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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Angelou Maya

  • Window Douglas’s

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Anne Johnson in Missouri in 1928. When her older brother was young, he could not say her name and so “Maya” is how she was known. Maya and her siblings were bounced around between homes through their childhood and adolescence due to their parents’ divorce, spending some time in Arkansas with their grandmother and then to California with their mother.

Maya became invested in the civil rights movement when she was only fifteen years old and ended up becoming the first African American streetcar conductor in San Francisco. Maya has received praise and recognition from such powerful political and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter and was also commissioned by Bill Clinton to write a poem, called “On the Pulse of Morning”, for his presidential inauguration in 1993.

Throughout Angelou’s life, she expressed her creativity in writing, film, and on the stage, all three of which she earned critical acclaim for. As Maya often spoke of her rather intense upbringing, she was urged to write an autobiography which turned into a series of autobiographies of which “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was the first and the most well-known.

It is often used as an accompaniment in English courses when studying texts that involve racism and fetched Angelou the National Book Award.Some schools have removed “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” from their reading lists because they feel the content is too mature for school-aged readers, as Maya is quite candid in discussing her experiences with racism and rape.

Angelou’s autobiographies have proved a great record of civil rights issues in the country, and she will forever live in infamy due to the strides she made in the civil rights movement.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” tells the autobiographical story of Maya Angelou and her brother Bailey’s experiences growing up in a time of extreme racism. Maya and Bailey are abandoned by their parents when Maya is only three years old, and they are sent to live with their paternal grandmother, whom they call Momma. Momma is a great moral figure in Maya’s life and wishes nothing but the best for the children though they soon begin to feel the sting of being abandoned.

Maya suffers from terrible self-esteem issues that lead to her believing she will never be as beautiful as the white girls she is surrounded with and in being so embarrassed to speak in public that she runs from a church crying and wetting herself when she cannot finish reciting a poem, though Bailey is helpful by sticking up for Maya when others ridicule her. Maya and Bailey go to live with their mother, Vivian, when she is seven years old and shortly thereafter she is molested and then raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman.

Shortly after the trial, Mr. Freeman is murdered, and Maya thinks that it is her fault and also deals with the emotional baggage that comes along with being sexually abused.

Maya and Bailey are sent back to live with Momma who introduces Maya to a woman named Mrs. Flowers who teaches Maya the power of literature in overcoming her inner demons. Maya begins to respect the work of her community and learn a lot about racism in her surroundings. When Momma begins to be concerned for Maya and Bailey living in such a hate-fueled racist environment she sends them to live with Vivian again. Maya, Bailey, and Vivian move to San Francisco with Vivian’s new husband, a positive influence named Daddy Clidell, and Maya finally feels she is home.

After visiting her father and getting in a fight with his girlfriend Maya lives with some homeless teens before moving back to San Francisco and immersing herself in the civil rights movement. She soon becomes the first African American conductor on a San Francisco streetcar and gets pregnant at the age of sixteen, a fact which she hides from her parents until she is eight months along. When Maya gives birth to her son, she finally feels confident in her abilities as a parent and a human.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is the protagonist as the story is autobiographical. She is a girl of three years when the story begins and sixteen years at the end. Her childhood is riddled with racism, sexual abuse, abandonment, and identity confusion.

Maya has a hard time feeling as though she belongs in any one place because she is moved around so much though she finally feels content in San Francisco. The single most important person in Maya’s life is her brother, Bailey, though she eventually begins to form relationships with her parents, as well. She is extremely perceptive and intelligent beyond her years.

Bailey Johnson Jr.

Bailey is Maya’s older brother by one year. He is a good looking boy who develops a rather sarcastic personality in his adolescence. He is the most important person in Maya’s life, and they share a very close bond. Bailey is extremely intelligent, like Maya, but, unlike Maya, he removes himself from the racist situations and does not allow them to anger him. He has an unyielding compassion for his sister and protects her from situations in which people disrespect her whenever possible. Bailey moves out on his own as a teenager though he and Maya remain close.

Vivian Baxter

Vivian is Maya’s and Bailey’s mother who abandons them when they are three and four years, respectively. Vivian is spontaneous, powerful, strong, loving, and breathtakingly beautiful. Vivian is a trained and certified nurse, but she makes her living running gambling operations, which can sometimes cause her to be an inattentive mother. Despite the fact that Vivian abandoned the children and can be inattentive at times, she is respectful, loving, far, and compassionate as a mother when they reconcile.

Momma (Annie Henderson)

Momma is Maya’s and Bailey’s paternal grandmother and the woman who raises them for a good portion of their young lives. Momma is a religious woman who works hard to instill morals, values, a sense of respect, and class within the children. She is a very strong and powerful woman, as she owns the only store in town and serves as a greatly positive influence in Maya’s life. Momma only sends the kids to live with their mother when she fears that Stamps is becoming too violent for them.

Big Bailey

Big Bailey is the father to Maya and Bailey and the son of Momma. When Maya first meets Big Bailey as a young girl she is amazed that he is her father because he is tall, drives a car, and speaks like a white man. He has a lively and likeable personality, but it becomes obvious that he is arrogant and selfish, as well. Despite the fact that Big Bailey makes an attempt to form a relationship with Maya, he does not seem to have any respect for her and treats her with the same arrogance he treats everyone else.

Daddy Clidell

Daddy Clidell is Vivian’s husband and the first stable father figure in Maya’s life. She appreciates Daddy Clidell because he is even-tempered, kind, tender, strong, and modest despite his successes. Daddy Clidell becomes proof for Maya that, despite their lack of good education, black people can make something of their lives. Daddy Clidell enjoys his role as Maya’s father and treats her as such, even in the presence of his friends who tell her stories about their various cons against white men.

Mr. Freeman

Mr. Freeman is the fat, older man whom Vivian lives with in St. Louis. As soon as Maya meets him she feels sorry for him because it is obvious that Vivian is too good for him and he spends most of his time waiting around for her to get home. Mr. Freeman molests and rapes Maya though she does not understand that it is wrong at first. After Maya testifies against Mr. Freeman, he is beaten to death, and she carries unnecessary guilt about his death with her for years.

Willie Johnson

Willie is the uncle of Maya and Bailey, the son of Momma, and the brother of Big Bailey. He was injured as a child, which caused him to be physically disabled for the rest of his life, and he suffers much discrimination and ridicule because of it. Maya finds that he sometimes hides his disability from people because he does not want their false pity or sympathy. Willie is very religious, just like Momma and acts as a protector and disciplinarian to Maya and Bailey.

Mrs. Bertha Flowers

Mrs. Flowers is a rare black Aristocrat that lives in Stamps whom Maya enjoys spending time with. To Maya, Mrs. Flowers is glamorous just like the characters in the books she reads though Momma is not too fond of her. Mrs. Flowers makes it her mission to bring Maya out of her silence in the wake of the rape by having her read poetry and literature aloud. Maya idolizes Mrs. Flowers and appreciates the love of literature that they share and the cookies that Mrs. Flowers bakes for her and Bailey.

Mrs. Viola Cullinan

Mrs. Cullinan is the white women whom Maya works for when she is ten years old.  Mrs. Cullinan calls Maya “Margaret” rather than her real name “Marguerite” and her snobby friends encourage her to call Maya “Mary” because they believe it is easier.

Mrs. Cullinan begins referring to Maya as “Mary” which infuriates her and causes her to plan a scheme that will get her fired, as Momma would be upset if she quit. Bailey tells Maya to smash some of Mrs. Cullinan’s china and so she does which results in the loss of her job and the embarrassment of Mrs. Cullinan in front of her friends.

Mr. Edward Donleavy

Mr. Donleavy is the white man who gives a speech at Maya’s eighth grade graduation. Despite his seemingly good intentions, he manages to insult the entire black population by remarking how many athletes have come from their school and making no mention of their academics.  His speech has racist undertones and implies that the black community has no chance of success in the working world, due to their lack of intelligence, and instead should concentrate on athletics because that is where their only chance of success lies.

Henry Reed

Henry is the valedictorian of Maya’s class. He gives a speech right after Mr. Donleavy so everyone, especially Maya, is still upset when he begins. As he talks about hope for the future, Maya is upset because she feels like there is none but soon he restores her faith because he leads the class in singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”, the black national anthem.

Maya feels instantly proud of her heritage once again and has a newfound respect for her people and her opportunities in life. Henry Reed also sparks for Maya an interest in passionate black speakers.

Dolores Stockland

Dolores is the live-in girlfriend of Big Bailey whom Maya exchanges letters with before she visits. Maya is surprised to find how prim and proper Dolores is, especially consider she and Big Bailey live in a trailer.

Dolores and Maya instantly butt heads over Maya’s messiness and Dolores’ insecurity and jealousy over the time Maya spends with Big Bailey. When Maya and Big Bailey return from Mexico she apologizes to Dolores for coming between she and Big Bailey, not meaning to, and in return Dolores stabs Maya with a pair of scissors.

Joyce

Joyce is a local girl who is developed beyond her age that Bailey falls in love with. Bailey had set up a tent in the backyard where he would bring girls and have Maya keep watch, and that is where he lost his virginity to Joyce.

Bailey would steal things from the store for Joyce, but she soon disappeared. Momma finds out from Joyce’s aunt that she has run away with a railroad porter, and Bailey is devastated. Maya disliked Joyce before but dislikes her even more for hurting Bailey.

Dr. Lincoln

Dr. Lincoln is the dentist in town who only accepts white patients. When Maya has a terrible toothache, Momma brings her to see Dr. Lincoln because the black dentist is so far away, sure that Dr. Lincoln will see her because Momma once gave him a loan when he was in a pinch.

Dr. Lincoln refuses to see Maya and says he would rather stick his hand in a dog’s mouth. He believes he owes Momma nothing because he repaid his debt, though out of anger she demands that he pay her $10 interest for the $100 he borrowed, despite the fact that they had no interest agreement previously.

Racism

Racism is central to the story because much of who Maya Angelou grew to be as an adult is because of the adversity she faced and saw around her while she was growing up.

Angelou saw the fear of black men when lynch mobs came through town, the pain and astonishment in Bailey’s face when he saw the rotting corpse and the embarrassment in her classmate’s faces when the white man who spoke at their graduation talked of the black students as if their academics did not matter. She also experienced the racism for herself when she worked for the Cullinan family who could not even be bothered to remember her name.

Identity

Maya is in a constant struggle to learn who she is. She never feels as though she belongs anywhere or that she fits in with classmates, regardless of race. Angelou feels awkward in her own body throughout her younger years, much of which stems from her feelings about being raped, and especially in her adolescence when she begins going through puberty. When she learns about lesbians she wonders if she is one because she feels like an outsider, which leads her to have sex with a neighbor and get pregnant. It is not until Maya has her own child that she finally begins to feel comfortable with herself.

Rape

Angelou’s rape becomes a significant factor in her younger years. Despite the fact that she was molested a few times before she was actually raped, she never reports it, feeling that it will bring the death of Bailey as Mr. Freeman has promised and the disappointment of her family.

After Mr. Freeman is killed, Maya feels an intense guilt as though she caused his death by speaking. Because of Mr. Freeman’s death and Maya’s guilty feelings, she does not speak to anyone other than Bailey for a very long time, fearing that the words that come out of her mouth cause death to happen.

Education

Angelou does receive an education though her intelligence does not come from her schooling but rather from her environment. Momma brings Maya and Bailey up to be very respectful and decent people with a sense of class, which helps to define Maya as she grows.

Mrs. Flowers makes Maya’s interest in literature and the dramatic world much more real and passionate than it was before and truly impresses upon her the importance of words and expression. Maya becomes educated by the things she experiences and those are what help her grow as a person.

Ignorance

In this story, ignorance often stems from racism. People often make assumptions or decisions about people based on their race. For example, Willie has to hide when the lynch mob comes through because he will be a target because of his race, and the assumption that because he is black he is a rapist, if the man who actually violated the white woman is not caught.

Momma shows ignorance too because Maya and Bailey know that although she does not know who Shakespeare is she would not approve of Maya reading him because he is white.

Self-Esteem

Maya has a serious problem with self-esteem when she is younger, and this stems from her identity issues and the fact that she has no idea who she is. Maya has always felt ugly because she is big for her age, her skin is very dark, and her hair is kinky. She feels uglier than ever when she finds out that, like Bailey, her parents Vivian and Big Bailey are very attractive.

Maya is even told by her uncles that it is okay that she is not attractive because she is smart, which affirms her suspicion that she is ugly. Also, when Maya is looking for a boy to have sex with to be sure she is not a lesbian she knows that most of the boys are chasing after girls with straight hair and light skin.

Strength

Strength is very important because the strength of the people around Maya is what makes her such a strong woman when she gets older. The women in Maya’s life are positive figures, despite the fact that her mother abandoned her when she was young.

Momma teaches Maya and Bailey respect, morals, and class, Vivian shows strength and power, and Mrs. Flowers shows intelligence and kindness. Bailey is a constant, supportive force in Maya’s life, and Daddy Clidell is a positive father figure that provides support and tenderness. The existence of these strong influences is undoubtedly what helped Maya overcome so many horrible realities.

Influence of Childhood

Maya Angelou’s documentation of her experience in her younger life proves that where we have been influences where we will go in life. Every negative experience that Angelou had in her life became the grounds for her work in civil rights, women’s rights, literature, film, and stage work.

Every bit of success and influence that she has had in her adult life has stemmed from the culmination of her younger experiences with racism, sexism, abuse, and prejudice. She is proof that what we go through as children greatly influences who we become as adults.

Segregation

The town of Stamps is separated and segregated into a black area, and a white area, as are the schools. The black part of time is equal to a lack of education, poverty, and lower social status.  The black community is unable to get jobs that pay enough to support a family, have no political say whatsoever, are considered inferior in every aspect of life, and forbidden from socializing with the white population.

The black people are expected to refer to whites by proper titles, and, in many cases, the jobs the blacks can get are in white homes as servants or laborers. As is illustrated at Maya’s eighth grade graduation, the white school is known for its academics and the black school is known for its athletics as education is not seen as important for them.

Religion

Religion is imperative for the black community in stamps because it gives them something to have faith in, something to hope for, and a promise for the future. Momma believes in the power of religion, especially, and impresses its importance upon Maya and Bailey.

The town has annual religious revivals to remind the people how important it is to put their faith in the Lord during times of oppression and in the face of adversity. Maya especially enjoys church because she finds the writings of the Bible to be both educational and beautiful.

Maya’s parents divorce when she and her brother Bailey are three and four years old, respectively. It is after the divorce that the children are sent on a train with the aid of a porter from California to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson.

The porter only accompanies the children to Arizona and sends them on the rest of their journey with pieces of paper tacked to their clothing that list their destination. When they get to Arkansas, they move in with Mrs. Henderson, whom they call “Momma”, and her son, Willie, who is a disabled adult. Momma is the owner and proprietor of the only store in Stamps and thus a well-respected member of the community.

Maya finds herself immersed in the lives of the cotton-pickers who frequent Momma’s store and is outraged by the desperate and unfair realities of their lives as compared with the stereotypes of “happy” cotton-pickers.

Willie, Momma’s son, was injured when he was just a child and it left him crippled. Many people in the community poke fun at Willie, not only due to his handicap but also because they are jealous that he lives a comfortable life while they bust their humps in the fields.

One day, Maya notices Willie waiting on customers in the store, and hiding his handicap and she understands that he must do this, so they treat him as an equal; and he must be sick of all the pity he gets for his condition. Maya feels closer to Willie for being able to understand him more than others can. While Maya is living with Momma and Willie, she develops a love for reading.

Maya’s favorite author to read is William Shakespeare, though she feels guilty for reading him because he is white.

Mr. Steward, a white man who used to serve as Sheriff, comes around one day and tells Momma that they are looking for a black man who supposedly messed around with a white woman.

The white men have formed lynch mobs and are all over town looking for the man. Momma is fearful that the lynch mob may begin to look for a scapegoat when they are unable to find the man, so she tells Willie to hide in the potato and onion bins at the store on the chance they come for him.

Willie remains safe, and the mob never comes for him, but Maya knows he has suffered pain and fear just at the prospect as she could hear him moaning from his hiding place.

As a child, Maya was very unhappy with her appearance as she found herself grossly unattractive; she was quite large for her age, had very dark skin, and extremely kinky and unruly hair. On top of Maya’s own insecurities, she often heard others speaking of how ugly she is.

Bailey, on the other hand, was a very attractive young boy who was slight in size and handsome in appearance. Bailey would always stick up for Maya when others would say disrespectful things about her, and because of this Maya considered Bailey to be the single most important person in her life.

Momma raises Maya and Bailey to be very respectful of others, especially their elders, which causes Maya to be quite angry when other children do not show respect to Momma and Willie. Generally everyone does respect Momma and Willie, except the poor white children who often make fun of them and taunt them.

One day when some poor white children approached Momma’s store she sent Maya inside. Maya sat inside filled with rage as the kids made fun of Momma’s stance and mannerisms while Momma just stood there and hummed hymns to herself. When one of the girls did a handstand, and her dress flew up to reveal she wore no underwear Momma walked back into the store, seemingly content and accomplished.

Maya did not understand for some time that Momma just proved how much higher her level of class was than that of the poor white children.

Reverend Howard Thomas comes into town once every three months to check on the church as it is one of many that he presides over. When he comes to town, he stays with Momma overnight on Saturdays and gives the sermon on Sundays.

Maya and Bailey do not like the Reverend because he eats the best parts of their chicken dinner on Sunday nights and because he takes so long to pray on Sunday mornings that breakfast gets cold.

Maya does not speak to the Reverend because she is afraid of saying something mean though she does enjoy going to church as she loves to read the bible. She especially enjoys it when Sister Monroe is there because she knows it will be exciting, as Sister Monroe has been known to get so excited she needs to be removed from the church. She often sparks riots and bouts of violence, sometimes toward the Reverend, which Maya and Bailey find quite entertaining.

Momma is very respectful of all people, especially whites, because she does not feel that anyone deserves disrespect, though she does occasionally refer to white people as “them”. She is not respectful of white people because she is afraid of what they will do to her, but because she is realistic. One day Momma hid a black man in her store who was accused of assaulting a white woman though he was caught later that day after he had left the store.

The man told the judge that “Mrs. Henderson” had helped him, and so she was subpoenaed to court. When she arrived, the judge was amazed to find a black woman standing in front of him as black people are generally not referred to as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” The fact that Momma is treated with such respect is indicative of her place and importance in the community.

For Christmas one year, Maya and Bailey receive gifts from their parents, much to their surprise as they had not seen their parents since they had been abandoned and even considered their mother to be dead.

They ran outside and cried with outrage and confusion over their abandonment, struggling with feelings of guilt that it was their own fault. They have a hard time understanding how their mother can live a happy life without them, but knowing they are out there in the world somewhere. Despite the fact that Momma reprimands them for being ungrateful toward their mother, Maya destroys the china doll that her mother sent her as a gift.

Maya and Bailey’s father, Big Bailey, shows up at Momma’s house on day unexpectedly. Maya cannot believe the man standing before her is her father because he is very tall, owns a car, and speaks like the white men she has encountered.

Big Bailey tells the kids that he is going to bring them to St. Louis to stay with their mother and Momma lets them go, telling them to behave, but obviously sad at the prospect of losing them. Maya sees Big Bailey as a stranger, though Bailey seems to get along with him just fine; when Maya meets her mother, Vivian, she sees her as a stranger as well, albeit an extremely beautiful one.

Bailey seems to fall in love with Vivian right away which Maya attributes to the fact that they are both extremely attractive and have matching personalities. Big Bailey leaves after a few days to go back to California though Maya is not sad because she simply sees the situation as one stranger leaving her with another one.

When Maya and Bailey arrive in St. Louis it is during the time of prohibition, and it is a very different place than Stamps. Vivian is very popular, and works at a gambling joint and her mother, Grandmother Baxter, entertains the men who run the illegal businesses.

Vivian’s brothers are part of the mob scene in St. Louis and they, along with Grandmother Baxter, seem to have an incredible amount of power in the city. Maya’s uncles are violent towards black and white people though they are kind to Maya and Bailey and like to tell them stories about when they were babies, including the story of how Maya, whose birth name is Marguerite, got her nickname.

Maya and Bailey live with Vivian’s parents for a few months before moving in with Vivian and her boyfriend, Mr. Freeman, who is fat, older man that is insecure in his relationship with the beautiful Vivian. Maya is not fazed by all of the moving around as she no longer feels comfortable anywhere, so it is all the same to her.

To take herself out of the real world Maya immerses herself in books, especially fairy-tales. She is confused by the world she is living in and begins to feel bad for Mr. Freeman because he spends all of his time waiting around for Vivian to come home from her night job at the gambling joint.

One day, Mr. Freeman molests Maya by holding her close to him while he masturbates and later telling her that she will kill Bailey if she tells anyone. Maya has no idea where this threat comes from because she does not understand that what happened is wrong, she actually enjoyed having someone hold her for once.

Mr. Freeman ignores Maya for a few weeks after the incident, and she feels rejected, though the cycle repeats itself again soon. Maya spends less time with Bailey as he has made friends that he likes to play baseball with and since Maya has no friends she spends her time reading books at the library.

One night when Vivian does not return home Mr. Freeman sends Maya out to the store, and, upon her return, he rapes her. He tells Maya that should she scream of tell anyone what he has done then he will kill her and Bailey.

Mr. Freeman sends Maya to the library when he is done, but she comes home soon after because there is an excruciating pain between her legs. When she gets home, she hides her bloody underwear under her mattress, so no one will find them and gets into bed. She hears her mother and Mr. Freeman arguing that night and the next morning Vivian tells Maya that Mr. Freeman has moved out. When Bailey comes into Maya’s room to change her sheets he finds the bloody underwear that she had hidden under her mattress.

Vivian immediately takes Maya to the hospital and Bailey asks her who raped her, assuring her that no one is going to kill him. Upon mentioning Mr. Freeman’s name, he is picked up by police immediately.

An attorney comes to question Maya and asks her if Mr. Freeman had ever touched her inappropriately before, and she feels that in order to keep the respect of her family she must lie and tells the attorney that the rape was the first incident. Mr. Freeman is sentenced to one year in prison, though he is released later that night before he is to begin his sentence.

A policeman comes to the house to see Grandmother Baxter that night, and tells her that Mr. Freeman has been beaten to death, and they speak no more of the matter. Maya feels incredibly guilty over Mr. Freeman’s death feeling that he was killed because she did not admit that he had been inappropriate toward her before the rape. She feels that the only way she can protect others from herself is by speaking to only Bailey.

At first her family thinks that her distance is because of the rape, but, after a while, they start to think she is being disrespectful and get angry and violent toward her.

Maya and Bailey return to Stamps to live with Momma. Maya is not sure whether Momma asked for her and Bailey to return or whether Vivian and the rest of her family in St. Louis just did not want to deal with her anymore.

Maya is very happy to be returning to Stamps, but Bailey is not as he liked being near Vivian. When people in the town ask about St. Louis, Bailey describes the “big city” to them with sarcastic wonderment, which no one picks up on other than Maya. Bailey is mean to everyone, with the exception of Maya, as he understands why she remains silent; likewise, Maya understands why Bailey is so frustrated with life.

Maya meets a woman in stamps named Mrs. Bertha Flowers, whom she sees as a character straight out of literature. Mrs. Flowers is on a mission to get Maya speaking again and decides to do it through literature. Mrs. Flowers reads aloud to Maya and Maya is very impressed by her oratory skills.

Mrs. Flowers gives Maya a poem to practice reading aloud, asking her to read it the next time she visits. When Maya returns to the store later that day, she is excited about the time she spent with Mrs. Flowers and finally speaks, telling Bailey that she has brought some cookies that Mrs. Flowers baked for them.

Momma hears Maya use the phrase “by the way” and beats her for it, though Maya does not know why. Momma explains that the phrase refers to Jesus and Maya will not reference Jesus in such a way. Maya tries to explain that it is just an expression but Momma will not listen.

When Maya is ten years old, Momma makes her get a job working for a white family to learn some manners. The family she works for is the Cullinan family and their cook is an older black woman named Glory. Mrs. Cullinan’s rich friends watch Maya work and suggest that Mrs. Cullinan call her “Mary” because “Margaret” is too long of a name, though her name is not “Margaret” but “Marguerite.”

Maya does not appreciate the way that she is treated, especially when Mrs. Cullinan actually begins to call her Mary, but she knows she cannot quit because Momma would not allow it. Maya knows the only way out is to be fired, and Bailey tells her to break some of Mrs. Cullinan’s china and she will surely fire her.

Maya takes Bailey’s advice, and Mrs. Cullinan is furious. She bursts into sobs, and when her friends ask if “Mary” is responsible Mrs. Cullinan throws a piece of the broken china in Maya’s direction and yells, “Her name is Margaret!”

One night Bailey does not return home though it is well after dark. Momma and Willie say nothing in front of Maya but Momma takes Maya with her to find Bailey. Bailey seems morose when they find him and accepts his reprimand and punishment without a word. He tells Maya that he watched a movie with a white actress named Kay Francis in it and she reminded him of Vivian, which Maya finds funny, and he stayed to watch it a second time. When another Kay Francis movie comes out Maya goes to see it with Bailey, and though she enjoys the movie tremendously, it makes Bailey sad.

On the way home, Bailey jumps onto the train tracks, narrowly missing an oncoming train and Maya worries that one day Bailey will jump on a train and be gone forever. One day Bailey really does jump on a train though he only makes it to Baton Rouge and strands himself there for a couple weeks.

Every year in Stamps there is a revival meeting where people of all the different churches come together for a sermon. This year the reverend preaches about the injustice of false charity. He does not say it outright, but Maya knows he means the charity that comes from the white people who expect the black recipients to feel belittled and grateful for them after.

The preacher asks people who are unidentified as far as religion to come forward and join any church they would like. Later that night as the people are passing the honky-tonk they seem sad and ashamed at the presence of sin that lives in the black community though Maya understands that the people at the honky-tonk and the people who attended the revival are all trying to escape from the harsh realities of life.

The people of Stamps, along with the rest of the black community, consider the boxer Joe Louis an icon. One afternoon all the people of Stamps gather in the store to listen to a fight on the radio in which Joe is fighting a white man. For the black community, Joe’s win is important as if he loses it justifies the poor treatment of black people, such as lynching, rape, and violence at the hands of the white population.

Louis succeeds in winning his fight and everyone at the store celebrates joyously. Maya feels as though Joe Louis has proven that black people are the most powerful in the world.

Every summer in Stamps there is a fish fry, where men catch the fish and women show off their baking and cooking skills. Maya goes off and sits by a tree to stare at the sky where she meets another girl her age named Louise Kendricks. Maya and Louise become good friends quickly and spend a lot of time together. When Valentine’s Day comes around, Maya gets a letter from a boy named Tommy Valden, a year older than her and in the eighth grade, asking her to be his Valentine.

Louise explains to Maya that a Valentine means love and Maya tells her she is not going through that again, though she does not elaborate. The girls rip up the note together, though the next day Maya gets another note from Tommy telling her that he saw her rip up his note but considers her his Valentine anyway. Just when Maya decides to open up to Tommy his crush on her is fading.

As Bailey becomes interested in girls, he sets up a tent in their backyard to mess around with girls in. He plays a game where he and the girl are the father and mother and Maya is their child who sits watch outside the tent.

It is not long before Bailey loses his virginity to an older girl named Joyce who encourages him to steal things for her from the store. Soon Joyce disappears, and her aunt informs Momma that she ran away with a porter from the railroad whom she met in the store.

Momma cannot believe what happened right in front of her face, and she never realized. Bailey is very sad that Joyce had left and so is Maya as Bailey was nice to people and not so sarcastic when she was around, though Maya hates Joyce for hurting him.

One night a man named George Taylor comes into the store, distraught over having just lost his wife, Florida, after forty years together. Mr. Taylor tells Momma that his wife came to him the night before and told him that she wanted children. Maya is horrified because she does not like ghost stories. She remembers attending Florida’s funeral and realizing the reality of death and fleeting life.

Mr. Taylor is insistent that his wife’s voice moaned to him that she wants children and Momma tells him that perhaps Florida was trying to tell him that she wants him to help children through the church. Maya is relieved at the end of the ghost stories and takes comfort in the fact that Momma seems to be able to ward away ghostly spirits.

It is the day of Maya’s eighth grade graduation, an occasion that is annually a very exciting time for the black community though Maya feels nervous. A white man named Mr. Edward Donleavy speaks to the crowd about the improvements given to the local schools that years, mainly contributions to the science lab at the white school, and he brags about the athletes who have graduating from Maya’s school.

Maya feels the man is basically saying that black people are only good for sports, and the entire class looks embarrassed and ashamed. When Henry Reed, the valedictorian, speaks Maya feels ashamed still and skeptical about his optimism for the future, but when he leads the class in singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”, the black national anthem, she feels a revived hope and pride for her people.

The nearest dentist that treats black people is twenty-five miles away so when Maya has a terrible toothache Momma decides to bring her to the dentist in town, Dr. Lincoln. Dr. Lincoln had taken a loan from Momma once that had saved him from some trouble, so Momma felt that he owed her. When they arrived at the office, Dr. Lincoln told Momma that he does not treat black patients, and would rather stick his hand in a dog’s mouth than in Maya’s. He tells Momma that he repaid her loan and owes her nothing more.

Momma demands that Dr. Lincoln pay her interest for the money he borrowed, despite the fact that they had never made an interest agreement before. Momma and Maya leave for Texarkana to see the black dentist. When they return home Momma tells Willie she feels bad for demanding interest from Dr. Lincoln, but he deserves it.

Bailey comes home one day completely shaken, wondering aloud what makes white people hate black people so much. He had just encountered a white man pulling a black man’s rotting body out of the water. The white man stared, laughing at the body and told Bailey to help him load the body into his wagon.

The white man told Bailey that if he did not help that he would lock him and all the other black men in the wagon with the rotting body, an idea which he seemed to find extremely entertaining. Shortly after this incident Momma began saving money to bring Maya and Bailey to California to live with Vivian.

While Vivian figures out where she and the children are going to live, Momma stays in Los Angeles with Maya and Bailey. Maya and Bailey begin to really enjoy being around Vivian and start to see her as a fun and spontaneous person who experiences insecurities and fear just like everyone else.

Vivian is trained as a nurse, but she makes money by hosting poker games and gambling tournaments. She is very honest and shows a great amount of power and respect for others, as well as demands respect in return. World War II begins for the U.S., and Vivian gets married to a businessman named Daddy Clidell, who is a solid father figure for the kids and moves the family to San Francisco.

When the War starts Maya sees many differences in her surroundings. There are many black migrant workers and illiterate white men taking over the jobs of the Japanese, who have been displaced into internment camps, though no one ever speaks of such things.

In an ever-changing environment, Maya finally feels at home for the first time. While there is still obvious racism in this big city, Maya feels that people are much freer than in Stamps or even St. Louis. She notes that, despite the racism, black people are not overly polite and respectful of white people without merit.

When she enters school she is skipped a grade and soon moved to a white school because she is so smart. In the white school, she is one of three black students, and, while the white students are haughty toward her, the only teacher she remembers, Miss Kirwin, treats her as equal to everyone else.

The white students look at Maya as though they are better than her because they are white and better educated than she. At the age of fourteen, Maya receives a scholarship to attend a school where she can study dance and theater called California Labor School.

Maya has a lot of respect for Daddy Clidell and considers him a father-figure to her as she has never had one before. She likes his ability to be tender and assertive at the same time and the fact that he does not seem arrogant despite the success his has achieved with his pool halls and apartment buildings.

Daddy Clidell has many friends who are con-men, and Maya is interested in the stories they tell, such as one where they conned a white man who was racist into buying a property that did not even exist for $40,000. Maya feels that while this activity may seem unethical to some, ethics are different for all people. As black people have been discriminated against, their ethics are out of necessity and thus different.

One summer Maya visits Big Bailey and his girlfriend, Dolores, whom she has been exchanging letters with. Maya and Dolores dislike one another from the start, and Dolores is very jealous of the attention that Big Bailey gives to Maya.

Big Bailey plans many trips to Mexico, supposedly for groceries, and asks Maya to accompany him on one such trip. She enjoys herself in Mexico because she sees Big Bailey’s true personality for the first time and has fun mingling with the local people and using the little Spanish she has learned in school.

One night, when Maya cannot find Big Bailey, he appears, staggering drunk and passes out in the car. Maya, though she has never driven before, drives the car to the border where she gets into a small accident. Big Bailey awakens, takes the wheel, and is not angry at all about the accident though he also does not acknowledge the feat she has just accomplished which upsets her.

When they return from Mexico, Maya hears Big Bailey and Dolores fighting, as Dolores feels that Maya is ruining their relationship. After Big Bailey leaves, Maya tells Dolores that she never meant to come between them and feels happy with herself for doing such a good deed. Dolores responds by calling Vivian a whore and stabbing Maya with scissors.

Maya runs out and hides in her father’s car until he returns and takes her to a friend’s house to bandage her cut. Big Bailey takes Maya to another friend’s house for the night, returning the next day to give her money and promising to come back for her later.  Maya takes the money and flees, knowing she does not want to face Big Bailey’s friends nor can she return to Vivian with the cut on her arm. She fears causing a rift between her mother and father because she remembers all too clearly the guilt she feels over the death of Mr. Freeman.

Maya finds herself with nowhere to go and spends the night in an abandoned car at a junk yard. When she wakes the next day she finds herself surrounded by a diverse group of laughing, homeless, teenagers.

They tell her she can stay if she follows the rules: no sleeping with anyone of the opposite sex, no stealing, and she must work to contribute her funds to the community. Maya stays with the group for one month, enjoying their sense of community and the dance contests they have on weekends. After one month, Maya asks Vivian to buy her a plane ticket to return home. Though the homeless teenagers are upset that she is leaving them, they wish the best for her.

Maya feels as though she has changed greatly over the summer though when she returns home she realizes she is not the only one who has changed. Bailey shows little interest in Maya’s tales and reveals that he and Vivian are no longer getting along. To attract Vivian’s attention Bailey begins to dress in fancy clothing like the men Vivian hangs around with and, also like them, he dates a white prostitute.

Vivian is furious, not realizing her influence in his behavior and tells him to clean up his act. Bailey decides to move out on his own despite the fact that he and Vivian have reconciled. Maya is very upset that Bailey is moving out, but he assures her that he will be fine on his own; it is simply time for him to move on.

Maya has a desire to work and decides that she would like to take a semester off of school and get a job. She is determined to become the first black person to ever work on a streetcar in San Francisco and after months of being persistent, she succeeds. When Maya finally decides to return to school, she feels more separated from her classmates than ever before because of all she experienced while she was away. She muses that, in America, black women face more than the average adolescent problems because they also have to deal with racism and sexism.

Maya believes that the reason black women have such strong personalities, characters, and beliefs is because of all the adversity they face.

Maya reads “The Well of Loneliness” by Radclyff Hall and it introduces her to lesbianism. She does not completely understand the concept, but she wonders if she is a lesbian because she feels different from the other girls. Her hips and breasts have yet to develop, and she has no hair under her arms, but Vivian tells her this is normal for someone her age.

Maya decides she must find a boyfriend to discover if she is a lesbian but finds that the boys at school are not interested in her because she has dark skin and kinky hair. Maya decides to ask one of her neighbors to have sex with her, but the result does not leave relieve Maya’s confusion. A few weeks later, Maya learns that she is pregnant.

Maya knows she is responsible for her pregnancy and places the blame on no one else though she is not sure what to do about it. She writes Bailey to ask his opinion, and he tells her to keep the pregnancy to herself until she is done with school because Vivian will not allow an abortion and will make her drop out of school.

Maya manages to keep her pregnancy secret until she is done with school and eight months along. When she tells Vivian and Daddy Clidell they accept the news and do not have anything negative to say to her about the situation, despite the fact that she is sure they do not approve. When Maya gives birth to her son, she feels awkward around him and is scared to touch him.

Vivian makes Maya sleep next to the baby when he is three weeks old, and Maya tries to stay awake all night, so she does not crush him, though she is unsuccessful. Later that night Vivian wakes Maya to show her that the baby has curled himself up the crook of her arm. She tells Maya that as long as her heart is in the right place she will never do wrong by him. Maya happily falls back asleep next to her son.

The Chaplain is arrested for various crimes, which are unspecified at the time, much to his shock. He is accused of forgery, of being Washington Irving, and of stealing plum tomatoes. A document that Yossarian forged the Chaplain’s name on some time ago is the only evidence that they have against him, and they sound ridiculous trying to justify their accusations.

The Chaplain is set free until they figure out how to punish him and he goes right to Colonel Korn to complain about the number of missions the men have to complete. Korn informs the Chaplain that all of the higher-ups agree with the idea of increasing the quota to whatever they want, and anyone who disagrees, such as Dr. Stubbs have been sent away.

Peckem moves into his new office which is Dreedle’s old office and learns that Scheisskopf has been promoted to general, making him Peckem’s new commanding officer which makes Peckem extremely aggravated. Peckem refuses to take any phone calls from Scheisskopf and cannot believe that such a dimwit could be in charge.

Apparently the leader of special services was being promoted to general, which would have been Peckem had he not already been promoted and instead went to his successor, Scheisskopf. Peckem is now stuck following Scheisskopf’s orders, as absurd as they may be, and he wants everyone to march.

Yossarian refuses to participate in any more missions and out of pity for the loss of Nately Cathcart and Korn decide to send him to Rome on leave. When in Rome Yossarian tells Nately’s whore about his death and she attacks him with a knife, as does her little sister, convinced that Yossarian is to blame for his death. She follows him everywhere he goes, including back to base, determined to seek revenge for Nately’s death, though it was not Yossarian’s fault.

The officers ask Yossarian to fly in nondangerous missions, but he refuses, knowing that someone else will be asked to fly in the more dangerous ones in his stead. He finds out that Nately’s whore, her sister, and the other ladies living in their building were flushed out by M.P.’s, and he is worried about them.

Yossarian and Milo head to Rome which is in a state of shambles and ruins beyond what he imagined. He learns from the old woman who lived in the whores’ apartment building that they were presented with a Catch-22, that the soldiers could do anything that the people could not stop them from doing, and the other Catch-22 was that they did not have to present the people with a written Catch-22.

Yossarian knows that Catch-22 does not exist, but it sticks around because people believe in it. Yossarian looks for Nately’s whore, and Milo gets distracted by a business opportunity. As he wanders he sees rapes, beatings, and corpses everywhere he looks, he even encounters Aarfy beating and raping a maid. M.P.’s burst in and apologize to Aarfy for interrupting him but arrest Yossarian who is doing nothing wrong for being in Rome without a pass.

Colonel Cathcart and Colonel Korn tell Yossarian that they want to send him home but because of Catch-22 they cannot. They decide that they would like to promote him to major so his only job would be to watch over them, but, in return, he would have to like them and approve of what they are doing.  Yossarian does not want to betray his fellow soldiers, knowing that they will still have to fly an unspecified number of missions, but he thinks it is his only way out so he accepts. As he is leaving the office, he is stabbed by Nately’s whore who is dressed in disguise.

Yossarian is operated on in the hospital and when he awakens he see the Chaplain and Aarfy. He promises the Chaplain that he will not take Cathcart and Korn’s deal, though he had previously agreed to it. He realizes that his only friend who is still alive is Hungry Joe but the Chaplain tells him that Joe died in his sleep, apparently smothered by a cat.

Yossarian drifts in and out of dreams and remembers the day that Snowden died, telling Yossarian “I’m cold.” In an attempt to help Snowden, Yossarian opened his suit, but his entrails all spilled out and, in the entrails, Yossarian read, “The spirit gone, man is garbage”.

Yossarian tries to explain to General Danby about the offer Cathcart, and Korn gave him and why he cannot take it, as he must honor his friends who have died needlessly in war. He believes that he has no hope when the Chaplain tells him that Orr has washed up in Sweden, alive, and Yossarian knows that he does stand a chance. He gathers his clothes and leaves the hospital, headed toward Sweden to leave the war forever. As he is leaving Nately’s whore tries to stab him one more time, but he escapes her and runs off as fast as he can toward Sweden.

Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.

The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control   the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.

Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.

Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.

Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.

Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.

Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.

Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.

Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.

Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.

Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.

Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.

Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.