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Thornton Wilder was born in Wisconsin in 1897. He received his higher education from Oberlin College in Ohio and subsequently Yale University, after which he spent one year in Rome. Upon returning from Rome, Wilder began teaching French at a prep school in New Jersey. He was first published in 1926 with the novel “The Cabala” but did not achieve literary fame until the following year when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”. He soon quit his teaching job and put all of his efforts into his writing, quickly becoming one of the most well-known writers of his generation.During the 1930’s, he was panned by critics for publishing frivolous work that did not address the grim realities of the Depression. He soon turned to writing plays, where his light-hearted work could be appreciated.

In 1938 Wilder’s most famous play, “Our Town”, debuted on Broadway and earned him another Pulitzer Prize. “Our Town” is set in the fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, a town that experiences the same hypocrisy and social injustice as real-life cities but with a brotherly camaraderie that most real-life places do not possess, especially in the face of the Depression; “Our Town” served as a bit of a slap in the face to the critics who had panned his literary style. Rather than concentrate on politics, as many writers of the time had been doing, “Our Town” is a celebration of humanity and everyday experiences; it encourages people to find joy in the details of life in a time when the world seemed to be crumbling.

The play in narrated by the stage manager who introduces the audience to Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire and the families of the Gibbs’ and Webb’s. The set is quite sparse except for a few chairs and tables to signify each family’s home, and continues to be sparse for the remainder of the play, even props are often forgotten. The audience is introduced to a typical day in Grover’s Corners; Howie Newsome delivers the milk, Joe Cowell Jr. delivers the papers, and Dr. Gibbs delivers babies. Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb send their children to school and meet in their yards to gossip.

George Webb and Emily Gibbs meet outside Emily’s house after school lets out and it is obvious they have a romantic connection. In the second act, George and Emily are preparing for their wedding, having realized one year earlier their mutual affection for one another. In the third act, it is nine years past the day of the wedding and Emily is being prepared for burial, as she has died in childbirth. The characters in this act are mainly the souls of the people buried in the cemetery, including Emily, who take center stage.

The dead people observe and comment on the funeral, urging Emily not to revisit her earlier life as she wishes to do, but she does not listen. Emily flashes back to her life as a twelve-year-old, and, when she returns to the present, she understands a nostalgia that the living cannot possibly comprehend; she understands her difference from them. The play ends as the stars appear in the sky.

The Stage Manager

The stage manager serves as the narrator and also plays the part of a couple different random characters, such as Mr. Morgan who owns the drugstore and the minister at George and Emily’s wedding.

The stage manager has control over the flow of the play and feels free to interrupt whenever he deems it necessary, usually to educate the audience. He tells the audience about props that are not there, introduces other characters to give history lessons about the town, and fills the audience in on events that may have happened between acts. He assumes a godlike role over the play as he has, seemingly, total control over the progression.

George Gibbs

George is the son of Mrs. and Doc Gibbs. At the start, of the play he is a high school student who is flirtatious with Emily, the girl next door, and interested mainly in baseball. George ends up foregoing college to stay in Grover’s Corners to marry Emily, though he is nervous at the thought of growing up so quickly.

In the last act, we learn that George and Emily had been married nine years and had a farm and two children, though Emily sadly died while birthing the second child. George is beside himself with grief at Emily’s funeral.

Emily Webb (Gibbs)

Emily is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. At the start, of the play she is a high school student who spends a lot of time pondering the wonders of the world and the meaning of life.She is outspoken and a bit of a dreamer.

Emily is very smart and her agreement to help George with his homework is only the start of a relationship that will result in their marriage in act two. Emily becomes one of a group of dead souls in the third act who watch over the cemetery scene and feel sorry for the living who do not appreciate the gift of life.

Doc Gibbs

Doc Gibbs is the father of George and Rebecca and the husband of Mrs. Gibbs. He is the doctor of Grover’s Corners who delivers babies on the morning the play first opens. Mrs. Gibbs shares that Doc is a Civil War buff and would like nothing more than to tour the various battlefields of the war.

Doc Gibbs worries that if he brings his wife to Paris, as she wishes, that he will no longer appreciate or even care for, his life in Grover’s Corners. After Doc passes away, in 1930, the hospital in town is named for him, due to all of his hard work.

Mrs. Gibbs

Mrs. Gibbs is the mother to George and Rebecca and the wife of Doc Gibbs. She spends her days cooking meals for her children and husband and also keeping up on household chores, including those that belong to George as he no longer seems to have time for them.

Mrs. Gibbs wishes to visit Paris but knows that her husband will not take her because he fears leaving Grover’s Corners and not appreciating his life there when he returns. By the third act, Mrs. Gibbs has died of pneumonia and had never visited Paris, as had been her lifelong dream.

Mr. Webb

Mr. Webb is married to Mrs. Webb and father to Emily and Wally. He and his family live next door to the Gibbs’. Mrs. Webb is the editor of “Sentinel”, the paper of Grover’s Corners. The stage manager calls Mr. Webb to the forefront when he needs an expert on the history and political nature of life in Grover’s Corners and allows the “audience” to ask him questions.

Mr. Webb is a very kind man with a good heart and sense of humor, which is shown on the day of the wedding when he manages to calm George down and make him feel comfortable, rather than intimidated.

Mrs. Webb

Mrs. Webb is the wife of Mrs. Webb and mother to Emily and Wally. Mrs. Webb seems to be a very serious woman who cares for her children and husband deeply. She has stated that she prefers for her children to be healthy, rather than smart, which is ironic because Emily happens to be extremely smart though dies at a young age. When Emily revisits her twelfth birthday and tries to appeal to her mother, fruitlessly, it is a moving moment for the audience to see the tenderness and caring relationship between mother and daughter, though Mrs. Webb cannot hear Emily because she is dead.

Simon Stimson

Simon is the drunk of Grover’s Corners and also the director of the choir that many of the townspeople belong to. Simon sticks out like a sore thumb in the small town because he is the only flaw in a place that seems otherwise perfect. Despite Simon’s problems, no one really tries to communicate with him or help him, other than an attempt at conversation by Mr. Webb.

Simon is very mysterious because the audience never learns why Simon is so troubled, he is merely an example of the harsher side of small-town life. Simon is one of the dead souls in the grave yard as he hung himself sometime between acts two and three.

Mrs. Soames

Mrs. Soames is one of the more gossipy women in town and she is a member of the choir.  She often gossips about the drunken state of Simon Stimson with the other ladies in town. Mrs. Soames is a vocal part of George and Emily’s wedding as she talks loudly throughout the ceremony about what a lovely wedding it is.

In the third act, Mrs. Soames is one of the dead souls in the graveyard who introduces Emily to the afterlife, and helps her realize the importance of seizing life while it is happening, something that the living just do not seem to understand.

Life

The main theme of “Our Town” is to live life to its fullest because you never know when it will be taken from you. Emily does not learn until she is dead the importance of truly appreciating and making use of every single second of life.

There is a sharp emphasis on how quickly life passes us by, as the play quickly jumps from George and Emily’s wedding day to her death, nine years later, as though no time has passed between the two occasions at all. The monotony of everyday life for the people of Grover’s Corners is illustrated by the reliability of a daily routine that never seems to change.

Marriage

Marriage is seen as the ultimate step for a person to take in Grover’s Corners; it signifies a step into adulthood and something that should be welcomed. Both George and Emily are scared to get married because they are scared to grow up, alluding that the two ideas go hand in hand.

The Webb’s and the Gibbs’ are both happily married couples who encourage their children to marry one another and are happy at the idea of the union, offering sound advice to both George and Emily when they seem to have the jitters. The parents show that it is natural to be scared but worth the worry in the end.

Relationships

All relationships are important in the confines of this play, even if they are not romantic relationships though those are obviously important, as well. In Grover’s Corners, no one is ever alone; Howie Newsome, Joe, and the Constable chat with one another every morning, Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb are always communicating between their gardens, and the children are always walking to school in pairs.

Each family has only two children, a perfect couple; the Gibbs’, the Webbs, and even George and Emily. The stage manager even makes sure to develop a relationship and a repertoire with the audience, engaging them in his words and the activities happening on stage.

The Vision of America

The town of Grover’s Corners offers a very specific view of what small-town America is like. Families are happy, parents stay married, the townspeople all know and like one another, the children are all friends, there is a soda shop that the teenagers go to on dates, milk is delivered fresh every single morning, and the mothers are housewives while the fathers support the family financially, including doling out allowances. In Grover’s Corners there is no drinking, except for the few socially inacceptable people in town, like Simon, and no one ever has sex before they are married.

The Power of Choices

Within the play, there are two major choices that are made that will affect the lives of the characters. The first choice comes when George decides he will forego college to stay in Grover’s Corners to be with Emily. Had George made the opposite decision perhaps Emily would not have died so young, but also perhaps he and Emily would never experience love as they had.

The second choice is Emily’s to return to a point in her life when she was the happiest. When Emily returns home she realizes that none of the living truly embrace life and simply let it fly by, which both saddens and angers her. She realizes the importance of death and the eternal journey she will now embark on.

The stage manager appears and sets up the very few props that will be on stage and introduces the audience to Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire the morning of May 7, 1901. He tells about the actors, the writer, and points out some landmarks in town; the audience members must use their imaginations to see the places the stage manager describes because the props and sets are quite minimal throughout the play. He brings the audience’s attention to the home of Dr. Gibbs, or “Doc Gibbs” as he is known.

Doc Gibbs lives next door to Editor Webb, who is the editor of the local paper, “Sentinel”. Both Doc Gibbs and Editor Webb live with their wives. The stage manager comments that this must all be very boring to the audience, and that is because Grover’s Corners is a very boring town and nothing exciting ever happens there. The people who live in Grover’s Corners have always lived there, as have their families before them because no one ever bothers to leave.

When the train whistles at 5:45 the stage manager points out that it is signaling the train’s departure for Boston; he also points out Doc Gibbs walking down the street. Mrs. Gibbs appears in her kitchen cooking breakfast, and the stage manager interrupts to tell the audience how Mrs. And Doc Gibbs will die, showing his omniscience, which he does periodically throughout the play.

Doc Gibbs receives his newspaper from Joe Crowell Jr., the paperboy, while he is walking down the road. Joe tells Doc Gibbs that his schoolteacher is to be married, and the stage manager interrupts again to tell the audience about Joe’s life; he will graduate from high school, go on to be at the top of his class at MIT, and die while fighting in France during WWII. After Joe delivers the paper Howie Newsome comes by with the milk delivery, leading his horse Bessie, though the audience must imagine the horse.

As Doc Gibbs gets home his wife tells him that he needs to relax a little because he does not give himself enough rest, and he is due to see another patient very soon. She also asks that Doc Gibbs talk to their son, George, about doing his chores because his mind has been on nothing but baseball as of late.  Speaking of George, Mrs. Gibbs calls him and his sister Rebecca down for breakfast and tells them to hurry before they are late for school. Next door to the Gibbs’ home Mrs. Webb can be heard calling her children, Emily and Wally, down to breakfast, as well. As the kids all sit down to breakfast, a whistle blows in the distance and the stage manager explains that it comes from a blanket factory owned by the Cartwright family who is well-off because of it.

After the children head to school Mrs. Gibbs, and Mrs. Webb begin on their own chores; feeding the chickens and stringing beans. The women begin to chat with one another about furniture that Mrs. Gibbs may sell, and her desire to visit Paris though Doc does not want to go because he is worried that after visiting Paris he may not think much of Grover’s Corners. Doc Gibbs would prefer to visit Civil War battle sites as he is quite the Civil War buff; Mrs. Webb states that her husband admires Doc Gibbs for his knowledge and expertise. The stage manager then calls in Professor Willard to share with the audience some historical information about Grover’s Corners. Professor Willard gives some geological information about the town and says that it is comprised of nearly all white residents with blue eyes, and they are overwhelmingly Protestant and Republican. The population in town rarely changes because the birth rate and death rate are pretty much the same.

The stage manager then asks Mrs. Webb if the Editor is available to speak to the audience. When he arrives, hand bandaged because he has cut himself slicing an apple, and reports about the political and social information about Grover’s Corners, maintaining that the town is ordinary, but people seem to like it.

The stage manager asks the audience if they have any questions for Mr. Webb, though the audience members who ask questions are members of the cast who have seated themselves with the audience. Through the questions, the audience learns that drinking is a not a big activity in Grover’s Corners and there is not much art and culture though the residents do find beauty in everyday things, like sunrises. Also, while they do care about politics and discuss them from time to time they feel as though there is little they can do outside of the people they actually know, so they spend their time making sure the people of their town are comfortable and happy.

As the children return from school Emily, pretends she is a high-society lady and George tosses a baseball in the air though he stops to compliment Emily on the speech she gave in class. George also asks if Emily could sometimes give him hints about homework, though not the actual answers; if she agrees they could set up a telegraph system between their bedroom windows. George wishes to be a farmer and believes he may inherit his uncle’s farm. When Mrs. Webb comes outside, George says hello to her but then he leaves to go to the baseball field and Emily goes to help her mother string beans.Emily asks her mother if she is pretty, to which Mrs. Webb rolls her eyes and confirms. The stage manager steps in to tell the audience about a time capsule which is being created and will hold newspapers, a bible, some Shakespeare, and hopefully a copy of the play that is being performed, “Our Town”, so people in the future will know what life in a small town was like.

Back in Grover’s Corners, it is evening time and the children of the Gibbs and Webb families are working on their homework. There have been ladders set up to represent the second story of each family’s home. A crazy drunk man named Simon Stimson acts as conductor of the orchestra and choir, which breaks into a rendition of “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds”. George speaks to Emily through their windows and asks if she will help him with their homework, though all Emily does is comment on the poor state of the moonlight that night. George is called downstairs by his father who speaks to him about doing his chores, making him feel guilty that Mrs. Gibbs has been doing them all herself. Mrs. Gibbs has walked down to the choir to gossip about the drunken state of Simon Stimson though when she returns home Doc tells her that nothing can be done about it.

Mr. Webb also discusses the state of Simon Stimson, though with Constable Warren. Simon walked by the men, and the constable tried to strike up a conversation with him though his attempt was not altogether successful. When Mr. Webb returns home, he finds Emily gazing at the heliotropes and wonders if she is troubled, though she tells him that she is not when he inquires.

Rebecca and George are also staring at the sky and speaking to one another. Rebecca is telling George about a letter her friend received once that was very specifically addressed, including the United States, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, and the Mind of God. The stage manager comes into to invite those who smoke to go ahead and do so as there will be an intermission.

The stage manager appears to tell the audience that it has been three years since we last visited Grover’s Corners. The date is July 7, 1904, and the local high school has just had their graduation. He tells the audience that many things can happen in three years and that nearly everyone gets married at some point; he also reveals to the audience that the first act was called “Daily Life” and this upcoming act is titled “Love and Marriage”.

As the act begins the Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb are preparing breakfast for their families, Howie Newsome is delivering the milk, and Si Crowell, Joe’s brother, is delivering newspapers. Howie and Si run into Constable Warren and discuss George’s upcoming marriage. Si seems particularly upset that George is quitting baseball because he is marrying, as Si believes that George is the best pitcher that has ever lived in Grover’s Corners.

As everyone goes about their business, Howie stops to speak with Mrs. Gibbs who is preparing her home for the wedding guests she plans to entertain later that day. He then goes on to speak to Mrs. Webb, and this is when the audience first learns that the girl George will be marrying that day is Emily Webb. When Doc Gibbs come downstairs to breakfast he and his wife remember what it was like on their wedding day and the jitters that they experienced.

When George comes downstairs, he plans to head straight to the Webb house to see Emily. Mrs. Gibbs tells him that it is raining out, so George puts on some overshoes before going outside. When George gets to the Webb house Mrs. Webb does not even want to let him inside; she tells him that it is bad luck for a bride and groom to see one another on their wedding day and besides, Emily is not even awake yet.

Mrs. Webb ends up inviting George in and asking him to stay for coffee with Mr. Webb, while she runs upstairs to be sure that Emily does not come down and see George by accident. Mr. Webb and George take the time to have some manly bonding over their coffee, and Mr. Webb does his best to calm George’s nervousness. The men discuss marriage together and the idea of what makes a good husband and a happy marriage.

Mr. Webb shares the advice his father one gave to him; to treat his wife as though she is his property and to never respect her needs. Mr. Webb did exactly the opposite of what his father told him and has had a very happy marriage. Mrs. Webb then comes downstairs and tells George that Emily asked that he leave so she can eat breakfast.

The stage manager jumps into the scene to bring the audience back the day when George realized that he wanted to marry Emily. It is the end of their junior year in high school, and both have been elected to class office; George as the president, and Emily as the secretary and treasurer. They are walking home from school and George is carrying Emily’s books; he cannot shake the feeling that something is wrong with her as she seems to be acting rather distant toward him as of late. Emily seems flustered and does not really want to address the issue, though she eventually tells him that she thinks he has become rather stuck-up and self-absorbed with his baseball, to the point that he will not even stop to make conversation with people anymore. Emily begins to cry because she fears that she has upset George though she knows that she did the right thing in telling him the truth of how she feels and how he is being perceived; she apologizes anyway.

George and Emily head to Morgan’s drugstore, where Morgan is portrayed by the stage manager and George orders two strawberry ice-cream sodas for himself and Emily. He asks Emily if she will write to him if he decides to go away to Agricultural College the next year, and she agrees that she will, though George decides he does not want to go away, he wants to stay with Emily. He tells her how he feels, and that it has been coming on for quite some time and Emily agrees that the feeling between them is mutual. When it comes time to pay Mr. Morgan George realizes that he does not have any money on him and asks Mr. Morgan if he can return with it later; Mr. Morgan tells George he will give him ten years.

The stage manager brings the audience back to the present where it is, yet again, the day of George and Emily’s wedding and he is acting as minister in the wedding. He watches as the stage crew sets up rows of pews and he warns the audience that things are about to get “pretty serious” in the play. He tells the audience how marriage is important in human history and there is a divine power that wills the existence of marriage.

Mrs. Webb cries as she takes her place at the ceremony and speaks to the audience about girls lacking any proper preparations for marriage; and George’s friends all come to tease him for which the stage manager shoos them offstage. George talks to his mother and tells her that he fears getting old, though he quickly toughens up. He promises to Mrs. Gibbs that he and Emily will come over for dinner once every week. Emily has a freak out, much like George’s, and insists that she is not ready to grow up either, though Mr. Webb calms her down and leads her and George to the alter telling them that he is content to give Emily to George. Throughout the ceremony Mrs. Soames, one of the choir members, talks a lot and drowns out the minister, commenting on how lovely the wedding is. As George and Emily kiss, everyone freezes briefly while the minister muses over how many weddings he has performed and only one in a thousand ceremonies is actually interesting. The characters unfreeze, and George and Emily run down the aisle together to the “Wedding March” as man and wife. The stage manager calls for another ten-minute intermission.

The third act opens in what the stage manager proclaims to be the town cemetery; which is represented on stage by three rows of chairs acting as rows of tombstones. Among the dead who take their place on the chairs representing their tombstones are Mrs. Gibbs, Wally Webb, Simon Stimson, and Mrs. Soames who have all died in the years leading up to this act. The stage manager announces to the audience that nine more years have passed since the wedding of George and Emily, and the time is now summer of 1913.

The stage manager speaks about the dead, stating that no longer have any interest in the living as they have other things to be interested in now their time amongst the living is over. He muses that everyone must know there is something lying inside them that will be around eternally and they wait around for that part to show itself. He muses that eternity is a tricky thing, but it does exist, as is shown in the fact that though Emily has died while giving birth to her second child, the child has lived.

Some of the living characters that have been hanging out in the background begin to emerge, one of them being Joe Stoddard, the town undertaker. Joe is standing over a grave that has been freshly dug and standing beside him is a man named Sam Craig. Sam is a cousin of Emily Webb who left Grover’s Corners twelve years prior to this date, he returned only for Emily’s funeral. Sam looks over the headstones and sees the names of Mrs. Gibbs and Simon who, as we learn from Joe, had hung himself in his attic. Sam inquires as to how Emily died, and Joe tells him that she died while birthing her second child.

The funeral party enters the room with Emily’s casket. Amongst those who are mourning her death are George, Doc Gibbs, and Mr. and Mrs. Webb. Mrs. Soames and Mrs. Gibbs speak to one another from their graves about the cause of Emily’s death, seemingly having no emotions about the incident whatsoever, though Mrs. Soames does reminisce about how beautiful George and Emily’s wedding was.

A choir sings “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds”, a song that was sung in the first act and also at the wedding. Emily leaves the funeral party and takes her place amongst the other dead. She strikes up a conversation with Mrs. Gibbs, her mother-in-law, about the improvements and changes that she and George had been making to their farm. Emily stops speaking suddenly, as though a light bulb has gone off in her head, and proclaims to Mrs. Gibbs that “live people don’t understand”. As Emily is now one of the dead and sitting amongst, them she realizes that she feels very distant from those who are still living, though she takes comfort in the small hope that she can return to the living at some point.

Despite the fact that Emily feels distant from the living, she still feels as though she is one of them. While the other dead advise her not to, because they think Emily needs to forget the life that she was once a part of, Emily decides she would like to go back to her life and relive one day that she was particularly fond of. The stage manager helps Emily to return to 1899 and the day of her twelfth birthday.

The day begins as any other day in Grover’s Corners began; Howie Newsome delivers the milk, Joe Crowel Jr. delivers the papers, and both of the guys stop to speak with Constable Warren in the street that morning. Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs are in their homes making breakfast for their families, and Mr. Webb returns from a trip he has been on for a few days, bringing with him a surprise for Emily’s birthday. Emily tries to talk to Mrs. Webb about her life and what happens to her in the future; her marriage to George, their home and farm, their children, and Wally’s death, but Mrs.

Webb cannot hear her. Mrs. Webb gives Emily her gifts, and suddenly Emily is overcome with emotion and needs to leave the scene of that day. She realizes that the living do not appreciate their time on Earth, and make the most of it and it saddens her. Emily asks the stage manager to bring her back to the cemetery that day in 1913. She also asks him if anyone appreciates their life while on Earth and he tells her that no one does, except maybe poets.

Emily again takes her place next to Mrs. Gibbs and the two women, along with the other deceased, watch the stars in the sky. Emily tells the other dead that she should have listened to them and stayed in her grave. Simon tells Emily angrily that she can now understand how self-centered and ignorant the living are, often wasting their time and hurting the feelings of others with little to no regard for those feelings. Mrs. Gibbs slightly disagrees with Simon and defends the living, insisting that Simon has not told Emily the whole story. One of the deceased men is still watching the stars and muses about how his son once told him that starlight takes millions of years to reach the Earth from its starting point.

George comes into the scene and throws himself onto Emily’s grave, beside himself with sadness and grief over her death. Many of the dead express their distaste over his actions and Emily, watching her husband so overcome with emotions, is in disbelief that “they just don’t understand”. The stage manager reappears and closes a black curtain over the scene. He tells the audience a few last things about Grover’s Corners as the town settles in for the night. He looks up at the stars and wonders aloud whether the Earth is the only place where living beings exist. He winds his watch and tells the audience to go home and get a good night’s rest, dismissing them.

Sal has sold his book and made some money off of it, and Dean is living with Inez and working at a parking garage in New York City.  Sal decides it is time to take another trip, though this time he is going to leave alone and leave Dean behind in the domestic life.

Dean pays Sal’s aunt the money he owes her from the speeding ticket she paid and she cooks them a big dinner.  She tells Dean that he should stay with Inez and settle down instead of running off with Sal again.  Dean tells Sal that they should become old bums together, and Sal says he hopes they can live down the street from each other one day, taking care of their families, which exactly what they had been trying to avoid for years now.

Sal hops on a bus that takes him south and meets a man named Henry Glass who has just gotten out of prison.  Sal turns Henry into his new travel companion, and they head to Denver together where Sal still has friends.  Once they arrive in Denver Henry’s brother starts him at a job to keep him on the straight and narrow.  They meet up with Tim Gray and Stan Shepard and start planning a trip to Mexico.

The boys visit the local jazz clubs as they plan their excursion and Sal hears that Dean is on his way to Denver to join them and to drive Sal to Mexico.  Sal has a vision of Dean as a “shrouded traveler” who travels all over the country leaving death and destruction everywhere he goes, which is kind of true.

Sal is not too happy that Dean is joining him because he wants Dean to take care of his children.  Dean has just spent all of his money on a car which means there is no money left for him to care for his children with.  Dean’s arrival means the entire trip much change slightly.

When Dean finally arrives, Sal is not as upset as he thought he would be.  They fall right into step as Dean being the mad one and Sal following him everywhere he goes, admiring him, because he cannot help himself.  They visit Ed and Galatea and learn that they are thinking of settling down and starting a family.

No one is impressed with Dean’s antics any longer, not do they find his madness fun and refreshing, they just look annoyed with him and slightly uncomfortable.  Sal and Dean continue to get rip-roaring drunk, and Sal punches a wall causing him to break a finger.  The next day Sal, Dean, and Stan leave for their Mexico trip, where Dean is sure they will finally find “it”.  Barely into their trip Stan is stung in the arm by some sort of bug and the boys decide they must take him to a hospital.

On the way, they share stories in great detail, about their lives and Stan’s experiences in Europe.  At the hospital, Stan gets a shot of penicillin then Dean sets out to find a pool hall.  Finally at three in the morning the boys enter Mexico, excited and turn their money into pesos.  They are happy and awed to see that Mexico looks exactly as they thought it would.

Sal and Dean feel as though they have found exactly what they have been looking for, the true roots of the beat life.  They love everything that is surrounding them and are hugely excited to discover all they possibly can.

They meet a man named Victor while they are in Gregoria and he tells them that he will hook them up with pot and girls while they are there.  His mother grows the pot herself and Victor rolls a joint bigger than the boys have ever seen which gets them exceptionally high.

Victor takes the guys to find girls and on the way Sal begins to hallucinate where he has visions of Dean as God, and FDR.  After the group meets Victor’s young son,they all have a stab of pining for the domestic life.  Quickly over that feeling, the boys head toward the brothel.

At the brothel, they are treated like royalty.  The guys get to know the various girls and drink and party with them as the people of the town watch through the windows.  Sal has the opportunity to have sex with a few different girls but instead just wants to see them naked and give them money that he feels they desperately need.  He is again feeling the paternal instinct that he has been feeling most of the trip and decides that he does not want to use the girls, and he feels like he may be in love with the sad fifteen year old one.  The boys eventually decide it is time to leave after their tab has reached nearly $40.  The girls and the people of the town cheer for them as they are leaving.

When they leave the car lights are not working so they begin to drive through the jungle in the dark.  When the lights finally come on they are in awe of their surroundings.  The boys decide to pull over the sleep in the car for the night, but Sal is so in tune with his environment he decides to sleep on the hood of the car.  When Sal wakes he sees a white horse come out of the jungle then disappear back in it.

Dean feels as though Sal was probably dreaming, but he remembers dreaming a white horse too so maybe it was real.  Sal sees all of the bugs at his feet and the blood he is covered in from getting eaten alive by bugs all night and freaks out a little.

On the way to Mexico City, they drive through the mountains where they meet some Indians.  Dean is in awe of the little Indian children who are selling crystals on the side of the road.  He is obsessed with the differences in their culture and that of the typical white man and is heartbroken by leaving them behind.

Dean gives one of the girls his pocket watch, and Sal compares him to a prophet.  Once the boys reach Mexico City they realize it is a true city that never sleeps, it is in constant motion and they spend the entire night walking around and drinking in their surroundings.  Sal gets terribly sick, and they discover that he has dysentery.  While Sal is on his sick bed, Dean tells him that he is going to get a quick divorce from Camille and move to New York to be with Inez.  Stan decides to stay with Sal until he gets better and Sal is annoyed with Dean for leaving him, though he understand that Dean lives a complicated life.

In part five Dean moves back to New York and marries Inez, though the next day he has a bit of a freak out and jumps on a bus back to San Francisco to live with Camille and their two children.  When Sal returns to New York he finally meets the girl he had spent so much time dreaming about, her name is Laura.

They wish to move to San Francisco together and write to Dean to tell him.  Dean responds with anunusually long letter telling them that he wants to come to New York and help them move, and to pick out the moving truck.  When Dean arrives he is too early because they do not have enough money saved up yet.

Dean wants to bring Inez back to San Francisco with him, where he lives with Camille, but Inez wants nothing to do with him anymore.  Sal knows that Dean will spend the rest of his life with Camille, and he is happy for them and for their life.  Remi shows up to take Sal and Laura to the opera, and Dean wants to ride in Remi’s car though Remi tells him no.

At this point, Sal must choose between Remi and Dean, or really, between Dean and the life that he has now.  Sal chooses Remi and watches Dean getting smaller and smaller out the back window of the car.  He thinks about Dean and the trips they took as sits on a pier in New Jersey.

After Old Yeller rescues Little Arliss from the bear, Travis begins to appreciate him and also realizes how much he loves his brother.  To make amends for the way he treated both Old Yeller and Little Arliss, Travis brings them squirrel hunting.  They get into a routine where Little Arliss spooks the squirrels, Old Yeller chases them up the tree, and Travis shoots them; they return home one night with five squirrels for dinner.  Old Yeller also helps Travis to catch and shoot a turkey which had been eating the family’s peas.  When Old Yeller never eats any of the meat he is offered at dinner, Travis and Mama begin to suspect that he is stealing food from somewhere, but they forget about it for a little while.

Bud Searcy comes to visit; he is the only man left behind because according to Mama if he went he would spend too much time socializing and mooching other people’s food.  Bud’s eleven-year-old granddaughter Lisbeth comes with him; Travis likes Lisbeth because she is more laid back than other girls, but he never looks directly at her because he feels her eyes go right through him.  Bud asks Mama how everything is going because he feels it is his responsibility to make sure all of the women and children are doing well.  He makes small talk, about the other families in the area and the weather, and then mentions that someone or thing has been stealing food from the settlement.  The people who live around the Salt Licks are ready to kill the thief if he, she, or it is caught and Travis worries because he knows it must be Old Yeller.  Lisbeth pulls Travis aside and tells him that she has seen Old Yeller stealing ribs and eggs, but she will not tell because her dog is pregnant by Old Yeller, so she does not want him to be killed.  Travis gives her an Indian arrowhead as a thanks, and he worries that someone else might see Old Yeller stealing.  He offers Old Yeller an egg from the henhouse and, when the dog refuses it, Travis tells him he hopes he gets caught.

Travis tells Mama that Lisbeth saw Old Yeller stealing.  Mama tells Travis to tie Old Yeller up at night, but the dog bites free of his restraints.  Mama does not want the dog to sleep in the room with Travis and Little Arliss because she worries they will get fleas or ringworm, but Travis insists and when he catches ringworm he treats it himself without telling Mama about it.  Travis and Old Yeller grow close, and Old Yeller proves to be a big help to Travis and also a good companion.  Travis realizes that his father was right; he does need a good dog by his side.

Mama hopes that the cow named Rose will have a heifer calf which will give as much milk as she does and she is delighted when Rose does birth a heifer calf, which they call Spot.  Spot turns out to be quite wild and one day she comes up missing.  Mama thinks that Spot probably had a calf of her own and has holed herself up somewhere with the baby.  Travis goes looking for Spot, and when they find her, sure enough she has just given birth to a calf.  He throws rocks at Spot to try to get her to come out of hiding but all she does it charge at him with her horns until he runs off.  Travis goes back to the house to get Old Yeller, and when they return the dog runs around the cow, bites her on the nose, and plows into her until she falls over a couple times.  Finally, Travis is able to coax Spot home though she will not allow him to milk her until he places Old Yeller right in her face; she obviously does not want to go against the dog again.  Spot allows Travis to milk her, and, within days, she is broken to be a milking cow; Mama is very impressed.  It is not long before a man shows up at the house claiming that Old Yeller is his dog.

Burn Sanderson is the man who claims that Old Yeller belongs to him; he had told Bud Searcy that his dog was missing, and Bud had told him that Travis had the dog.  Mama tells Travis to go get Old Yeller and Travis is upset that Bud Searcy told Burn where the dog was.  Travis goes to get Old Yeller from down by the creek where he is playing with Little Arliss, and when he returns with the dog Burn Sanderson looks genuinely upset that he is taking the dog from the boys.  He offers to allow the family to keep the dog until Papa returns but Mama refuses because she believes the longer they have Old Yeller the harder it will be to let him go.  Burn Sanderson ties Old Yeller up and gets on the horse to leave when Little Arliss, finally catching on to what is happening, begins to yell and throw rocks at the man.  Rather than being upset Burn Sanderson smiles and goes to talk to Little Arliss; he tells the boy that they can keep the dog if Mama will make him a nice home-cooked meal.  Travis is very happy, and Mama makes a grand meal for Burn, which he is very appreciative of.  Burn Sanderson pulls Travis aside and tells him to watch out for hydrophobia, which is going around.  If Travis sees any animal that is acting strangely he must shoot it right away, rather than giving them any time to bite or scratch because then it will be too late.  Travis is fearful of this news, but he vows to protect his family at all costs.  The man places his hand on Travis’ shoulder before he leaves, just as Papa would do, and Travis is so scared of the hydrophobia that he forgets to thank Burn Sanderson for allowing them to keep Old Yeller.

The night that Burn Sanderson tells Travis about the plague of hydrophobia Travis has trouble sleeping, but when he wakes in the morning he has forgotten about the plague and is ready to take care of the hogs.  The hogs are all out on the range, and Travis needs to catch them, mark them, and castrate them one by one.  The hogs are wild and must fend for themselves. Therefore, they will eat other animals if they need to, or they will attack and eat people if they can.  Mama is nervous that Travis is going to be around the hogs, but Travis tells her that he will have Old Yeller with him so he will be fine, though she still worries.  Travis is not worried about the job because he and Papa had developed a method that worked pretty well and he hopes to stick with it as well as he can with Old Yeller; he needs Old Yeller to distract the hogs and chase them to the place where Travis needs them to be.  Travis picks an old oak tree as the place where he will mark the hogs, and he climbs up it.  Old Yeller’s job is to chase the hogs over to the tree, so Travis can rope them one at a time and hoist them up to him.  Travis marks the hogs on their ear with the marking that was assigned to his family; the markings help all of the settlers to know which hogs belong to which families.  The squealing of the pigs and the blood that drips from them after the castration angers the other pigs so when Travis is done he has to remain in the tree for another hour waiting for them to disperse.

When Travis marks the hogs, he keeps a piece each one’s ear, so he can be sure that he has marked all of them.  He thinks that he has marked them all but then Bud Searcy comes by and says there are hogs wandering around in bat cave country that Travis missed.  Travis knows where the caves are though he has never been there and decides to head out with Old Yeller in the morning.  The next morning, Travis and Old Yeller follow the hogs from the watering hole to the prickly-pear flats, where they are feeding, and Travis sees that there are five little pigs to mark.  Travis wants Old Yeller to get the pigs over to the mesquite tree, but the pigs hide under a dirt bank instead.  Travis must improvise so he uses the dirt bank above the cave as he would use a tree and lies on it to rope the pigs below him.  He gets one pig, but when he goes for a second one the bank breaks under his weight, and he falls onto a group of angry hogs.  Travis gets up and tries to run, but the hogs are too quick for him, and he is slashed in the back of the calf by a tusk.  Travis is overcome with pain and knows he cannot move fast enough to get away.  Suddenly Old Yeller jumps in between Travis and the angry hogs and he is tossed around and injured while ensuring that Travis has time to get to safety.  Travis gets far enough away that he can wrap his leg and then he comes back to find Old Yeller.  The hogs have left, and Old Yeller is hiding under a slab of rock, badly injured.  When Travis finally coaxes the dog out of hiding, he becomes teary-eyed at Old Yeller’s condition; he has dozens of open wounds, and his belly is torn so badly that his intestines are showing.  Travis puts Old Yeller back beneath the rock and blocks off the opening with a piece of wood to keep Old Yeller from trying to follow him home and to keep the dog safe until he can bring Mama back to try to help the dog.  Travis limps away, and Old Yeller howls after him.

Travis is incredibly weak by the time that he gets home, and he is trembling with fever.  Mama tends to Travis’ wound with turpentine and wraps it in new bandages.  When Travis tells Mama they need to go get Old Yeller, Mama tells Travis that he cannot move anywhere on his leg for a week, but Travis will not stay home; he gets Jumper the mule ready to go and by the time he is ready to set out Mama has come outside ready to go and wearing her bonnet.  Mama does not want Travis to have to hold onto Old Yeller on the way home so she rigs a sort of sled out of cowhide for Jumper to drag the dog on.  When they reach bat country, there are buzzards swarming and Travis fears that Old Yeller may be dead.  Suddenly the buzzards seem to be spooked by something and Travis hears Old Yeller’s weak barking sounds.  Travis gets to the dog and sees his eye shining crazily but then when the dog recognizes his owner he calms down.  Travis and Mama examine Old Yeller’s wounds without allowing a very scared Little Arliss to see that he is hurt; Mama sends him off to catch a lizard to distract him.  Mama uses a hair from Jumper’s tail to sew up Old Yeller’s stomach and they place him gently on the cowhide, wrapped in clean rags.  On the way home, Mama tells Little Arliss to hold onto Old Yeller on the cowhide, pretending that he is sick and needs to be cared for.  The dog whimpers in pain on the way home and Travis’ leg swells but eventually they all make it.  Travis is happy to have brought Old Yeller home alive and is amazed that the dog is in good enough spirits to lick Little Arliss’ face.

It is a few weeks that Travis and Old Yeller are laid up, and both of them are in incredible pain and suffering from fevers.  Mama mixes up several antidotes for Travis and tries to feed him and Old Yeller whenever they will eat.  Mama ends up taking over all of the chores with Travis laid-up and Little Arliss is not much help to her because he is so young and gets bored easily.  Bud Searcy comes by one day with Lisbeth and a puppy.  Lisbeth asks Travis how he is feeling and, wanting to sound tough, Travis tells her that he is doing alright.  Lisbeth tells Travis she has a surprise for him, and she presents him with a speckled puppy.  Travis seems to hurt Lisbeth’s feelings when he tells her that the puppy will be perfect for Little Arliss, because she leaves him alone afterward.  Travis feels bad he just believes he already has a dog and once Old Yeller is better they will not want to wait around for a puppy to keep up with them; the puppy would be better for Little Arliss because it would entertain him.  Lisbeth gives the puppy to Little Arliss, and Travis sees her look in at him as she and Bud Searcy are leaving.  Bud Searcy then tells Mama that since her husband is gone and Travis cannot help with chores he will leave Lisbeth to help out.  Mama wonders if the little girl will be of much help, but Bud Searcy assures her that Lisbeth is very tough and willing to help out.  As he leaves he tells Lisbeth to behave herself.

Travis and Mama both believe that Lisbeth is too little to help out much around the house, but she proves the two of them wrong.  Lisbeth works hard at her chores without being asked and is always looking for more ways to help out.  Lisbeth and Little Arliss both help Mama to gather corn and though gathering corn is not usually a job that Travis likes to do he finds that he wishes he could be outside helping them.  Travis feels as though his pride is bruised when this little girl can come in and do all of his chores for him, but he takes some solace in knowing that she cannot mark the hogs or kill animals for meat.  One day, Spot does not show up for her milking and when she returns in the morning Travis calls to Mama that she is back; Mama goes out to see Spot, but quickly yells and runs back into the house.  Spot had turned on Mama and tried to attack her so Mama wonders if she ate a poisonous pea-vine and went crazy, but Travis thinks that she probably has hydrophobia.  Everyone watches Spot carefully over the next few days while she walks around in circles and ignores her calf.  The bull called Roany wanders into the yard also, acting just as strangely as Spot though seemingly weaker.  Old Yeller knows the family is danger when he sees the bull, and he growls because the bull is heading toward Little Arliss and Lisbeth.  Travis calls for Mama to get his gun, but Mama runs after the children instead.  The bull tries to run for Mama but falls over, giving Travis the opportunity to shoot him.

Travis and Mama know that they must bring the dead roan bull somewhere to burn the body because being so close to the house it may contaminate the drinking water.  However, they find that Jumper cannot drag the carcass, so they must gather wood to burn the body where it lies.  The fire is huge but still takes two and a half days to completely burn the body; when wolves smell the meat they are drawn to the area but stay away from the fire and from Old Yeller, who is acting as a guard.  Travis remembers that Bud Searcy’s brother contracted hydrophobia, and he wishes that Papa would return home soon.  Mama tells Travis that he must kill Spot as well, and they will have to burn the heifer’s body to be sure that the other cows are not infected.  Travis follows Spot until she is in a place where it will be safe to burn her body without the danger of lighting the woods on fire, and he kills her.  Travis’ leg is in pain when he returns to Mama tells him to rest, and she and Lisbeth go out to gather wood and burn Spot’s carcass.  Travis tells the reader that had he known what was going to happen next he would have tried harder to keep them at home that day.  Travis falls asleep and when he wakes he see Little Arliss playing with the puppy though Mama and Lisbeth have still not returned; he realizes that it probably took a long time to gather wood.  Travis knows that Papa should be coming home soon, and he wonders if Papa will be bringing him a horse.  He mostly wants Papa to come home because of the hydrophobic plague.

As darkness begins to set in, Travis gets worried about Mama and Lisbeth, but he realizes that the task at hand may have taken a while and he cannot think of anything that would be a danger to them.  Travis brings Little Arliss and the puppy inside, and they eat a couple bowls of cornmeal and milk together.  When Travis is putting Little Arliss to bed, he hears dogs fighting outside and hears Mama yell for him to make a light and come outside with his gun.  Travis makes a light out of bear grass and heads outside with his gun where he is horrified to see Old Yeller fighting with a large wolf which Mama says is mad.  Travis does not want to fire at the wolf right away because he fears hitting Old Yeller, but when the wolf gets on top of the dog Travis gets his chance, and he shoots.  The wolf is dead, and Old Yeller licks Travis’ hand; the two of them collapse onto the ground together, and Mama sits with them.  Mama tells Travis that they stopped for water at Birdsong Creek and the wolf almost got her, but she hit it in the head with a stick and then Old Yeller kept it distracted while Mama and Lisbeth got away on Jumper.  Mama tells Travis that they got lucky, but Old Yeller is not so lucky; Travis realizes that Mama is telling him that Old Yeller is probably going to be mad now, and he needs to be killed.  Mama offers to do the job for Travis, but once he realizes that she is right, he reluctantly and sadly calls Old Yeller to him and then shoots him in the head.

Travis is so sad about Old Yeller that he cannot eat, sleep, or cry and feels empty inside.  Travis spends a lot of time thinking about how Old Yeller helped his family and Mama tries to talk with Travis about it to make him feel better, but it does not work.  Lisbeth reminds Travis that the puppy is part of Old Yeller, but Travis only thinks that the puppy has not helped to keep his family alive like Old Yeller did; he feels bad for shooting his dog when he did not even do anything to deserve it.  Soon the rain comes, and the hydrophobic plague is washed away from the land.  Papa comes home in the morning, thinner than he was when he left but happy to have money and a horse for Travis.  Travis appreciates the horse, but Papa can tell something is wrong with him.  Papa gets the story from Mama, and after dinner, he walks down to the creek with Travis and tells him that he knows about Old Yeller.  He tells Travis that he did exactly the right thing, just as a grown man would do, and he is proud of him.  Papa tells Travis to think about the good parts of each situation because if he dwells on the bad then all of life will be bad.  Travis understands what his father is saying, but he is still sad.  A week later, Travis hears Mama yelling at the puppy for stealing cornbread, Little Arliss crying because Mama hit the puppy, and Papa laughing at the whole situation; Travis feels a little better.  When Travis returns from riding his horse he sees Little Arliss playing naked in the water with the puppy and Travis starts laughing uncontrollably.  He decides that he will bring Little Arliss and the puppy squirrel hunting because if the puppy is going to act like Old Yeller he may as well be of use.

Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin   is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.

Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.

Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.

Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.

Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.

Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.

Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.

Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.

Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.

Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.

Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.

The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.

At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.

Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.

The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.

Vin watches in shock as Cett reveals himself to the crowd and to the assembly. He uses his army outside the gates to threaten the people into voting for him. He also tells the crowd about the koloss army not too far away, a fact that Elend hasn’t told anyone.

Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.

Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.

Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.

Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?

Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.

Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.

Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship.  Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.

Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.

Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.

Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.

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.