle, leaving Sym and Victor to die in the cold. We're not going to lie: Things aren't looking good for our girl Sym.

Falling Action

Bye Bye Bye (Uncle Victor)

Thinking he's finally found Symmes's Hole, Uncle Victor forces himself through a crack in the ice, plunging to his certain death. Sym is so sad and so spent that she doesn't have it in her to be angry with him for being a total psychopath. She's also losing her will to survive. Good old Titus is there for her, though, leading her to safety.

Resolution

Sym Gets Some Much-Earned Rest

Sym is rescued. As she recovers on the boat ride home, Sigurd tries to convince everyone that she's lost her mind. She hasn't, though. In fact, Sym sees things clearly now—and she definitely sees Mike, a young man who's romantically interested in her. She sees Mike very clearly indeed.

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