Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

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Psyche (Istral) Character Analysis

Psyche is Orual’s half-sister, the King’s daughter by his second marriage. She is the most perfect and beautiful woman imaginable, inspiring comparisons to Helen of Troy and Aphrodite herself. Psyche’s physical appearance corresponds to her moral perfection, both of which lead to her becoming a goddess in the end. Orual loves Psyche more than anything, wishing she could be mother, husband, and master to her, and Psyche returns her love. However, Orual’s love quickly becomes destructive when Psyche is selected to be sacrificed because the people’s worship of her has angered Ungit. Psyche doesn’t fight her fate the way Orual wants her to, and Orual feels that Psyche doesn’t truly love her. Similarly, when Orual finds Psyche in the valley, Psyche’s happiness and independence anger Orual, who wants to be necessary to her life. Psyche wants to be loyal to her husband, but she can’t bear to be responsible for Orual’s suicide, so she agrees to look at his face as Orual demands. As a result, Psyche is exiled from Glome and must complete a series of nearly impossible tasks set her by Ungit. Psyche also acts as a Christ figure, first healing the people of a fever and then going to a likely death chained to a tree (reminiscent of the cross) for the good of the people. To Orual, who’s sure she has died, Psyche seems to rise from the dead, as Christ did. Furthermore, Psyche begins life as a human and becomes divine.

Psyche (Istral) Quotes in Till We Have Faces

The Till We Have Faces quotes below are all either spoken by Psyche (Istral) or refer to Psyche (Istral). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition of Till We Have Faces published in 2012.
Part 1: Chapter 2 Quotes

The Fox clapped his hands and sang, “Prettier than Andromeda, prettier than Helen, prettier than Aphrodite herself.”

“Speak words of better omen, Grandfather,” I said, though I knew he would scold and mock me for saying it. For at his words, though on that summer day the rocks were too hot to touch, it was as if a soft, cold hand had been laid on my left side, and I shivered.... I knew it is not good to talk that way about Ungit.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), The Fox (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Related Symbols: Ungit
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Psyche is still a child, and she, Orual, and the Fox are looking towards the Grey Mountain, where Psyche imagines having a palace. The Fox exclaims over Psyche’s beauty. This passage presents the main conflict that leads to Psyche’s sacrifice: Ungit doesn’t like mortals to be considered more beautiful than she is.

Though the Fox insists that the Divine Nature isn’t jealous, Andromeda, one of the mythical figures to whom he compares Psyche, suffered due to the gods’ jealousy of her beauty, which bodes ill for Psyche’s future. When Andromeda’s mother boasted that her daughter was prettier than certain sea nymphs, the god of the ocean sent a sea monster to the coast of their country. Similarly, Ungit will send lions to terrorize Glome. An oracle tells Andromeda’s father, the king, that he must sacrifice her to appease the gods, which is exactly what Psyche’s father will also do. Since the Fox says Psyche is prettier than Aphrodite (the Greek form of Ungit), he essentially makes the exact fatal mistake that Andromeda’s mother did in the same breath that he summons up her story.

Orual, who doesn’t shun belief in the gods the way the Fox does, seems to sense Ungit’s displeasure. As it later becomes evident that Orual is closely connected to Ungit; perhaps she is more sensitive to Ungit’s jealousy than others would be. This scene marks only the beginning of Ungit’s anger, which will tear apart all of their lives.

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Part 1: Chapter 3 Quotes

Her beauty, which most of them had never seen, worked on them as a terror might work. Then a low murmur, almost a sob, began; swelled, broke into the gasping cry, “A goddess, a goddess.” One woman’s voice rang out clear. “It is Ungit herself in mortal shape.”

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Related Symbols: Ungit
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

When the people of Glome come to the palace gates, demanding that Psyche heal them of the fever because they have heard that she healed the Fox, many of them have never seen her before. When she comes out of the palace, they are struck dumb by her beauty and hail her as a goddess. Their worship of her eventually brings Ungit’s wrath down upon Psyche, as Orual fears it will.

Psyche’s beauty initially affects the people in a way similar to how Orual imagines her own ugliness works, making them terrified. Furthermore, though they hail Psyche as the goddess Ungit, Orual is the one who will eventually become Ungit. Ironically, the people believe Ungit is distinguished by her beauty, but, in fact, the ugliest woman in the kingdom more truly represents her. The fact that people see in Psyche the goddess who eventually possesses Orual also connects Psyche and Orual through this divine presence, acting as an early indication of the link between the sisters that will allow them to complete Psyche’s tasks together later on. As seen here, the gods flow through humans, connecting humans to one another and to the gods.

Part 1: Chapter 7 Quotes

Since I write this book against the gods, it is just that I should put into it whatever can be said against myself. So let me set this down: as she spoke I felt, amid all my love, a bitterness. Though the things she was saying gave her (that was plain enough) courage and comfort, I grudged her that courage and comfort. It was as if someone or something else had come in between us. If this grudging is the sin for which the gods hate me, it is one I have committed.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Page Number: 74-75
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual goes to visit Psyche where she has been imprisoned until her sacrifice, Psyche seems quite undisturbed by her impending doom. She even points out that she’s always longed to go to the Grey Mountain and suggests that this is her fate. Orual, who by the time of writing her account is a just Queen, knows that she must be as honest as possible in telling her story in order to receive a fair judgment from her reader. She admits that, in this situation, she doesn’t want Psyche to be happy.

Orual’s love always includes jealousy, and this passage shows her jealousy of the gods, who she feels have “come in between” her and Psyche. Psyche essentially expresses her willingness to go to the gods, which Orual sees as a diminishment of Psyche’s love for her, simply because Psyche doesn’t rage against anything that separates her from Orual. This scene marks only the beginning of Orual’s resentment of Psyche’s happiness. Though she won’t acknowledge her own jealousy until the end of the book, she will eventually realize that reactions such as this one come from her jealousy of the gods’ ability to have whatever mortals they want for themselves.

Part 1: Chapter 11 Quotes

For the world had broken in pieces and Psyche and I were not in the same piece. Seas, mountains, madness, death itself, could not have removed her from me to such a hopeless distance as this. Gods, and again gods, always gods... they had stolen her. They would leave us nothing. A thought pierced up through the crust of my mind like a crocus coming up in the early year. Was she not worthy of the gods? Ought they not to have her? But instantly great, choking, blinding waves of sorrow swept it away....

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Page Number: 120-21
Explanation and Analysis:

This passage occurs after Orual realizes that Psyche lives in a divine palace that Orual cannot see or feel. It seems worse to her that they should be in the same physical place but living apparently on different planes—mortal and divine—as opposed to being separated only by distance. Orual exhibits her jealousy of the gods, choosing to believe that they kidnapped Psyche rather than acknowledging that Psyche went to them more or less readily. She seems to imagine a struggle of mortals versus gods in which the gods take everything wonderful from the humans, and she hates them for their ability to draw the best people willingly to their realms.

For a moment, Orual does find herself wondering whether she’s being unfair. She considers Psyche’s rightful place, which, by implication, would be the one in which Psyche would be most happy. However, Orual’s way of loving doesn’t allow her to put her beloved’s happiness before her own. Her grief at the thought of entirely losing Psyche to the gods overpowers any consideration of what would be best for Psyche.

“Get up, girl,” I said. “Do you hear me? Do as you’re told. Psyche, you’ve never disobeyed me before.”

She looked up (wetter every moment) and said, very tender in voice but hard as stone in her determination, “Dear Maia, I am a wife now. It’s no longer you that I must obey.”

I learned then how one can hate those one loves. My fingers were round her wrist in an instant, my other hand on her upper arm. We were struggling.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral) (speaker), The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Page Number: 126-27
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual meets Psyche in the valley, they argue about whether the palace really does exist and whether Psyche should stay there or come home with Orual. When it begins to rain, the fact that Psyche gets wet seems to Orual to prove that the palace is a figment of Psyche’s imagination, since Psyche insists that they’re inside, sheltered from the rain. Orual commands her to come under her cloak to stay dry, but Psyche refuses.

Though Orual technically only commands Psyche in reference to their immediate situation in the rain, her sentiment applies to their entire situation. Orual, in her position as an older sister and mother figure, believes Psyche should obey Oural’s will and abandon this imagined palace. The fact that Orual becomes so enraged when Psyche declares that her allegiance has shifted to her husband, the god of the Mountain, proves the existence of the jealousy that Orual denies she feels. Orual can’t stand the idea that Psyche might belong to someone else, as Orual’s love makes her want to possess and control Psyche. Furthermore, Orual’s love mixes dangerously with hatred, meaning that no matter how much she insists that she acts for Psyche’s own good, hatred motivates her actions just as much as the love she claims to work for.

Part 1: Chapter 12 Quotes

I must lie on the steps at the great gate of that house and make my petition. I must ask forgiveness of Psyche as well as of the god. I had dared to scold her (dared, what was worse, to try to comfort her as a child) but all the time she was far above me; herself now hardly mortal.... if what I saw was real. I was in great fear. Perhaps it was not real.... Then as I rose... the whole thing was vanished.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral), The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Related Symbols: The Palace on the Mountain
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

In the brief moments of the early morning during which Orual actually sees Psyche’s palace, she perceives all of her mistakes and repents. She understands that Psyche is no longer under her power, but in fact is far superior to her in every respect. In effect, Orual realizes that she has offended the gods for no reason and she must make amends. However, even as Orual understands all of this, she also doubts her own perception of reality. In contrast to Psyche’s immediate faith when shown a glimpse of the god West-wind, Orual isn’t sure that she can trust her vision of the palace any more than she could trust its invisibility earlier. It could be a trick of the gods, or it could be her own mind fooling her. Her concerns become even more pressing when the palace vanishes.

The rest of the story actually hinges on this moment, as Orual manages to convince herself that the palace was only an illusion. Deep down, she knows it was real, but it works to her advantage to deny its existence and insist that Psyche isn’t really living with a god. Though Orual complains that the gods don’t speak clearly to humans, this moment shows that even when the gods do speak, the real problem lies in humans’ faulty listening skills.

I perceived now that there is a love deeper than theirs who seek only the happiness of their beloved. Would a father see his daughter happy as a whore? Would a woman see her lover happy as a coward? My hand went back to the sword. “She shall not,” I thought.... However things might go, whatever the price, by her death or mine or a thousand deaths... Psyche should not—least of all, contentedly—make sport for a demon.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral), The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

On the trip home from the valley, Bardia tells Orual that he believes Psyche is sleeping with a monster, and Orual tries to decide what to do about it. She knows that Psyche is happy in her current situation, no matter how much Orual may hate it. She doesn’t often examine her way of loving, and when she does now, she consciously chooses to love in a destructive way, thinking this the best and truest way to love.

Essentially, Orual decides that she knows what is best for Psyche, and she has a responsibility to guide Psyche towards this path even if it reduces Psyche’s happiness. In fact, her sense of responsibility is so strong that she would rather kill herself or Psyche than see Psyche remain in a situation that Orual finds dishonorable. Bardia’s wife, Ansit, will later expose the faults in this way of thinking, insisting that those who love must allow their beloveds to live their lives as they wish. Love is not a contract of possession as Orual wants it to be. Orual’s logic here begins to push her love towards hatred.

Part 1: Chapter 14 Quotes

You are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I did not know. It is like looking into a deep pit. I am not sure whether I like your kind better than hatred. Oh, Orual—to take my love for you, because you know it goes down to my very roots and cannot be diminished by any other newer love, and then to make of it a tool, a weapon, a thing of policy and mastery, an instrument of torture—I begin to think I never knew you. Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here.

Related Characters: Psyche (Istral) (speaker), Orual (The Queen)
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual is trying to convince Psyche to look at her lover’s face when he comes to her that night, Orual stabs herself in the arm to show that she feels desperate enough to kill both herself and Psyche if Psyche doesn’t obey. Up until now, Psyche has mostly tried to be understanding of Orual’s position, but at this point she can no longer deny that Orual does wrong.

Psyche recognizes that Orual’s way of loving verges on hatred. Orual is abusing Psyche, but she can’t fool Psyche into thinking that she owes Orual this act against her husband. Psyche sees that Orual is using Psyche’s love for Orual to coerce Psyche into doing her bidding, since Psyche obviously doesn’t want Orual to kill herself. Orual doesn’t see anything wrong in this, as she believes that the outcome will be for Psyche’s own good. In fact, she thinks that she’s committing an act of love herself. Not until much later will she realize that for love to be true, it cannot be used to control the beloved’s life.

Part 1: Chapter 15 Quotes

He made it to be as if, from the beginning, I had known that Psyche’s lover was a god, and as if all my doubtings, fears, guessings, debatings, questionings of Bardia, questionings of the Fox, all the rummage and business of it, had been trumped-up foolery, dust blown in my own eyes by myself. You, who read my book, judge. Was it so?

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral), Bardia, The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

When Psyche looks at her lover’s face, he destroys the valley and appears to Orual. He seems to know everything about her, and he makes it seem that she knew the truth all along and willfully denied it. As Orual is writing her complaint against the gods, the god’s apparent changing of the past forms one of her accusations of wrongdoing. At the same time, the fact that she asks for the reader’s judgment should make the reader really consider this question. Although she seems to expect the reader to side with her, once the god raises the question, one can see the truth in his interpretation of events.

Orual never wanted Psyche’s lover to be a god, because she didn’t want to give Psyche up to anyone else, much less to someone so clearly superior to Orual herself and someone who is likely, in Orual’s eyes, to take up all of Psyche’s love and leave Orual nothing. But Psyche would never lie to Orual, and she seemed perfectly sane. Furthermore, Orual did see the palace for a moment. This evidence probably made Orual know the truth on some level, but she made the situation seem much more complicated in her own mind so that she could find reasons to tear Psyche from her lover and have her all to herself again.

Here, the god causes Orual to come close to self-understanding, but she’s so deep in denial that even when he describes her character to her, she cannot recognize the truth of the portrait. Later, Orual will realize that this is exactly why the gods don’t speak to humans—even when they do, humans can’t listen properly until they can see themselves truly.

Part 1: Chapter 20 Quotes

I must now pass quickly over many years... during which the Queen of Glome had more and more a part in me and Orual had less and less. I locked Orual up or laid her asleep as best I could somewhere deep down inside me; she lay curled there. It was like being with child, but reversed; the thing I carried in me grew slowly smaller and less alive.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:

After Psyche’s exile, Orual becomes the Queen and finds that the work of running a country beneficially distracts her from her grief at the loss of her sister. She also finds that she can become someone new as Queen and thus completely bury the old Orual, whom she thinks of as being weak and full of pain. Though she doesn’t acknowledge it, the old Orual is also wracked with guilt at the role she played in ruining Psyche’s life. In burying Orual inside the more noble and stoic role of the Queen, she can also deny her guilt and avoid examining the awful deeds she has committed in the name of love. Though the gods will eventually force Orual to recognize what she has done and who she really is, making herself into an entirely new person allows her to delay this painful process.

Orual likens the process of repressing her old self to a sort of inverse pregnancy. As she becomes more the Queen and less Orual, she also taps into conventionally masculine aspects of herself. She kills a man in a duel to affirm her reign and, by veiling her face, denies everyone the ability to judge her based on her appearance, which is how women are typically judged. She even feels that Bardia and the Fox work better with her because they treat her like a fellow man. It seems, then, that in exercising her masculinity, she also represses her femininity, particularly her ability to feel emotion. In trying to kill the more feminine Orual, the Queen performs the opposite of the process that is seen as the ultimate feminine one—pregnancy. Her femininity withers, and instead of growing a life, she shrinks one to nothingness.

But the change of my quarters, and later changes (for I tried every side of the house) did no good. I discovered that there was no part of the palace from which the swinging of those chains could not be heard; at night, I mean, when the silence grows deep. It is a thing no one would have found out who was not always afraid of hearing one sound; and at the same time (that was Orual, Orual refusing to die) terribly afraid of not hearing it if for once—if possibly, at last, after ten thousand mockeries—it should be real, if Psyche had come back.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Related Symbols: The Chains in the Well
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual becomes Queen, she begins to be haunted by the sound of a girl crying outside, which she rationally knows is only the sound of chains creaking in the well. Part of her always hopes that it really is Psyche, returned from exile. Though she tries sleeping in all different parts of the palace, she can always hear the sound of the chains. The fact that she can’t escape it suggests that the sound really comes from within her, representing the guilt that she feels at having caused Psyche’s exile.

The Queen feels frightened of the sound because it forces her to consider parts of herself that she doesn’t want to acknowledge—particularly her own ability to cause such harm to someone she loves. The sound also prevents her from completely killing her old self, Orual, and becoming entirely the Queen. Orual still fiercely loves Psyche and feels the pain of her loss, so as long as the sound of Psyche’s crying tortures the Queen, Orual lives on within her and she must deal with the faults of her true character.

Part 2: Chapter 1 Quotes

Oh, Queen Orual, I begin to think you know nothing of love.... Perhaps you who spring from the gods love like the gods. Like the Shadowbrute. They say the loving and the devouring are all one, don’t they? ...You’re full fed. Gorged with other men’s lives, women’s too: Bardia’s, mine, the Fox’s, your sister’s—both your sisters’.

Related Characters: Ansit (speaker), Orual (The Queen), Psyche (Istral), Redival, The Fox, Bardia, The god of the Grey Mountain (the Brute/the Shadowbrute)
Related Symbols: Ungit
Page Number: 264-65
Explanation and Analysis:

When the Queen is visiting Ansit after Bardia’s death, Ansit accuses her of devouring the lives of everyone she’s ever loved. She speculates that, since the royal family is supposed to have divine blood, the Queen loves in a similar way to the gods. In the Great Offering in which Psyche was sacrificed, the Priest of Ungit said that the Shadowbrute would both lie with and devour Psyche, and now Ansit likens Orual’s love to that of the Shadowbrute.

The Shadowbrute is linked to Ungit, who is also associated with this devouring love. Later, the Queen will see herself as Ungit due to the similar way of loving that Ansit perceives here—in this circumstance, the Queen will also wonder if people might see her as the Shadowbrute, which confirms the truth of Ansit’s accusation. Ansit forces Orual to see a part of herself that she has long denied. Orual defines herself by her love for others, so she doesn’t want to acknowledge that her possessive love destroys the lives of those she loves. However, this is the essential self-realization that she must come to accept in order to fulfill the god’s prophecy and become purified.

Part 2: Chapter 3 Quotes

But to steal her love from me! ...Do you think that we mortals will find you gods easier to bear if you’re beautiful? I tell you that if that’s true we’ll find you a thousand times worse. For then (I know what beauty does) you’ll lure and entice. You’ll leave us nothing; nothing that’s worth our keeping or your taking. Those we love best—whoever’s most worth loving—those are the very ones you’ll pick out.... It would be far better for us if you were foul and ravening. We’d rather you drank their blood than stole their hearts. We’d rather they were ours and dead than yours and made immortal.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

When Orual comes in a vision to the divine court in the mountains, she reads her complaint against the gods before a judge. However, she finds that what she reads isn’t what she wrote; in fact, she reads the truth of her motivations that she has concealed from herself for her entire life.

Orual’s speech here explains her jealousy and resentment of the gods when they took Psyche from her. She knows that as a mortal, she can hardly hope to compete with the gods for Psyche’s love. In fact, the more beautiful the gods are, the more mortals will hate them. Orual can’t stand the fact that Psyche was happy to go to the gods and that she was happier with her divine lover than she was with Orual. Orual would rather have retained complete possession of Psyche than have Psyche become loyal to someone else, but the gods’ beauty made this entirely impossible.

This passage also seems to have echoes of Lewis’s own conversion to Christianity. He converted reluctantly, only when he could see no other truth. Here, he suggests that people resent their loved ones’ faith because God is far better and more fulfilling than any human can ever be.

Part 2: Chapter 4 Quotes

Each breath I drew let into me new terror, joy, overpowering sweetness. I was pierced through and through with the arrows of it. I was being unmade. I was no one. But that’s little to say; rather, Psyche, herself was, in a manner, no one. I loved her as I would once have thought it impossible to love, would have died any death for her. And yet, it was not, not now, that she really counted. Or if she counted... it was for another’s sake. The earth and stars and sun, all that was or will be, existed for his sake. And he was coming. The most dreadful, the most beautiful, the only dread and beauty there is, was coming.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Psyche (Istral)
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

Orual and Psyche finally meet in Psyche’s palace when she returns from completing the tasks the gods have set her as punishment. Psyche has become a goddess, and Orual has recognized all her own faults. Then the god comes to judge her, apparently to decide whether she has purified herself of the influence of Ungit and can become like Psyche, just as he prophesied when he exiled Psyche.

Orual has always seen herself as the center of the universe, interpreting anything she didn’t like as a human or a god showing their dislike or lack of appreciation for her. Now, in her more purified state, she can recognize that she is nothing in comparison to the god. In fact, even Psyche, whom she reveres as perfection itself, is nothing in comparison to the god. Furthermore, Orual finally loves Psyche in a way she never has, a way that does not try to possess Psyche but instead sees her as an independent and superior being.

This scene can be described as a theophany, meaning a moment in which a god appears to a mortal. The complete ecstasy of this theophany suggests that Lewis is bringing his story into a more Christian frame at the end. Though Glome exists in a polytheistic world (meaning that there are multiple gods), Christianity is a monotheistic religion, meaning that it teaches that only one true God exists. Here, Orual seems to anticipate the appearance of a single God around whom everything in the world centers. She calls him “the only dread and beauty there is,” which suggests that no other god exists. She feels complete faith and love for him. Orual experiences conversion to a monotheistic faith.

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Psyche (Istral) Character Timeline in Till We Have Faces

The timeline below shows where the character Psyche (Istral) appears in Till We Have Faces. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 2
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
The King names his baby daughter Istra. Orual knows that in Greek, the name is Psyche. There are babies all over the... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Orual takes on the raising of Psyche, finding her a nurse and having both of them constantly in her chamber. The Fox... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Psyche’s beauty is natural and astonishing once an onlooker leaves her presence. She seems to be... (full context)
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
The King now completely trusts the Fox, who often brings Orual and Psyche to a hilltop where they can see all across Glome and the Grey Mountain. Psyche... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 3
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
...to stay with Orual and the Fox, Redival grows irritable. She even gets angry with Psyche, and when she hits Psyche one day, Orual attacks Redival. Orual’s happy time has ended. (full context)
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
...The harvest is poor and the King fails in his attempts to remarry. One day, Psyche and Redival wander off through the gardens while Orual and the Fox are studying philosophy.... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Orual discovers that Psyche has had similar encounters in the past, and she fears that the gods will be... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Psyche nurses the Fox back to health, getting angry if anyone tries to stop her. Gossip... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Dressed in finery, Psyche goes out the palace gates, and the people fall silent and kneel in response to... (full context)
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
The next day, Psyche falls ill with the fever, talking in her delirium of her imagined palace on the... (full context)
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
...anyone, but Redival assures her that no one cares about her now that they’ve seen Psyche. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 4
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Orual has known little about the people until now. Their love of Psyche comforts her somewhat; even if Ungit might be angry, the Priest of Ungit would probably... (full context)
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
...finds Redival returning with Batta from visiting the house of Ungit. Redival makes fun of Psyche being regarded as a goddess and reveals that she saw her alone in the city.... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Orual watches the city, waiting for Psyche to return, and the city begins to look like an enemy. When Psyche comes home,... (full context)
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Orual is angry at the people and insists the King must know. Psyche soothes her, saying she looks like the King when she gets angry. Orual is hurt,... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 5
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...and Orual is ashamed to see the King’s relief. She thought he was fighting for Psyche, but, in fact, he has only been defending himself the whole time. The Priest proclaims... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 6
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...could, and then offer the King of Phars the crown itself if he would save Psyche. He would lose his own life to save her. He suggests that they fight, since... (full context)
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...die to save him, but he only threatens to beat her again. He says that Psyche is his girl, and he has the right to do with her as he likes.... (full context)
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Orual stands and asks that she be sacrificed in Psyche’s place. The King then leads her to a huge mirror on the other side of... (full context)
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...Redival. Redival seeks comfort, but Orual leaves her. She blames Redival for spreading word about Psyche to the house of Ungit. Even if Redival is sorry now, Orual knows she won’t... (full context)
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Orual is injured from the King’s beatings, but she goes to the room where Psyche has been imprisoned. Bardia is guarding the door and says he can’t let Orual in,... (full context)
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...he decides to let her in, saying that he would die if it would save Psyche. Even though he’s captain of the guard, he wouldn’t let anyone else guard her door,... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 7
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There is only one small, high window in the room where Psyche is held. She sits on a bed with a lamp, and Orual throws herself upon... (full context)
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Psyche smiles and sits tall, frightening Orual. Psyche reminds her sister that the Fox always told... (full context)
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Orual weeps in Psyche’s lap, wishing Psyche would cry in hers instead. Psyche says that because they have divine... (full context)
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When Psyche calms down, she says that the Priest of Ungit has visited her. She wonders if... (full context)
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Even though Orual would die for Psyche, she feels angry with her for being so calm and seeming not to mind saying... (full context)
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Desperately, Orual asks whether Psyche even cares that she’s leaving Orual behind, and wonders if she ever loved her. Psyche... (full context)
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Psyche admits, to Orual’s dismay, that she has always almost wanted death. Orual thinks this means... (full context)
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Psyche points out that she’s going to the Mountain, where she always dreamed of a palace.... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 8
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Outside Psyche’s prison chamber, Orual begins to feel her injuries. She plans to go to the Mountain... (full context)
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...Outside, she hears singing and the noise of a large crowd. Orual struggles to see Psyche, but it’s worse when she does. She’s been made to look like a temple girl,... (full context)
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...on some kind of work and never to love. In Orual’s hallucinations, she imagines that Psyche is her enemy, excluding her from children’s games or stealing an imagined husband away from... (full context)
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...has left, and the animals are returning. Furthermore, the people now adore the King. When Psyche was sacrificed, he grieved very publicly but said he had to let it happen for... (full context)
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...he still believes that Ungit doesn’t exist. Orual thinks the changes in Glome immediately after Psyche’s sacrifice prove she does, but the Fox insists it was a coincidence. Orual reminds him... (full context)
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...had been delayed a few days, Glome’s fortune would have changed on its own and Psyche wouldn’t have died. The Fox finds comfort in the fact that Psyche went to her... (full context)
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...to. Orual intends to go to the Mountain and see if there’s anything left of Psyche that she can burn or bury. The Fox approves of the idea, but says Orual... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 9
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...he won’t make her do work for him. The King speaks as though he loved Psyche very much, and now he’s left with the two daughters he hates. (full context)
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...she doesn’t know what she’ll do afterwards. It seems that once she has dealt with Psyche’s remains, the part of her life with Psyche in it will be entirely gone. She... (full context)
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...better. She proved she had a natural talent for fighting when she attacked him outside Psyche’s door, and he offers to teach her how to use a sword. Orual doesn’t see... (full context)
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...been this way before, and she sees dawn coming. They pass the road by which Psyche was taken, but they take a shorter way, riding up to a ridge. On top... (full context)
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...continue on, she tells herself she can’t feel this way as she’s about to bury Psyche, because it makes it seem that she doesn’t love her. She knows too much of... (full context)
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...the valley on foot and climb towards the Tree. Orual fears that she won’t find Psyche’s remains. When they reach the Tree, they find chains hanging from it, but nothing else. (full context)
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Bardia says that the god must have taken Psyche, because no animal would have been able to get her whole body out of the... (full context)
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...from a stream when she hears two people cry out and looks up to see Psyche standing on the other side. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 10
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Orual laughs and cries with joy until Bardia warns her that it could be Psyche’s ghost, but then he exclaims that she is a goddess. Orual feels no fear of... (full context)
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...confusion of happiness. They sit down together, and, seeing that Orual is short of breath, Psyche brings her some berries in a leaf and spring water in her hands. She speaks... (full context)
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When Psyche was taken from the palace, she was in a foggy state of mind due to... (full context)
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...that she hurry so they can plan for the future and get to safety, but Psyche insists that they are safe, and she is home. (full context)
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When everyone finally left Psyche at the Tree, all was still and she was thirsty. She realized that she couldn’t... (full context)
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The only thing that comforted Psyche was a vague thought of the Fox’s philosophy about the divine mixed with the Priest... (full context)
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Psyche assures Orual that she was awake. West-wind was in a human shape, but as different... (full context)
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Orual thinks it all must have been a dream, but Psyche insists that everything before the sacrifice feels more like a dream now. When West-wind set... (full context)
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Psyche was afraid and ashamed, but went inside. She heard women’s voices welcoming her, and though... (full context)
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Orual bursts out that if all Psyche says is true, everything she’s believed is false. She wants to see the palace. Psyche... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 11
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Orual and Psyche stand like enemies about to fight, watching each other. Orual is trying to write the... (full context)
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Psyche thinks that Orual does see the palace, and Orual becomes angry like her father the... (full context)
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Psyche then becomes sad and understands that Orual truly can’t see the palace. Psyche’s complete belief... (full context)
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Orual feels horrible grief at this new distance between herself and Psyche. For a moment she thinks that the gods should have Psyche because she is worthy... (full context)
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Orual had forgotten about the god, and now she begins to hate him as Psyche talks of him like she’s a young wife. When Psyche reminds Orual that the god... (full context)
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Psyche admits that she has not seen the god, because he only comes to her in... (full context)
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Psyche again assures Orual that the god will make everything all right, but Orual snarls that... (full context)
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Orual reiterates her desire for Psyche to return to her, but Psyche insists that Orual must come to her instead. Orual... (full context)
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Orual commands Psyche to obey her. Psyche says that she now must obey her husband. Orual begins to... (full context)
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Psyche regrets Orual’s anger and wishes they could have feasted together, but she knows that Orual... (full context)
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Once Orual has crossed the river, she begs again for Psyche to come with her. Psyche says that she can’t because she’s now a wife, but... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 12
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...sees a huge palace, incredibly beautiful and entirely dark. Somewhere inside, she thinks, something holds Psyche in its arms, and Orual wonders if it will punish her. She knows she must... (full context)
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...out of the way of the gods by acting piously. Orual asks whether he thinks Psyche is mad or the palace is real, and Bardia is sure she isn’t mad, but... (full context)
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...certain of the situation, and she thinks that everyone in Glome would agree with him. Psyche was given to the Shadowbrute, and it ended Glome’s problems. Something godlike and disgusting is... (full context)
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Orual touches her sword hilt. Before the sacrifice, she swore that she would kill Psyche rather than let a monster have her. Now she swears it again and cries. Doubting... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 13
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When Orual reaches her chamber, the Fox is waiting for her, and she tells him Psyche is alive. She bathes and eats, and then welcomes him to her table. He is... (full context)
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...her vision of the palace, but decides he wouldn’t take it seriously. She suggests that Psyche’s lover might also be a delusion, but the Fox argues that someone must have freed... (full context)
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The Fox points out that Psyche will get pregnant soon, which makes Orual want to torture Psyche’s lover to death. She... (full context)
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Orual can’t think how to convince Psyche to leave the Mountain besides using force, but the Fox points out that they have... (full context)
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Orual says she feels responsible for Psyche, and she will do anything to get her away from the man who has trapped... (full context)
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...anything, and they’re easily distracted. She feels that no one but she really cares about Psyche. She must make a plan herself. She must guess the answer to the riddle, and... (full context)
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...realizes that this doesn’t matter, because both men think that something bad has control of Psyche. Orual herself is the only one who ever imagined that Psyche’s husband might be something... (full context)
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Orual must get Psyche away. Suddenly she remembers how happy Psyche looked in the valley, and she again feels... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 14
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Orual feels very sure about her task. She crosses the river and calls for Psyche, who comes immediately. The sisters look like two faces of love—Psyche joyful, Orual the bearer... (full context)
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The two women sit down, and Psyche remarks on Orual’s angry expression. Orual asks her not to be critical, because they have... (full context)
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...people sometimes have to hurt the ones they love, and that she’s about to hurt Psyche, but Psyche is too young to make her own decisions. Psyche insists that her husband... (full context)
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Psyche is silent. When Orual tries to comfort her, Psyche says she is angry, but she... (full context)
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Psyche is surprised that the Fox even believes in the Brute. Orual didn’t say he did,... (full context)
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Orual says that if Psyche is so sure of herself, she shouldn’t be afraid to test her claim. Orual shows... (full context)
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Psyche says that Orual doesn’t know much about love. Orual retorts that if Psyche wants to... (full context)
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The sun is setting, and Orual’s time is running out. She commands Psyche to obey her, but Psyche tells her that she no longer has to do so.... (full context)
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Psyche says that Orual only has power over her through the threat of suicide, not murder.... (full context)
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Psyche will only swear because she has faith that her husband will be more understanding than... (full context)
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Orual wants to take everything back, but instead she offers her dagger for Psyche to swear on. Psyche says her happiness might be destroyed by sunrise, but Orual has... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 15
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...When she comes to, she drinks water and realizes that she left her food with Psyche. She wishes Bardia were there with her instead of Gram. She waits by the river,... (full context)
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However, Orual can’t help fearing that she might have done wrong. She imagines Psyche lost and in despair, all because of Orual. Orual often has the urge to cross... (full context)
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...is painful. She realizes she might die as a result of this night. She imagines Psyche mourning her death, and everyone else showing their love for her now that she’s dead.... (full context)
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...and the river rapidly floods as torrential rains fall. Orual thinks this means she was right—Psyche’s husband is something horrible that is now enraged. Even if it kills them both, Psyche... (full context)
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...else is silent as the god speaks in a voice without anger. He says that Psyche must go into exile, and Orual will know herself and see what she does, and... (full context)
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When dawn comes, the valley is completely ruined. Orual calls for Psyche again and again, but she knows that Psyche has gone into exile. Orual finds Gram,... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 16
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...the Mountain, but hides her wound from him, knowing he wouldn’t approve of her coercing Psyche the way she did. She accidentally reveals her anger with him for going to sleep... (full context)
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Orual tells the Fox only that a storm flooded the valley and she heard Psyche leaving Glome. Eventually he forces her to admit to her plan with the lamp. He... (full context)
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The Fox asks how Orual convinced Psyche to go through with the plan. Orual knows that if she admits that she told... (full context)
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...almost disappointed to find that she continues to live her same old life. She makes Psyche’s room look as it did in their happy days. When she finds a hymn to... (full context)
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...drive her feminine parts away. Sometimes at night, she gives in to her despair about Psyche and weeps, wondering where she is, but afterwards she becomes stony again. Bardia teaches her... (full context)
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...always waiting to hear. She goes outside in pursuit of the noise and calls for Psyche, but soon she realizes that it was only the chains of the well swinging in... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 17
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...Pillar Room to get away from the King and sends Trunia to the room where Psyche was kept before the sacrifice. (full context)
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...has to fight, and imagines everyone being ashamed of her. They would all think that Psyche was better than Orual, both in beauty and bravery. She insists to herself that Psyche... (full context)
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Orual realizes that she’s thinking the way she did when she was sick and Psyche seemed like her enemy. She begins to think the gods have sent Argan to kill... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 18
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...only liked her because he had no one else. In fact, she thinks, he loved Psyche better. But part of Orual knows this isn’t true. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 19
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Nobles wait at the palace gate to accompany the party. Orual thinks of Psyche going this way to heal the people and then to be sacrificed. She wonders if... (full context)
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...She wonders if Bardia acts that way, which brings on loneliness for both him and Psyche. She wishes she could have married Bardia and had Psyche as their daughter. She discovers... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 20
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...but she’s also scared of not hearing it, in case one day it will be Psyche. However, she knows that if Psyche were alive and wanted to return, she already would... (full context)
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...the sound, but for a while she’s tormented by dreams that she has walled up Psyche or Orual. The dreams eventually end, and the next year she defeats the kingdom of... (full context)
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...ages, he strays from philosophy towards beauty and poetry. Sometimes he mistakes the Queen for Psyche or other people. (full context)
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...writes Greek verses for his gravestone. He is buried behind the pear trees, where he, Psyche, and Orual were happy. Life goes on until the Queen decides she’s sick of seeing... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 21
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...gives, inquiring as to the name of the goddess. The priest says she is called Istra. This is a common name, so the Queen doesn’t react. The priest of Istra explains... (full context)
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The priest of Istra tells the story as though he has often repeated it, and the Queen realizes that... (full context)
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...it as she would have been in the past. She asks how the priest of Istra came to hear this story, but he’s confused and says only that it’s the sacred... (full context)
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The Queen asks the priest of Istra why the sisters wanted to get Istra away from the god if they had seen... (full context)
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...the gods would use such a debasing lie by saying that she was jealous of Psyche. The priest speaks of Istra weeping, and the Queen can almost hear it. He says... (full context)
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The Queen asks when Istra’s veil will be removed. The priest of Istra says they do it every spring, but... (full context)
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...she asks the reader to judge between her and the gods. They gave her only Psyche to love, and then took her away. Furthermore, they forced her to be responsible for... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1
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...she was lonely. She used to say that Orual loved her until the Fox and Psyche came, and then Orual stopped loving her. The Queen isn’t sure whether to believe him,... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 3
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...court, but not caring about any of it. Her only comfort is that she loved Psyche well, and the gods are at fault in that quarter. To revel in this, she... (full context)
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...god. She would have preferred if they were like Ungit; she would have preferred if Psyche had been eaten. It’s worse that the gods stole Psyche from Orual. Their beauty lures... (full context)
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Orual knows the gods will say she had enough signs that Psyche’s palace was real, but she didn’t want to acknowledge it. They’ll say she was jealous... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 4
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...sees a woman walking to a river and tying her ankles together. She realizes it’s Psyche. Orual is overcome by Psyche’s beauty, and cries out, “Do not do it.” She doesn’t.... (full context)
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The Fox asks whether Orual understands the pictures. She doesn’t see how Psyche could have been so happy, but the Fox says that Orual took on all of... (full context)
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On the final wall, Orual sees Psyche walking down into the earth. The Fox explains that everyone is born into the house... (full context)
Psyche encounters the people of Glome, who cry for her to become their goddess. Psyche ignores... (full context)
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Orual can’t believe she and the Fox did such awful things to Psyche in the name of love. The Fox says that as the gods become more beautiful,... (full context)
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Voices from outside announce that Psyche is approaching, bringing the casket of beauty from the land of the dead. The Fox... (full context)
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Psyche says Orual must stand up so that she can give her the casket to make... (full context)
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...courtyard, and everyone seems awed. They say that the god is coming to judge Orual. Psyche brings her to the edge of a pool as the air becomes bright. Orual feels... (full context)