By Shaw George Bernard
By Shaw George Bernard
George Bernard Shaw was born in 1856 in Dublin, Ireland to middle-class Protestant parents. By the time of his death at the age of 94, he had amassed quite a profound amount of work. He was known for approximately sixty plays, five novels, much social commentary, countless correspondence, and volumes of music and theater criticisms. He is said to be the most famous English playwright behind only William Shakespeare, and his plays are performed daily all over the world. Shaw was known to be a socialist and a bit of a feminist, he did not believe in vaccinating, he was a hypochondriac, and he lived life as a vegetarian and would not wear any animal products other than wool.
Of Shaw’s many plays, it is undoubtedly true that “Pygmalion” is the most popular, most well-received, and most beloved. It was converted in a musical and into a feature film of which Shaw wrote the script. The film, which was released in 1938, earned Shaw an Academy Award. This award joins the Nobel Prize for Literature which he received in 1925. The romance between Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins in the play is meant to represent the relationship between Shaw himself and Mrs. Patrick Campbell, with whom he was having a much talked about affair. To many fans it has been interesting to note that Higgins represents Pygmalion, a character from Ovid which represents love between males and females; while Higgins does not even seem interested in women, much like Shaw himself.
Professor Henry Higgins, who studies phonetics, is waiting out the rain under the portico at Saint Paul’s Church and taking notes on a peculiar dialect that he hears coming from a Flower Girl. He amuses the crowd by guessing where several people are from, within six miles, just based on their dialect. He meets a colleague named Pickering and the two men take off. The next day the Flower Girl shows up at Higgins’ home where he and Pickering are discussing phonetics. She introduces herself as Eliza Doolittle and asks Higgins to give her lessons on how to speak like a lady. Higgins and Pickering think that Eliza will make an interesting project and make a bet out of it: Higgins thinks that he can make people believe Eliza is a Duchess within six months.
Eliza is beautiful when cleaned up and she is a quick learner. At the first test, which occurs at the home of Higgins’ mother, Eliza charms everyone for a time especially the young man Freddy Eynsford-Hill. A few months later Eliza wins the bet for Higgins and he and Pickering seem uninterested in her afterward. Eliza does not know what she will do with her life now that she is a proper lady because she cannot go back to the streets, but she has no way to make money. Eliza gets angry at Higgins and leaves, but only after she makes him sufficiently angry, as well. Higgins becomes lost without Eliza and thinks she is a fool when she says she wants to marry Freddy. He lets her go but believes that she will come back to him.
Language is important in this novel because it is used to define a person. Henry Higgins can tell where a person is from within six miles, or possibly narrow it down to a street if they are from London, just by listening to their dialect. He is a master of phonetics and when he hears the Cockney accent of Eliza he makes the claim that he could turn her into a Duchess in six months. Eliza can be nothing more than a girl who sells flowers on the street with her original accent and poor vocabulary but once Higgins teaches her to change her accent and expands her vocabulary she finds that she no longer knows where she fits in. Language dictates who a person is, in terms of this play and maybe in terms of real life, as well.
The transformation of Eliza is the plot of the play. Higgins makes a bet with Pickering that he can turn Eliza into a lady within six months, and Pickering agrees to pay all of the expenses if Higgins succeeds. Higgins succeeds but Eliza wishes that he had not because now she has had a taste of society and is refined so she cannot go back to being a Flower Girl, but she also has no skills to make it into the world of high society. She has no idea what to do with herself and blames Higgins for putting her in the predicament. Her father experiences something similar; when he inherits money he finds he does not like all of the drama that comes from it.
The concept of identity goes hand in hand with transformation in the scope of this play. Eliza knows exactly who she is when she is a Flower Girl; she just wishes that she had more opportunities in life so she asks Higgins to give her speaking lessons. When Eliza is transformed into a young lady of society, she loses her identity completely. She has no idea where she fits in, she does not know how she will make a living, she does not really know who she is at all, and she feels lost. Higgins was her tie to the higher-class world, and when he seems done with her she has a bit of an identity crisis. Similarly, when Eliza decides she does not need Higgins he feels lost without her.
In this play, it becomes apparent that beauty is dependent on social connections, as is a person’s worth. When Eliza takes a bath and is dressed in clean clothes she is breathtakingly beautiful. The most refined she becomes the more beautiful she is seen as. Of course, Eliza was always beautiful even as a dirty Flower Girl but that beauty was hidden by her unfortunate social circumstances. The more expensive and lovely possessions a person has the more beautiful they becomes as a person. Eliza fits right in with the Eynsford-Hill family once her appearance is impressive but as a Flower Girl they would never associate themselves with her.
It may seem at first glance as though Higgins is the one doing the manipulating in this play, but Eliza does a bit of manipulating in her own right. Higgins manipulates Eliza to be whatever he wants her to be and what he thinks it is acceptable for her to be. It is a game to him, and she is a toy that he loves to play with. Out of spite Eliza manipulates him back. When she realizes that she has lost her identity and that he is done molding her she basically tells him that she does not need him or any of the fancy things that he has given her and that she is going to marry Freddy. Higgins may have acted as though he did not want or need her, but the second she reciprocated he pouted like a child.
The society in London that is displayed in “Pygmalion” is separated very specifically. Eliza was once a part of the lowest class; she lived on the streets in shabby clothing and sold flowers to make money to get by. Professor Henry Higgins is of the higher class; he lives in a grand home, is very wealthy, and he has the right social connections via his mother Mrs. Higgins because he is too socially awkward to make his own connections. Eliza makes a huge jump from the bottom to the top, but she finds that she is uncomfortable at the top because she does not know how to function there.
Professor Higgins’ task with Eliza was not only to teach her to speak properly but also to turn her into a young lady. Eliza started as a garish, obnoxious, loud, and slightly crude girl from the streets. After bathing and being introduced to find clothing Eliza began to embrace her femininity a little more. By the end of the play, Eliza has passed for a high-society young woman and embraced her feminine beauty. Interestingly, Shaw portrays several types of women in this play (Eliza, Mrs. Higgins, Mrs. Pearce, Mrs. and Miss Eynsford-Hill) and all of them seem to be quite independent and outspoken; this was somewhat of a new idea when he wrote the play.
Eliza is the only person in the play who seems to have hopes and dreams. Perhaps this is because she is the only person, other than her father, who is not capable of buying everything that she could ever want. Eliza comes to Higgins for speaking lessons because she dreams of being able to work in a flower shop, rather than having to sell flowers on the street because no one will hire her. Eliza has no idea what she is getting herself into and once she becomes a lady of society she loses her identity and seems to have lost sight of her original goals and dreams.
Sex roles are very clearly defined in this play, and it becomes glaringly obvious that women are not offered the same options in life that men are. When Eliza was just seen as a person who lives on the streets and sells flowers there was no such thing as gender roles. When Eliza becomes a fine lady she realizes that she has limited options; Higgins suggests to her that she find a rich man and marry him. Eliza sees that she can no longer earn her own living because it would not be fitting of her new image, but she also does not want to resort to marrying herself off as a trophy wife.
Higgins provides a sterling example that money cannot buy happiness or class. Higgins has everything that he could want, but he is cocky, arrogant, socially awkward, and rude. He acts like a child when he does not get what he wants, and he refuses to believe that he cannot have something that he sets his sights on. Eliza has no money, but she has more class in her pinky finger than Higgins has in his entire body. Just because a person is wealthy materialistically does not make them wealthy emotionally. Monetary wealth is not enough to make a person complete.
Eliza is a poor girl selling flowers on the rainy streets of London at the start of the play. She has a thick Cockney accent and is loud, sassy, and a bit garish. She wants nothing more than to work in a flower shop, but no one will hire her because of the way she looks and speaks. She asks Higgins for speaking lessons, and he decides to take it a step further and turn her into a fine lady who can mingle in high society. Eliza manages to hold on to a bit of herself after she is transformed so she remains sassy, but she has no identity. When Eliza stands up for herself and becomes an independent woman she gets the admiration she had craved from Higgins only she no longer wants or needs it.
Henry Higgins is interested in the science of phonetics and has created his own alphabet which he uses to discern different dialects. He is a bit of a bully and can be quite immature at times. While he is very wealthy and is able to fit in with the high society crowd he is often socially awkward and rude, though he is at heart a nice guy. He is interested in the challenge of not only teaching Eliza how to speak properly but to also turn her into a fine lady. He does not realize that he wants Eliza in his life until she stands up for herself to him, but by then it is too late.
Pickering is a friend and colleague of Henry Higgins. Pickering is interested in phonetics just as Higgins is and is arguably just as talented. The main difference between the two main male characters is that Pickering is kind, proper, and gentlemanly. Pickering is respectful of Eliza even when she is just a Flower Girl and she credits him with teaching her how to respect herself because he always treats her like a lady. Pickering agrees to cover all costs from Higgins’ experiment in turning Eliza into a lady.
Mrs. Higgins is Henry’s mother. She is a very strong-willed and independent woman. She is embarrassed by the way her son acts when he is in the company of her high-class acquaintances so she does not like him to come over on her at-home days. She sees both Higgins and Pickering as nothing more than children who are playing with their favorite toy; the toy being Eliza. She feels bad for what is bound to become of Eliza when the men lose interest in their experiment. Mrs. Higgins is proven right in her assumptions and all of the characters come to her when everything begins to fall apart.
Alfred Doolittle is the father of Eliza. He is a Dustman who comes to Higgins’ home when he hears Eliza is there and offers to trade him Eliza for five pounds with which he will buy alcohol. Higgins is amused by the man and suggests him to a millionaire as a moral lecturer. When Alfred becomes wealthy, he despises the life, as it is too complicated for him with people coming out of the woodwork to ask him for money. He wishes that he could go back to swindling people for money.
Mrs. Pearce is Henry Higgins’ housekeeper. Mrs. Pearce serves as a voice of reason in the play. She knows that what Higgins is doing to Eliza could very well damage her, and leave her in a state of shock and confusion but he will not listen to her. Mrs. Pearce is the person in Higgins’ life who is the closest to the original social class which Eliza came from and, therefore, she takes it upon herself to protect Eliza as much as she can. She is the one who works closest with Eliza on her physical appearance, and she voices her concerns to Higgins whenever she sees fit.
Freddy first makes an appearance in the first act of the play when he accidentally knocks over Eliza’s flower basket in his haste to find a taxi for his mother and sister. When Freddy is first introduced to the “new” Eliza he is amused when she slips into moments of a Cockney accent and uses phrases that are not known in the high society. He thinks that Eliza is something special and quickly becomes quite taken with her. He sends Eliza love letters and Eliza tells Higgins, mostly just to spite him that she does not need him anymore and she will marry Freddy.
Mrs. Eynsford-Hill is a middle-aged woman of a high class and she is the mother of Freddy and Clara. She is an acquaintance of Mrs. Higgins and is one of the guests at Mrs. Higgins’ home the first time the new Eliza is unleashed on the public. It is the goal of Mrs. Eynsford-Hill to make sure her children make a positive impact on the company she introduces them to and she wants nothing more than to find them suitable marriage possibilities. Mrs. Eynsford-Hill admits that her family is in a rough place, and they are on the decline.
Clara is the 20-ish daughter of Mrs. Eynsford-Hill. Clara represents a typical upper-class snob who cares only about her place in the social world. She knows that her family is on a decline and this serves as a source of her anxiety in the high society; she wants to find a wealthy husband to secure her spot on the world she desires. Clara in also intrigued by the way that Eliza speaks, but also disgusted by it a bit. She even tries to mimic some of Eliza’s speech after she is introduced to her at the home of Mrs. Higgins.
It is late one summer night in London, and there is a downpour. In order to get out of the rain strangers on the streets convene together under the portico at Saint Paul’s church which is in Covent Garden. There is a young man there with his sister and his mother who is forced to go out into the rain and find a taxicab to take them home, though it is obvious that there are none available. He leaves his mother and sister hastily and manages to knock over the flower basket of a young lady who is selling them. She speaks to him in poor-sounding broken English to point out that he knocked over her flowers; from her remark to the boy we learn that his name is Freddy. Freddy’s mother places some money in the Flower Girl’s basket to pay for the flowers which were damaged and asks how she knew her son’s name. It turns out to be only a coincidence that the boy’s name is Freddy because Freddy is just a common name that the Flower Girl calls everyone. The woman is called Mrs. Eynsford-Hill and her daughter is Clara Eynsford-Hill.
As an older military man enters the portico to avoid the rain, the Flower Girl tries to sell him one of her blooms and he gives her some money. Another bystander tells the girl to watch her back because he can see a police informer watching her and making notes on everything that she does. The Flower Girl becomes hysterical and defensive. She claims that she is doing nothing wrong she is just a poor girl who is trying to get by. All of the people under the portico gather around the Flower Girl and the man who is taking notes, the supposed police informer, and express hostility toward the note-taking man as they believe he may be an undercover police officer. The thing that is most odd about the man is that he has an uncanny ability to know exactly where a person is from as soon as they speak to him. He does not only know their country but their town and even their neighborhood. Everyone becomes very amused by this man and his trick.
As the rain clears most everyone clears out of the dry area and sets about their business. Amongst those who remain are the Flower Girl, the Note Taker, and a Gentleman. The Gentleman questions the Note Taker on how he can tell where a person is from just by speaking to them. The Note Taker tells the Gentleman that he understands phonetics, which is the science of speech. The Note Taker thinks that he can make a “duchess” of the Flower Girl just by using what he knows about phonetics. Both men are obviously very interested in and intrigued by the other and introduce themselves. The Note Taker is Professor Henry Higgins, and the other man is Colonel Pickering who is also interested in dialects; in a twist of fate is seems that the two men had been wanting to meet with one another for quite some time and did not realize they were face to face. Pickering and Higgins decide to have dinner together where they can chat about phonetics, but the Flower Girl does not allow them to leave until she convinces Professor Higgins to give her some change. Higgins turns out to be quite generous to the girl by throwing her enough money to take a taxi home, and she is ecstatic at his offering. She has the good luck to find a taxi because Freddy has brought one back with him, though to his dismay his mother and sister have left and are no longer in need of it.
The next morning Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering are having a conversation about phonetics at the home of Higgins. Higgins’ housekeeper, Mrs. Pearce, interrupts them to tell Higgins that a young girl who has a very strange accent is at the door to see him. Higgins knows that it must be the Flower Girl from the night before and he is intrigued by her unique dialect so he lets her in; he thinks that he may be able to learn something new from her. The girl comes into the room wearing what is probably her idea of a high-society outfit; she is wearing what Higgins assumes must be the cleanest clothes she could find and also the silliest hat he has ever seen. She tells Higgins and Pickering that her name is Eliza Doolittle. Higgins decides he is going to throw her out of his house; he has enough of her accent that he does not need her. Eliza surprises Higgins by requesting speaking lessons from him. She wants to be able to speak nicely like other girls so she does not have to sell her flowers out on the street, but maybe in a flower shop. Higgins is not very kind to the girl and threatens to beat her with a broomstick if she does not calm down as she is quite crude in her behaviors. Pickering is shocked at her behavior but also at the behavior of Higgins; he refers to Eliza as “Miss Doolittle” and pulls out a chair for her. Higgins and Pickering both seem intrigued by the idea and agree to give her the lessons she seeks. They do not do it out of the kindness of their hearts, however; they take on the assignment as a bit of a joke. They wonder if they truly can make someone believe that Eliza is a Duchess in only six months’ time and think it will be an interesting task to take on. Pickering tells Higgins that if he is able to pass Eliza off as a Duchess at the Ambassador’s garden party then he will front all of the money that it will take to clean her up.
The men discuss Eliza’s potential or lack thereof and stuff her face with chocolates when she protests their insults. Eliza is set to live with Higgins for six months and to learn how to be a civilized lady. Higgins sends Mrs. Pearce away with Eliza; she is to burn all of the clothes that Eliza is wearing, clean her up, and make her presentable. Mrs. Pearce comes back downstairs to remind Higgins that he needs to learn to mind his own table manners now that there is going to be a lady in the house. While Eliza is bathing a dustman, which is a British garbage man, comes into the home. The man introduces himself to Higgins and Pickering as Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s father. Alfred tells Higgins that he will leave Eliza alone there with him if the man will give him five pounds so he can buy some booze. Higgins is surprised at how well Alfred speaks and how little he sounds like Eliza. He gives the man some money and continues to speak to him though their conversation is interrupted when a “Japanese lady” enters the room. Eliza is bathed and dressed in a kimono. Higgins is surprised at how pretty Eliza is when she is cleaned up. She eats up the attention she receives from everyone and is so pleased with her new look that she wants to go see the other Flower Girls and marched up and down in front of them to show off. Higgins tells Eliza that he is sure it is not a good idea for her to do this, but she does not seem interested in veering from her plan. Mrs. Pearce saves the day by luring Eliza away by promising to give her more new clothes. Eliza has a lot of crude energy, which she shows by howling like a wild animal as she leaves the room. Higgins and Pickering know that they have their work cut out for them if anyone is going to believe that girl is a Duchess.
Henry Higgins is at the apartment where his mother lives for her at-home day. She is not pleased to see her son because she is expected rather respectable company that day and she feels Henry is not capable of being civilized. He has decided that he wants to test his progress with Eliza that day at his mother’s home. Mrs. Higgins is not sure that it is a good idea, and she gives the impression that she does not usually think anything Higgins does is a good idea. She tells him that whenever her friends meet Henry they stop coming around because he lacks any social grace. She does not want some poor Flower Girl setting a bad impression on the people she is expecting. Higgins does not care what she thinks and will go through with it anyway. Henry Higgins does not seem to be interested in women at all, except his mother who appears to be the only woman in his life. Higgins tells his mother that he will make sure Eliza only talks about appropriate topics of conversation, such as the weather, and that she will be on her absolute best behavior.
Later that day the party turns out to be not much of a party at all. The guests at Mrs. Higgins home are Mrs. Eynsford-Hill, Clara Eynsford-Hill, Freddy, Colonel Pickering, and Eliza. Eliza enters the room later than the other guests, and she looks stunning. She asks everyone “How do you do?” in a perfect accent, though there are not many other words which she has perfected so her vocabulary and conversation is limited. Higgins is distracted by the mother and daughter at the party, as he cannot remember where he knows them from. When he finally figures it out he realizes that he was distracted for too long, and Eliza is no longer sticking to the script which they had planned. She is telling a story about an aunt who was “did in” by influenza, and then slips into her old accent and Freddy is eating up every word she is saying. Thankfully, Freddy does not seem to be a very bright boy, and he thinks that Eliza is just an extremely funny girl, not realizing that she is Cockney and is being entirely serious rather than funny.Higgins is incredibly embarrassed by the show Eliza is putting on and gives a cough; this is the signal that means it is time to leave so Eliza gets up and excuses herself. Freddy offers to walk Eliza home, and she says to him “Walk! Not blood likely. I am going in a taxi.” Clara is a bit infatuated with Eliza just like her brother and tries to imitate the way she talks, thinking it the cool thing to do.
When the Eynsford-Hill family leaves the home of Mrs. Higgins she takes a moment to speak to her son and Colonel Pickering. She first of all thinks that there is no way Eliza can possibly be turned into a nice young woman living with Higgins and his dirty mouth. She thinks that what they are doing to Eliza is a cruel experiment, and she scolds them for it. She goads the two men for treating Eliza as if she is their live doll to play around with and demands to know exactly why she is staying in a home with two old bachelors. They both assure Mrs. Higgins that they are not being cruel to Eliza at all but rather are treating her well. They begin to go on about all of the progress that Eliza is making, and Mrs. Higgins is forced to shush them up so she can speak. She tells them that they need to think about what they are going to do with her once she is transformed, as it is a matter to consider because she will no longer fit in anywhere; she will have no income and no education so she will not be able to live in high society but she will feel too good for the streets. Higgins and Pickering seem to find no problem and bid adieu to Mrs. Higgins.
It is a few months later, and the setting is Higgins’ home on Wimpole Street. Eliza is looking extremely beautiful, as always, but rather tired. Higgins and Pickering stumble into the room as well, quite drunk, and congratulating one another. They have just spent the night showing off Eliza, and she has won the bet for Higgins. Higgins does not congratulate Eliza, however, because he is too busy talking about how wonderful he is, what a great job he did, and looking for his slippers. Higgins and Pickering completely ignore the fact that Eliza is in the room and talk about the events of the evening. The men speak about Eliza as though she is some sort of robot or toy that performs tricks. They talk about how glad they are that the whole thing is finally over because they were very bored with the experiment in the last couple months. Eliza understands everything the men are saying because her vocabulary has greatly expanded by this point and she sees that Higgins is for the most part a total jerk and usually a quite miserable human being. Eliza is kind enough to bring Professor Higgins his slippers, but he still does not acknowledge her presence and thinks that the slippers appeared out of thin air. Eliza is getting furious and feels as though she just might strangle both of the men when Higgins finally speaks to her; he asks her to turn out the lights and to deliver his order for breakfast to Mrs. Pearce. Rather than do as he asks Eliza is angrier than ever; she throws his slippers at him and she threatens to actually kill him.
Higgins tells Eliza that she is presumptuous and ungrateful for all that he and Pickering have done for her. What Mrs. Higgins has predicted is coming true; Eliza has become a lady and now she does not know what to do with herself. Higgins no longer cares about her because he has won his bet, their lessons are over, and she has no idea how she will make her living now. Professor Higgins tries to calm her down with suggestions that she work in a flower shop or possibly get married but Eliza does not want to hear any of it. She is insulted that Higgins would suggest that she marry a rich man as her way out. She makes the comment that she used to sell flowers rather than herself, but now that she is a lady herself is all that she has to sell. She wishes that she had been left on the street as a Flower Girl because at least then she would know where her life was headed. Eliza’s only interest is to leave the house; she tells Higgins that he can keep all of the lavish clothing and jewelry that he has outfitted her with because she does not want to be accused of thievery if she keeps it; she even gives him back a ring he bought her. Higgins is the one who is angry now, and he nearly hits her. He settles on swearing in her face, throwing the ring in the fire, and storming out of the room. Eliza is pleased to get this sort of reaction from Higgins. She gets the ring out of the fire and leaves it on the dessert table for him to see before she walks out the door.
Mrs. Higgins is greeted the next morning by Henry and Colonel Pickering who are looking for Eliza.They are on the phone with the police and Mrs. Higgins tells her servant to go upstairs and tell Eliza not to come down, as Eliza has sought refuge there. Higgins is incredibly whiney, even for him, as though he cannot find his most prized toy. Mrs. Higgins suggests that Higgins and Pickering have scared the poor girl off with their garish ways. Higgins seems to have lost himself without Eliza; he is not sure what to do now. Mrs. Higgins tells the two men that they are acting like whiney children, and it is their own fault that she left. Once again the men are greeted by Alfred Doolittle entering the room though this time he is a cleaned-up gentleman. He is not happy with Higgins as Higgins apparently wrote a letter to a millionaire after meeting Mr. Doolittle and suggested that Doolittle was an intriguing moralist. The millionaire took a liking to Alfred, and when he died he left Alfred a bunch of money.Higgins knew that the man had a gift for gab when he first met him and Alfred is putting that to use by touring as a lecturer all over England. He does not like his newfound wealth, however, as he misses swindling people and taking their money. He also despises all of the long-lost relatives and strangers who have come out of the woodwork to ask for loans. He wishes that he could go back to being a slovenly dustman. Mrs. Higgins finds this scenario perfect because now that Eliza’s father has money he can be the one to take care of her. Higgins vehemently and childishly objects because he bought Eliza from Alfred Doolittle fair and square for five pounds. Eliza comes down the stairs, as she has been in the house all along. She completely ignores Professor Higgins but thanks Pickering for being a gentleman and treating her like a lady which greatly aided her transformation. She tells him that his treatment of her taught her self-esteem, which is important to her. Higgins is about to throw a temper tantrum until he hears Eliza whooping and screaming like she used to when she sees her father all dressed up; the fact that the old Eliza is still in there makes him happy. Alfred tells his daughter that he is on his way to his own wedding, and he asks Colonel Pickering and Mrs. Higgins to come along with him.
Everyone leaves the apartment except for Henry Higgins and Eliza. Higgins talks to Eliza about humanity and how he threw his slippers in his face; he did not even like her to bring him his slippers.Eliza tells him that he is a mean person, but he insists that he is only fair because he treats everyone the same exact way no matter who they are. Higgins wants Eliza to come back and be his adopted daughter or marry Pickering, but she refuses; telling him that she would rather sell flowers on the side of the street again then live with him. As the fight continues on Eliza tells Higgins that she is going to marry Freddy who has been writing her love letters, but Higgins thinks that is a terrible idea. She says that she wants her independence from him, and she will blackmail him with all of his secrets to get it.She is willing to take everything she learned from him and to use it herself to work as his competition. Higgins calls her an “impudent slut” and then admits that he likes this side of her. He thinks that they are equals, but Eliza does not want anything to do with him. As she is leaving he yells after her to get him some clothing, and groceries because he is sure that she will return. As she leaves Higgins laughs to his mother at the notion that Eliza will marry Freddy.
“Heartsick”: Billie Jo has a crush on Mad Dog, but she does not want to tell him because she thinks he would never want her when he could have any girl. Billie Jo wishes she could talk to Ma because she does not feel comfortable talking to Daddy about her feelings.
“Skin”: There are some spots on Daddy’s face that are similar to spots his father used to have, though it is not specified what they are.
“Regrets”: Billie Jo does not go to Arley’s house anymore; actually she does not actually associate with Arley, Vera, or Mad Dog at all outside of school. One day Mad Dog starts walking Billie Jo home from school, and she wonders if he likes her because he acts different around her than other girls. She thinks that maybe she should stay away from him.
“Fire on the Rails”: Fire is something that can occur easily in Billie Jo’s environment because everything is so dry and she is scared of the possibility. When things like the school or railroad cars catch on fire no one talks to Billie Jo about it because they know about her experience with fire, but she hears about the fires when they happen anyway.
“The Mail Train”: The mail train gets stuck in the dust, but Billie Jo still gets her letter from Aunt Ellis anyway. Aunt Ellis wants Billie Jo to come and live with her in Texas, but Billie Jo does not want to, no matter how awful she wants to get away from the dust. Daddy thinks that she should wait it out and see what happens.
“Migrants”: The migrant workers are heading out because there is no work, but they say they will be back. Billie Jo does not think they will be back because everyone says that California is the place to be.
“Blankets of Black”: There are blue skies for a couple of days, so Billie Jo and Daddy decide to go to a woman’s funeral in a neighboring town. On the way, the sky suddenly turns black, and Daddy, and Billie Jo make it into a nearby house just before the dust storm begins. It is the worst storm some of them have ever seen, and when it is over Billie Jo and Daddy decide to head home rather than to the funeral. At home their barns are covered with dunes, the animals are dying, and the front door of the house was pushed open by the storm, so there is dust covering everything inside.
“The Visit”: Mad Dog comes to see Billie Jo to tell her that he is moving to Texas where he has been offered a job singing on the radio. He says that he loves the land, but he must follow his heart and his opportunities. When Mad Dog walks away from Billie Jo’s house, the dust swirls up around him.
“Freak Show”: James Kingsbury is the photographer who took photos of the Dionne quintuplets when they were born. The photographer is taking photos of the oddest damage from the dust storms that he can find, including that which is on Billie Jo’s land. She worries that she, Daddy, and the other townspeople will be seen as a freak show, just like the quintuplets became.
“Help from Uncle Sam”: The government is giving money to the farmers to help them purchase seed for their crops and feed for their animals. Daddy signs on for the aid but only after the government lady tells him he does not have to worry about paying the money back because he does not know when he would be able to do that. Billie Jo continues to consider Aunt Ellis’ offer.
“Let Down”: Arley asks Billie Jo to play at the graduation but when she tries to she is unable. Arley has nothing to say to her, and Miss Freeland is brought to tears. Billie Jo feels like she failed everyone and she hopes that soon Daddy will get a doctor to look at the spots on his face so she can have her hands looked at too. Daddy tells Billie Jo he is not going to the doctor, and she worries that both of them are going to become dust.
“Hope”: Snow begins to fall and it turns to a drizzling rain that soaks the ground. Soon the harder rain begins to fall, and it does not stop. Daddy is so excited he dances in the rain and starts cleaning off his tractor because he thinks he may need it still.
“The Rain’s Gift”: The rain brings new grass, which the cows happily graze in. The neighboring farmers are all ecstatic with the change in the weather.
“Hope Smothered”: The nice weather leaves just as quickly as it came and soon a dust storm covers everything once again. The lady who works for the government, Mrs. Love, is offering jobs to the men around town and Billie Jo wishes that she was a man so she could get one of the jobs.
“Sunday Afternoon at the Amarillo Hotel”: Everyone gathers at the hardware store on the day that Mad Dog is going to sing on the radio. Mad Dog sounds beautiful, and everyone claps when he is done except for Billie Jo. She is deep in thought and jealous that Mad Dog honestly seems to be in charge of his own life.
“Baby”: When an abandoned baby is found on the steps of the church Billie Jo asks Daddy if they can adopt it; he tells her that it would not be fair because they have nothing to offer the baby. Daddy suggests that Billie Jo give the box of Franklin’s clothes to the new baby. When Billie Jo gets home from dropping the box of clothing off she sits down at the piano and tries to write a song for all of the babies.
“Old Bones”: There are dinosaur bones found in the state of Oklahoma and Billie Jo cannot help imagining what her life would be like if dinosaurs were still around; she gets a chuckle thinking about them roaming like cattle. While Daddy is standing by Ma’s and Franklin’s graves, he thinks about Billie Jo’s desire to leave and tells her that it is time for them to let the dead be.
“The Dream”: Billie Jo has a dream one night that her piano takes on the characteristics of her mother, in the sense that she can talk to it, and it comforts her.
“Midnight Truth”: At night Billie Jo thinks about how much her mother’s death affects her while Daddy seems like he does not care anymore. She thinks that Daddy is read to die and that maybe the pond he is digging is a grave for himself. Billie Jo feels remarkably alone and vows to leave Daddy before he leaves her.
“Out of the Dust”: Billie Jo gathers the little bit of food and money that she can find and leaves her father’s house in the middle of the night. She hops on a train that is heading west and leaves the dust behind her.
“Gone West”: It has been two whole days that Billie Jo has been riding the train she is freezing cold though she has a fever. Sometimes she sees migrant workers watching the train and once she sees a girl looking at her.
“Something Lost, Something Gained”: A filthy man gets on the train in the same car as Billie Jo and asks her for some food. He tells her about his family, which he left behind because he was unable to care for them, and she tells him about her life, as well. Billie Jo falls asleep, and when she wakes the man is gone and so is her food, though he left her the photo of his family. Billie Jo gets off the train at the next stop and calls Mr. Hardly to deliver a message to her father that she will be coming home.
“Homeward Bound”: Leaving Daddy’s house was not what Billie Jo thought it would be; it was lonely and it only made her and Daddy further apart than ever before.
“Met”: When Billie Jo sees Daddy she tells him about everything that has been going through her head. She tells him that she is capable of growing but only if he will nurture and help her. She also tells Daddy that she wants him to see a doctor about the spots that are on his face and he agrees. Billie Jo finds that she is finally forgiving both her father and herself.
“Cut it Deep”: When Daddy finally goes to the doctor he finds out that he has cancer and the doctor wishes that he had visited sooner; the doctor cuts away all of the cancer that he can. Billie Jo wonders what she can do to make her hands better, and the doctor only advises her to use them. Later, Billie Jo and Daddy go through some boxes of things that Ma had kept and cannot bring themselves to get rid of much because it reminds them so much of her. Daddy tells Billie Jo that he thought of running away a few times as well, but he is not as outgoing as Billie Jo; she thinks that they are a lot alike.
“The Other Woman”: Louise is Daddy’s new friend and she is good for him; she stuck by him when Billie Jo was gone, and she gets him to do household chores. Billie Jo likes Louise, but she is scared that Louise may take Daddy’s attention away from her just when they are getting close again. Daddy admits that he never wanted Billie Jo to move to Texas, and they laugh about Aunt Ellis for a little while.
“Not Everywhere”: While Billie Jo likes Louise and is getting used to having her around, she will not allow Louise to visit the place where Ma and Franklin are buried because that is private.
“My Life, or What I Told Louise After the Tenth Time She Came to Dinner”: Billie Jo talks to Louise about her hands and how Ma used to play beautiful music. She also tells her that when she ran away it was to find something but all she truly needed was to be home. She also mentions that though her hands are not so pleasant to look at someday they will be fine again. Billie Jo likes that Louise listens but does not offer her opinions.
“November Dust”: The dust is not entirely gone, it still blows around from time to time, but the wheat has been growing and the apple trees have survived. Mad Dog has gotten a job working for a radio station in Amarillo, but he comes back to visit Billie Jo each week when he is in town. Billie Jo feels like life is a vast improvement from what it was a year ago.
“Thanksgiving List”: With Thanksgiving coming up, Billie Jo thinks about the things that she is thankful for in her life. This list includes Daddy, his smile, her home, dampness in the ground, having food that is not covered in dust, and having hope for the future.
“Music”: Billie Jo is finally starting to genuinely appreciate and love music again and she realizes that it is a part of her, and it keeps her feeling alive. She thinks about how she wanted to get away from the dust so badly at one point, but unquestionably the dust made Billie Jo the person that she is, and that person is someone who she likes.
“Teamwork”: After dinner one night, Billie Jo and Louise take a walk together and Billie Jo learns more about her Daddy’s friend. Louise teaches at the night school Daddy attended, and she has never been married before. Louise says that she must have been lonely though she never realized it until Daddy came into her life. Later on Daddy takes Louise to see Ma’s grave so he can talk to Ma about Louise and their intentions.
“Finding a Way”: Daddy is excited to start planting new and different crops now that the dust storms have let up. Meanwhile, Billie Jo has begun playing more to stretch her skin out, so her hands do not hurt so badly. Billie Jo realizes that when people talk about hard times they are usually talking about being poor or having to live with the dust but those are not real hard times; real hard times are the times when one loses hope. Louise becomes an official part of the family when she and Daddy get married and she tends to Ma’s apples just as Ma would. Billie Jo continues to play the piano because it is what she loves.
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 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.