Study Guide

The White Darkness Chapter 11

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Chapter 11

The Heart of the Barrier

  • Another postcard to Nikki: Dear Nikki, Uncle and Victor and I stole the Arctic vehicle to go find a portal to the underworld. Love, Sym. The note goes something like that anyway…
  • Sym asks Victor if he left word at camp about where they were going. He doesn't answer, but Shmoop has a guess: no.
  • Inside the Arctic vehicle, things feel a bit unreal, like an amusement park ride.
  • Sym takes comfort in the flags they pass since they indicate that the terrain has been explored by other people. And then the flags stop.
  • Sym tries to have faith in Victor, but she can't help but notice that the GPS system says they're now driving over the sea. That means they're on an ice shelf that could crack at any time.
  • It's loud inside in the vehicle, so Sym can't communicate with Victor. She can hear him, though, because he's wearing some sort of special headset.
  • There's a TV, so Sym switches over to Days of Our Lives. Just kidding. She's watching Manfred and Sigurd, who are in the back. Sigurd is unconscious.
  • Back at camp, as they loaded the vehicle, Sym realized Victor used his special tea bags to drug everyone at camp. And yet she still went on the trip.
  • Sym asks Victor if Sigurd has been drugged, but he ignores her. Eventually, Sigurd wakes up. Sym watches him argue with Manfred on the closed circuit TV, but she can't hear them.
  • When Victor stops the vehicle, Sym gets out and checks on Sigurd. He's not happy with the situation—Manfred is trying to keep him under control.
  • Manfred makes a move to punch Sigurd, but Sym steps in between for some reason, which means she takes the punch. Manfred does not apologize. In fact, he says nothing.
  • Manfred moves into the front seat with Victor. Sigurd tells Sym he wants to leave. She advises against it, though—in case he hadn't noticed, the weather's bad, and they're very far from camp.
  • Sym suggests they leave a trail so people can find them. Clever girl.
  • Sym tells Sigurd she thinks this whole idea is a bit crazy and she doesn't endorse it. For a moment, she thinks Victor overhears and she feels disloyal. It's a false alarm, though.
  • Victor's asleep at the wheel. Sigurd tries to take over the driving, but Victor wakes up and tells him to buzz off. Sym doesn't think he's slept at all during the trip.
  • Victor continues to doze off in the driver's seat, which makes the ride pretty bumpy for Sym and Sigurd in the back. Fuel cans are rolling around everywhere.
  • Victor stops the car and Manfred goes to the back to help tidy the fuel cans. Victor takes a nap.
  • Here comes an aircraft. It's loud, but it's impossible to know if it's a passenger plane or a rescue crew or what.
  • Sigurd looks for a flare. Sym says that's a bad idea, given all the fuel that's spilled everywhere—they'd all go up in flames.
  • At this, Manfred pulls a lighter out of his pocket like a total maniac. For a minute, it seems like he's about to light it… but he doesn't. Phew.
  • In his panic about the lighter, Sigurd referred to Manfred as "Mr. Bruch," which is a weird way to address your father, in our humble opinion.
  • Sym is so panicked after the almost-fire that she falls into an intense daydream with Titus. She pretends to be Florence, a girl the real Titus almost went out with (but didn't).
  • It's an intricate fantasy wherein Sym (as Florence) elopes with Titus and travels with him around the world.
  • Sym seems a little defensive about this fantasy. She compares it to the Brontë sisters, who imagined a whole town full of people.
  • Titus points out that Sigurd called his father Mr. Bruch, so we know Sym noticed.

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