Study Guide

The White Darkness Chapter 5

By Geraldine McCaughrean

Chapter 5

Sigurd

  • Sym dozes a bit on the long flight to Buenos Aires. Uncle Victor does not.
  • Victor doesn't sleep that much, and when he does it's in a weird chair that vibrates to improve circulation.
  • The chair is back at the house with Sym's mum. Evidently Victor moved in to help with the mortgage.
  • In Buenos Aires, going through customs, Victor's teabags cause a bit of a commotion when the drug dogs sniffed them out. The customs officers just wave them through, though, thinking an Englishman's tea seems innocent enough.
  • Here's Jon, the trip leader. He's rounding up the other people who will be going to Antarctica.
  • The tour group drives around Buenos Aires, taking in some sights. Victor is not into it at all.
  • Sym has the terrible realization that she is going to have to talk to other humans during this trip. Dun dun dun…
  • Sym studies her fellow passengers. They mostly seem old and rich.
  • Many of these passengers are vaguely cartoonish: a British birdwatcher, a retired colonel and his young wife, and two blond Vikings.
  • The latter are a father-and-son pair, Manfred and Sigurd Birch. Sigurd, the teenage son, is of special interest to Sym, as you may have noticed from this chapter's title.
  • Oh, here's Madame Mimi Dormiere-St.-Pierre. She's fake French and wearing a pink snowsuit… in Buenos Aires.
  • Sym is looking forward to retiring to her room. When she asks Victor if she can call her mum, he says no.
  • Back in the room, there's an invitation to the evening's entertainment, an event called the Icebreaker. Sym is painfully shy and is not looking forward to breaking the ice.
  • Titus gives Sym a quick pep talk to the tune of you're going to have to meet these people at some point anyway.
  • Sym arrives at the Icebreaker. She wears hearing aids, and the racket of the party is overwhelming.
  • The whole gang is here, including Mimi, who's changed out of her pink snowsuit. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves—well, except Sym.
  • Sym watches the elder Viking work the room. He's very good with people, she notes. Meanwhile, the younger Viking, Sigurd, brings her an orange juice and makes polite conversation.
  • Sym is very bad at polite conversation, though, and she soon drives Sigurd away.
  • Feeling ill, Sym goes out to the stairs for a quick conversation with Titus. He cheers her up.

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