Study Guide

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Volume 1, Chapter 8

By Gregory Maguire

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Volume 1, Chapter 8

Darkness Abroad

  • Time passes and Elphaba continues her play dates with the neighborhood kids.
  • Frex goes away for long periods, and Turtle Heart and Melena continue their affair, though things have mellowed between them.
  • Melena doesn't understand Turtle Heart like she does Frex, though, and she has feelings for both men.
  • One night at dinner the adults discuss Turtle Heart's past and he speaks of the "horrors" in Quadling Country.
  • Elphaba repeats this, and her very first word is "horrors." We're sure her parents are thrilled.
  • Turtle Heart explains that miners and speculators and government people have come to Quadling Country to build roads. These people destroy the environment and abuse and mistreat the Quadlings. Turtle Heart fears the newcomers will discover the rubies in Quadling Country and will begin mining.
  • The government's actions in the Quadling Country are reminiscent of real-world imperialism. Want to see how Quadling Country's story compares to instances of historical imperialism? Check out Shmoop's guides on Native American History, Spanish Colonization in the Americas, and American Imperialism in the 1890s.
  • Turtle Heart also predicts that "the danger is a foreigner" and says a cruel man of great power is coming to rule Oz. But wait, we thought the Wizard was "wonderful"! False advertising.
  • Elphaba keeps repeating "horrors," and this inspires Turtle Heart to continue on his journey to the Emerald City to speak out about the problems in Quadling Country.
  • Melena is not happy with her kid for breaking up her hot affair.
  • Frex is inspired to become a missionary in Quadling Country. Melena is even less thrilled now.
  • She announces bluntly that she is pregnant again and stomps off.
  • Nanny goes after her and takes her to task for continuing to drink. Nanny wonders who the father is this time, and Melena says she isn't sure.
  • So Nanny gives Melena some capsules that she bought from a woman named Yackle. Apparently these pills will ensure a healthy, non-green baby.
  • Yackle predicted that Melena would have another girl and that the two sisters would be really important, but Nanny doesn't tell Melena this.
  • The pills pack a punch and make Melena pretty dopey.
  • Frex notices that Elphaba is missing, and the adults rush out to look for her.
  • Turtle Heart keeps repeating "she is not far, she is not here" (1.7.119). Sounds like a fortune cookie.
  • They find Elphaba sitting by the lake, gazing into Turtle Heart's mirror. She's made a new friend, too, a sort of "strange hybrid of tiger and dragon, with glowing orangey eyes" (1.7.127). She's sitting with her new monster friend. It's a Kodak moment!
  • Nanny's fear of wild animals has been completely vindicated.
  • Turtle Heart sees what Elphaba sees in the mirror. The Wizard is coming, and Oz is descending into darkness. Creepy.

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