Study Guide

The White Darkness Chapter 14

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Chapter 14

"What Each Man Feels In His Heart, I Can Only Guess." –Scott

  • The vehicle is straddling a deep crack in the ice, but Sym has every confidence that Victor will get them out of this terrible situation.
  • Victor thinks they should evacuate. No way, Sym says—she read the vehicle's manual when she was in the back with Sigurd, and it says footfalls can break the ice more easily than the vehicle. Wait, what?
  • Victor, for the first time, seems concerned. Sym gives him a pep talk, telling him to think happy thoughts. It works.
  • Somehow they claw their way out of the crevasse. The GPS isn't working anymore, by the way, and they're in unmapped territory.
  • Victor decides that Sigurd should walk in front of the vehicle to help avoid any more brushes with the abyss.
  • In a rush of courage (or stupidity—your call, Shmoopers), Sym says she'll walk with Sigurd. They hold hands as they walk.
  • Sym thinks about the story behind her name and realizes that her father named her for Symmes's Hole, though she lies about it when Sigurd asks.
  • Sym realizes something else: Her father must have hunted for Symmes's Hole with Uncle Victor. It's all coming together…
  • The fog breaks and Sym and Sigurd are overwhelmed by all the colors and optical illusions.
  • Manfred thinks he sees a castle, but Titus tells Sym that it's just a mirage. She knows that Titus is right.
  • Finally, Manfred realizes the castle is a mirage; he stops driving, hugely disappointed.
  • Sym thinks Sigurd should comfort his father, but Sigurd hits him on the head with a frozen mitten instead.
  • Sans Norwegian accent, Manfred confesses that he has been lying this whole time: He is not a film director; he's a con man who's been trying to trick Victor out of his money.
  • Victor is not perturbed. He moves to fix some drinks.
  • Manfred keeps trying to explain himself, but Victor isn't paying attention—he doesn't seem to care at all. Manfred's going into all the gory details of his treachery. Why? Maybe because Victor refuses to react.
  • There was no guy at NASA, no special fossil, and above all, no Symmes's Hole. Victor's just like, whatever—it's still real and we're still going there.
  • Manfred admits that he almost killed all three of them back during his weird moment with the lighter. Of course, ultimately he didn't. What a prince.
  • Sym feels complicit in the treachery because on some level she knew things weren't right. She beats herself up about it.
  • Victor's ready to get back on the road. Manfred is totally horrified, though, and he offers to give back the money.
  • Now Victor admits to his own bit of treachery: There is no money—the check is bad. Ha.
  • Manfred laughs hysterically. Victor asks if he can go retrieve a mask that Sigurd dropped, and Manfred goes after it.
  • But before Manfred gets back to the vehicle, Victor starts to drive away—slowly, but not so slow that Manfred can catch up.
  • Manfred runs after the vehicle as Sym and Sigurd cheer him on. He almost catches up, but then he falls and breaks his ankle. Victor drives away.

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