Burial Rites

Agnes Magnúsdottir Character Analysis

Agnes is a prisoner who has been condemned to death for the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson. She is the daughter of Ingveldur, the sister of Jóas, and Natan’s former lover. For most of the novel, Agnes is held captive at Kornsá, a farm occupied by Margrét, Jón, and their daughters until her execution date. In the meantime, Reverend Tóti makes spiritual visits to Agnes per her request to help Agnes prepare for her death. Agnes, who is in her thirties, is known to be intelligent. She is also very superstitious and places a lot of importance on signs like ravens and dreams. Agnes suffered from a difficult childhood, during which her mother abandoned her and she experienced the traumatic death of her foster mother, Inga. As an adult, Agnes was seduced by and fell in love with Natan Ketilsson, who brought Agnes back to his farm to work for him. Their relationship turned toxic because of Natan’s manipulative personality. When Fridrik killed Pétur and fatally wounded Natan (because Natan was sleeping with Sigga), Agnes helped stabbed Natan with a knife to save him from drawn out suffering. Then Agnes helped Fridrik burn the farm. At the end of Burial Rites, Agnes is executed for her role in these murders.

Agnes Magnúsdottir Quotes in Burial Rites

The Burial Rites quotes below are all either spoken by Agnes Magnúsdottir or refer to Agnes Magnúsdottir. 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of Burial Rites published in 2014.
Prologue Quotes

I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames…fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me…I will vanish into the air and the night. They will blow us all out, one by one, until it is only their own light by which they see themselves. Where will I be then?

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 1 Quotes

As he traveled over the north peninsula with its thin lip of ocean on the horizon, the clouds began to clear and the soft red light of the late June sun flooded the pass…The dread that Tóti had felt so firmly lining his stomach dissipated as he fell into a quiet appreciation of the countryside before him.
We are all God’s children, he thought to himself. This woman is my sister in Jesus, and I, as her spiritual brother, must guide her home… “I will save her,” he whispered.

Page Number: 33
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Chapter 2 Quotes

How can I say what it was like to breathe again? I felt newborn. I staggered in the light of the world and took deep gulps of fresh sea air. It was late in the day: the wet mouth of the afternoon was full on my face. My soul blossomed in that brief moment as they led me out-of-doors. I fell, my skirts in the mud, and I turned my face upwards as if in prayer. I could have wept from the relief of light.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker)
Page Number: 35-36
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Cruel Birds, ravens, but wise. And creatures should be loved for their wisdom if they cannot be loved for kindness.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ravens
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
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What sort of woman kills men?
The only murderesses Margrét had known were the women in the sagas, and even then, it was with words that they had killed men; orders given to servants to slay lovers or avenge the death of kin. Those women murdered from a distance and kept their fingers clean. But these times are not saga times…This woman is not a saga woman.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir, Margrét
Page Number: 52
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Chapter 3 Quotes

I prefer a story to a prayer. They whipped me for that at this farm, Kornsá, once, when I was young and fostered out to watch over the home field. The farmer Björn did not like that I knew the sagas better than him. You’re better off keeping company with the sheep, Agnes. Books written by man, not God, are faithless friends and not for your kind.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Björn
Page Number: 69
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Chapter 4 Quotes

To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things…It’s not fair. People claim to know you through the things you’ve done, and not by sitting down and listening to you speak for yourself. No matter how much you try to live a godly life, if you make a mistake in this valley, it’s never forgotten…Who was she really?…she made mistakes and others made up their minds about her. People around here don’t let you forget your misdeeds. They think them the only things worth writing down.

Page Number: 103-104
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“No such thing as truth,” Agnes said, standing up. Tóti stood up also…“There is truth in God,” he said, earnestly, recognizing an opportunity to do his spiritual duty. “John, chapter eight, verse thirty-two: ‘And ye…’”
“‘Shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ Yes, I know. I know,” Agnes said. She bundled her knitting things together… “Not in my case, Reverend Thorvardur,” she called to him. “I’ve told the truth and you can see for yourself how it has served me.”

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jónsson (Tóti) (speaker)
Page Number: 105-106
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Chapter 5 Quotes

He built his church from wives’ tales and the secret language of weather; saw the blinking eye of God in the habits of the sea, the swooping merlin, the gnashing teeth of his ewes. When he caught me knitting on the doorstep he accused me of lengthening the winter. “Do not think nature is not watchful of us,” he warned me. “She is as awake as you and I.” He smiled at me. Passed the smooth breadth of his palm over my forehead. “And as secretive.”

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson (speaker)
Page Number: 114
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I’ll tell you something, Reverend Tóti. All my life people have thought I was too clever…That’s exactly why they don’t pity me. Because they think I’m too smart… to get caught up in this by accident. But Sigga is dumb and pretty and young, and that is why they don’t want to see her die…They see I’ve got a head on my shoulders, and believe a thinking woman cannot be trusted. Believe there’s no room for innocence. And like it or not, Reverend, that is the truth of it.

Page Number: 126
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Chapter 6 Quotes

I explained that I had begun to dig a grave for Mamma. Uncle Ragnar frowned and told me I shouldn’t call her Mamma, and wasn’t I ashamed of myself, thinking to bury her near the doorstep where everyone would tread on her, and not in the holy ground of a churchyard.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Inga, Uncle Ragnar
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

“Why not Sigga?” Tóti asked in a small voice.
Blöndal shook his head. “The maid of sixteen who burst into tears as soon as I summoned her? Sigga didn’t even attempt to lie—she is too simple-minded, too young to know how. She told me everything. How Agnes hated Natan, how Agnes was jealous of his attentions to her. Sigga is not bright, but she saw that much.”

Page Number: 161
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Tóti nodded, and slowly picked up the swan feather… “You mean to make an example of her,” he said quietly.
“I mean to deliver God’s justice here on earth,” Blöndal said, frowning. “I mean to honor the authorities who have appointed me by fulfilling my duty as a lawkeeper.”
…“I hear that you have appointed Gudmundur Ketilsson as executioner.”
…“I do not have to explain my decisions to you, Reverend. I am not accountable to parish priests. I am accountable to Denmark. To the King…We are not her to discuss my performance. We are here to discuss yours.”

Page Number: 164-165
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When I was sixteen years old I dreamt that I was walking barefoot in a lava field…In every direction there was nothing but rock and snow, and great chasms and crack in the ground…Just when I thought I would die from fear, a young man appeared …and even though I was still terrified, I had his hand in mine, and it was a comfort. Then suddenly, in my dream, I felt the ground give way beneath my feet…and I fell into a chasm…I was dropped into the earth, buried in silence, and it was unbearable, and then I woke.

Page Number: 175
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She said Natan had started giving himself some airs, calling himself Lyngdal, not Ketilsson, though neither of us could work out why—it was a strange sort of name to have, not Icelandic in the slightest. María thought it was probably to make himself out to be a Dane, and I wondered that he was allowed to change his name at all. María told me that men might do as they please, and that they are all Adams, naming everything under the sun.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson, María Jónsdóttir
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

“What’s the name for the space between stars?”
“No such name.”
“Make one up.”
I thought about it. “The soul asylum.”
“That’s another way of saying heaven, Agnes.”
“No, Natan. It’s not.”

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson (speaker)
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

Agnes Jónsdóttir. I never thought it could be that easy to name yourself…Let everyone know whose bastard I truly am. Agnes Jónsdóttir. She sounds like the woman I should have been…She could even be the sister of Sigurlaug and Steinvör Jónsdóttir. Margrét’s daughter. Born blessed under a marriage. Born into a family that would not be ripped apart by poverty. Agnes Jónsdóttir would not have been so foolish as to love a man who spent his life opening veins, mouths, legs…She would have been assured of a place in heaven. She would have believed in heaven.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Jón of Brekkukot
Page Number: 221
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“What do you do with the kit after you kill its parents?”
“Some hunters leave it there to die. They are no use for market— the skins are too small.”
“What do you do?”
“I stove their heads in with a rock.”
“That is the only decent thing to do.”
“Yes. To leave them is cruelty.”

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson (speaker)
Page Number: 221-222
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

What else is God good for other than a distraction from the mire we’re all stranded in? We’re all shipwrecked. All beached in a peat bog of poverty. When was the last time I even attended church? Not while I was at Illugastadir…Perhaps things would have been different if Natan had let me go to church at Tjörn. I might have made friends there. I might have met a family to turn to when it all became twisted…But he didn’t let me go, and there was no other friend, no light to head towards in that wintered landscape.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson
Page Number: 236
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Where would I have gone? I knew only the valley of Vatnsdalur; knew where it was scabbed with rock, knew the white-headed mountains and the lake alive with swans, and the wrinkled skins of turf by the river. And the ravens, the constant, circling ravens. But Illugastadir was different. I had no friends. I didn’t understand the landscape. Only the outlying tongues of rock scarred the perfect kiss of sea and sky— there was no one and nothing else. There was nowhere else to go.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Natan Ketilsson
Related Symbols: Ravens
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

“Thórbjörg had an inkling of what Fridrik planned. She knew about some sheep Fridrik stole. She lied to the courtroom…Thórbjörg saved my life,” Agnes added after a moment’s pause. “She found me on her doorstep after Natan threw me out. I would have died had she not brought me inside and let me stay there.”
Margrét nodded. “No one is all bad.”

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Margrét (speaker), Fridrik Sigurdsson, Thórbjörg
Page Number: 259
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 12 Quotes

“Admit it. You want this too, Agnes.”
At that point…I saw what Fridrik held in his hands. It was a hammer and a knife.
What do I remember? I didn’t believe him. I went back to my bed on the floor of the cowshed, suddenly weary. I wanted nothing to do with him. What happened?

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Fridrik Sigurdsson (speaker), Natan Ketilsson
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

I am crying and my mouth is open and filled with something, it is choking me and I spit it out. On the ground is a stone, and I look back at Margrét, and see that she did not notice. “The stone was in my mouth,” I say.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Margrét, Ingveldur Rafnsdóttir
Related Symbols: Agnes’s Mother’s Stone
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Will they drown me?” I ask, and someone shakes her head. It is Lauga. “Agnes,” she says, and I say, “That is the first time you have called me by my name,” and that is it, she collapses as though I have stabbed her in the stomach.

Related Characters: Agnes Magnúsdottir (speaker), Lauga Jónsdóttir (speaker)
Page Number: 307-308
Explanation and Analysis:
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Agnes Magnúsdottir Character Timeline in Burial Rites

The timeline below shows where the character Agnes Magnúsdottir appears in Burial Rites. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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...opens with a prologue in the first-person. It later becomes clear that the narrator is Agnes Magnúsdottir. She describes her condemnation to death. She then imagines that all people are “candle-flames”... (full context)
Chapter 1
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...on Natan’s farm. Eventually, one man and two women Fridrik Sigurdsson, Sigrídur Gudmundsdóttir (Sigga), and Agnes Magnúsdottir, were charged with the murders and sentenced to death. (full context)
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The convicts are being held in the north, and one of them, Agnes Magnúsdottir, is being moved from Stóra-Borg to Kornsá. Agnes has requested Tóti for spiritual guidance,... (full context)
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...Tóti returns to the other room and tells the messenger that he will meet with Agnes. The messenger is shocked when he hears Agnes’s name, and jokes that Tóti is too... (full context)
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The chapter changes to the first person narrative of Agnes. Agnes wonders whether she is already dead. She is in a storeroom and the air... (full context)
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...bursts into the room and tells them that they will have to house the criminal Agnes Magnúsdottir. (full context)
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Steina’s news horrifies Margrét, as they all know that Agnes was convicted of murder. Lauga is angry with Steina for interrupting her plan to tell... (full context)
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Several hours later, Jón returns to Kornsá. He confirms that Agnes will be moved to Kornsá. Jón explains that, as a District Officer, he is obligated... (full context)
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The narrative then switches to Agnes’s first person perspective as she describes her poor treatment in the days before she is... (full context)
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...person, which now follows Tóti as he leaves church. He accepted Blöndal’s offer to visit Agnes a month ago, and has lived in self-doubt ever since. As Tóti walks through the... (full context)
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...Jón tells him that only he knows, but that since he has agreed to help Agnes he must. When Tóti asks his father if he will pray for him, Reverend Jón... (full context)
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Tóti prepares his horse and rides towards Kornsá, rehearsing what he will say to Agnes and dreading the impending encounter. As he takes in the Icelandic landscape’s beauty, Tóti feels... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Chapter Two begins with an entry from the Undirfell Ministerial Book, stating where Agnes was born, at what age she was confirmed, and proclaiming that she had an excellent... (full context)
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The narrative then returns to Agnes’s first person perspective as she describes her transfer to Kornsá. An officer of the court... (full context)
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Agnes notices that a crowd has gathered to look at her, and she thinks about how... (full context)
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Agnes and her guards begin their journey across the Icelandic landscape to Kornsá. Agnes is happy... (full context)
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Agnes hears the caws of ravens and thinks that, although they are cruel birds, they are... (full context)
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A man rides up next to Agnes and tells her that she is going to be held at Kornsá until her execution.... (full context)
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...describe Tóti standing in the doorway with Margrét, watching the group of riders arrive with Agnes. Tóti asks if Lauga and Steina will join them. Margrét reiterates how much she does... (full context)
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...the edge of the homestead, dismounts, and greets Margrét and Tóti. He tells Margrét that Agnes will not cause any trouble, and they will stay there that night to make sure... (full context)
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The narrative returns to Agnes’s first person perspective as she describes watching her accompanying officer talk with the people at... (full context)
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...lung problems. Margrét’s persistent, worsening cough worries her. One of the officers goes to fetch Agnes from where she is tied up, and Margrét, who has not yet really met Agnes,... (full context)
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Margrét sends the guard away and steers Agnes into the kitchen, where she tells Agnes to take off her dirty clothes and wash... (full context)
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...care of his horse, Tóti walks to the church and reflects on his meeting with Agnes. He remembers how dirty, beaten, and sick she looked, and berates himself for wanting to... (full context)
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...officer who was supposed to stay awake and protect them. Margrét looks over at where Agnes is sleeping and silently mouths her name, thinking it feels wrong to call her by... (full context)
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Margrét, still in bed, thinks of her former servants, imagining them killing her like Agnes killed Natan. She thinks of Lauga’s belief that murderers have outward marks of evil (harelips,... (full context)
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Margrét thinks of how dirty Agnes’s body looked as she had helped her wash the previous night. Despite herself, Margrét had... (full context)
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...and annoyance. Margrét gets up to prepare breakfast, and as she does she glances at Agnes again. Agnes, to Margrét’s surprise, is staring at her. (full context)
Chapter 3
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Chapter Three opens with a document from the Supreme Court trials of Agnes’s case in 1829. The document states the allegation that Fridrik, Agnes, and Sigga entered Natan’s... (full context)
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The narrative then resumes Agnes’s first person perspective as she describes how at Kornsá, she has dreamed for the first... (full context)
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Agnes thinks of happy memories of her mother to try to counteract her sadness, but the... (full context)
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Margrét then asks Agnes about her work experience as a servant and whether she can do household tasks and... (full context)
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Margrét quickly tells Agnes to go into the house. When Snaebjörn gets closer, he greets Margrét. Snaebjörn tells Margrét... (full context)
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Margrét tells Róslín that Agnes has been placed in their care. Róslín says that she actually came by because she... (full context)
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...thinks that they deserved to die, and Margrét says of course not. Róslín then says Agnes is rumored to be the worst of the murderers, and the mastermind. (full context)
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...about the murders, Margrét wishes that she would leave. Róslín continues to talk dramatically about Agnes and to ask Margrét probing questions, clearly hoping to get a glimpse of her, as... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person perspective as she, having been sent back to the badstofa by Margrét, sees... (full context)
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Agnes stumbles to her bed and looks around the room, which needs repair. She wonders if... (full context)
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The traditional furniture and everyday objects in the room make Agnes think of the stone that her mother Ingveldur gave her. Ingveldur said the stone would... (full context)
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Agnes tries to reconcile herself with the idea that she will spend her last days in... (full context)
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Agnes notices a silver brooch hidden under the bed across from her. She picks it up,... (full context)
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...doesn’t have to do that, and commands him to get to Kornsá to talk with Agnes. (full context)
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The narrative moves back to Agnes’s first person perspective. Agnes and Margrét milk sheep together and then burn Agnes’s old dress,... (full context)
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Margrét and Agnes go to do work in the herb garden to escape the smoke of the burning... (full context)
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Steina tells Agnes that she thinks they met once before, while they were both travelling. She remembers that... (full context)
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...still in third person, cuts to Tóti, who, having arrived at Kornsá, is sitting with Agnes outside the house and asking if they should begin their session with prayer. Agnes says... (full context)
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Agnes tells Tóti that they have met before, but Tóti is confused because he doesn’t remember... (full context)
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...chases them away. Tóti takes a breath and recites a rehearsed speech about how, if Agnes does want him for a spiritual advisor, he will come visit her and guide her... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to the first person as Agnes describes the rest of her day doing garden work alongside Margrét. They work silently, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...Kornsá, feeling unsuccessful. He intends to write a letter to Blöndal relinquishing his responsibilities with Agnes, but he is too embarrassed, and so does not write for two weeks. One night,... (full context)
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...cow, Tóti thinks about his father’s comment and wonders what he could possibly do for Agnes and why she asked for him specifically. Tóti ultimately realizes that Agnes, having no one,... (full context)
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Dagga asks what brings Tóti to the area. Tóti explains that he is Agnes’s priest and that he has come to the place where she was born to learn... (full context)
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...around” Steina. Reverend Pétur heaves the record book onto the altar. He asks how old Agnes is, telling Tóti he has only been the priest in that parish for one year,... (full context)
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The two men find Agnes’s entry in the record book. Tóti takes interest in the fact that Agnes’s parents were... (full context)
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Tóti hears Agnes say his name as she enters the room to get her knitting. Tóti implores Agnes... (full context)
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Tóti asks Agnes how she likes being at Kornsá. Agnes says the family tolerates her. Tóti tells Agnes... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person perspective as she remembers how, at her trial, the interrogators manipulated her words... (full context)
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...hay together. Jón says a prayer and then assigns the groups to cut together, putting Agnes and Kristín with two hired farmhands Gudmundur and Bjarni. When Gudmundur hands the scythe over... (full context)
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The narrative changes to the first person as Agnes describes falling into a rhythm when she cuts hay. She enjoys the feeling, which resembles... (full context)
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...describing Tóti riding to Kornsá the next morning. He passes Blöndal’s house and wonders how Agnes felt during her trial there. When Tóti arrives at Kornsá, he greets Jón, who is... (full context)
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The narrative jumps to Tóti and Agnes sitting next to the stream near Kornsá, because Agnes prefers to talk outside. Agnes begins... (full context)
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Tóti asks about Agnes’s father, and Agnes tells him that her real father was Jón of Brekkukot, but that... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person perspective as she thinks that Tóti’s attempt to learn about her in the... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Chapter Five opens with a poem that Rósa writes to Agnes in June of 1828, in which Rósa tells Agnes not to be surprised by her... (full context)
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...friend and neighbor Ingibjörg Pétursdóttir, stacking wood and talking about what it’s like to have Agnes living in Margrét’s house. They laugh at Róslín’s gossip about Agnes and her theatrical concern... (full context)
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...then asks about Lauga and Steina. Margrét tells Ingibjörg that Steina thinks she has met Agnes before, and she worries that Steina has started smiling at Agnes and acting friendly toward... (full context)
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The story switches back to Agnes’s first person narration as she describes dreaming about crawling through the snow to her own... (full context)
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Agnes had begun to think of herself as a servant in the Kornsá household, but the... (full context)
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Agnes remembers moving with Ingveldur from farm to farm in her early childhood. One of these... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to the third person as Steina, now awake, finds Agnes outside emptying the chamber pot. Steina stays to keep Agnes company, but Agnes worries that... (full context)
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Steina wants to make a petition or an appeal to help Agnes, and tells her that Blöndal made an appeal to commute Sigga’s sentence. Agnes, shocked and... (full context)
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When Steina enters the house, Margrét asks where she has been, thinking, at first, that Agnes has hurt her. Then Steina tells Margrét that Agnes is by the river and needs... (full context)
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The perspective changes to Agnes’s first-person narrative. She is sitting on the bed waiting while Margrét, Jón, Lauga, and Steina... (full context)
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...house and who has just received a letter from Jón asking him to come see Agnes. Tóti leaves for Kornsá over Reverend Jón’s objections. By the time Tóti gets close, he... (full context)
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The two men ride together the rest of the way to Kornsá, where Tóti finds Agnes handcuffed and in bed. He asks Agnes what happened and Agnes tells him about Sigga’s... (full context)
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Margrét, Lauga, Steina, and Kristín enter the badstofa to talk amongst themselves while Tóti and Agnes converse. Margrét removes Agnes’s handcuffs at Tóti’s request. Once the other women are distracted, Tóti... (full context)
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Tóti asks Agnes if there is anyone from her past that he can bring to talk with her.... (full context)
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...notices that the other women have stopped knitting to listen. He changes the subject to Agnes’s siblings so Agnes will calm down. Agnes says she only saw Helga a few times... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Chapter Six begins with a clerical record of Agnes and Sigga’s possessions at the time of their imprisonment. The list includes clothing, books, knitting... (full context)
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The narrative then returns to Agnes’s first-person perspective as she begins to tell Tóti about Inga’s death. It was winter. Agnes... (full context)
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...Inga, not feeling well, stayed in the badstofa. Björn went to check on her while Agnes made porridge. Agnes peeped outside and saw a storm fast approaching. The blizzard struck, and... (full context)
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Agnes, little Kjartan, and the infant huddled together as the room grew colder and colder. Agnes... (full context)
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Agnes threw a fit, screaming that she wanted to die. Björn, meanwhile, sat with his head... (full context)
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Agnes, back in the present, wants to ask Tóti if she is now going to be... (full context)
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The narrative switches to the third person as Tóti asks what happened next. Agnes tells him that after Inga died and the storm ended, the farmhand was sent to... (full context)
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...Björn’s brother passed around a flask. The farmhand fetched a priest, and Aunt Rósa told Agnes a story while the men talked with him. The men carried Inga’s body to the... (full context)
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One day in the early spring, Agnes was in a bad mood and she went outside, picked up a shovel, and tried... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person in the present as she wakes the next day. She thinks someone whispered... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...Blöndal to Tóti, asking to meet with him next week to deliver a report on Agnes’s spiritual progress. (full context)
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...dismisses Karitas and brings Tóti to his study. Tóti begins to give his report on Agnes and Blöndal expresses surprise that Tóti uses Agnes’s Christian name. When Tóti tells Blöndal that... (full context)
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...writing implements. Blöndal then asks Tóti to give a summary of his religious work with Agnes as Blöndal writes it down. Tóti tells him that he selected passages from the Corinthians... (full context)
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...Blöndal describes the murders in detail to try to convince Tóti to stop empathizing with Agnes. Blöndal tells Tóti how Natan and Pétur had gone to bed and Fridrik and Agnes... (full context)
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Tóti points out that Agnes did not actually kill them, but Blöndal thinks that Agnes killed Natan. Blöndal believes that,... (full context)
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Blöndal asks if Agnes is similarly repentant, and Tóti tells him she does not talk about repentance. Blöndal tells... (full context)
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Tóti leaves Blöndal’s office, now doubting Agnes’s words. Karitas, Blöndal’s servant, then approaches Tóti and tells him that she needs to speak... (full context)
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The perspective changes to Agnes’s first person narrative as she helps Margrét prepare food for the harvest celebration. Steina and... (full context)
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When Agnes was Steina’s age, she remembers trying to avoid the man who raped her several times... (full context)
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...at the farm for the feast and they all come inside. Margrét introduces Róslín to Agnes. Róslín furiously asks Margrét why she invited them over with Agnes there. Margrét tells Róslín... (full context)
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...narrative switches back to the third person as Tóti walks into the kitchen and asks Agnes if she is going to be joining them. Agnes, who is churning butter, says no.... (full context)
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Tóti tells Agnes that he talked with Blöndal. He tells her that Blöndal wants them to change the... (full context)
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Agnes reminds Tóti that she asked him to be her priest because, as she said earlier,... (full context)
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Agnes tells Tóti that, when he helped her cross the river, she recognized him and knew... (full context)
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Tóti asks Agnes to tell him about Natan, and Agnes says that she met Natan when she was... (full context)
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On her way to Worm’s farm, Agnes ran into her little brother Jóas. Jóas was excited to see her. Agnes was too,... (full context)
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Agnes tells Tóti that, although Jóas liked working on the farm, his friends were troublemakers. Jóas... (full context)
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Agnes said she had been saving that money for marriage, and she talks about how a... (full context)
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Tóti asks Agnes if she writes poems, and Agnes says that, unlike Rósa, she does not brag about... (full context)
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Agnes had no opinion of Natan at that point. María told her that Natan had left... (full context)
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That afternoon, Agnes and María worked hard to get ready for the feast. Later that night, the servants... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person perspective as she thinks that Tóti is probably wondering about the nature of... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...relationship. She then calls Natan a traitor and says that a “rose of Kidjaskard” (i.e. Agnes) has poisoned him. (full context)
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...awake in the badstofa at Kornsá. A few days before, Margrét had stayed behind with Agnes while everyone else went to round up the sheep for winter. That day, Margrét had... (full context)
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As it turned out, Róslín went into labor that day, and Margrét, Agnes, and Ingibjörg went to Róslín’s farm to help her. It quickly became clear that something... (full context)
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...the round up of the sheep and the baby’s birth. The next day, Margrét spoke Agnes more than usual. Lauga had come in and complained about Agnes staring at her possessions,... (full context)
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...the animals, remembering that it is slaughter day. Margrét thinks back on the day that Agnes arrived at Kornsá and how hostile she felt toward her. Now, though, she appreciates Agnes’s... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s first person perspective as the family begins the slaughter of that year’s animals for the... (full context)
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Agnes remembers the previous autumn on Natan’s farm, when Natan made a mistake gutting a sheep... (full context)
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When the men finish eating, Agnes prepares the mixture used to salt the meat. It makes her think of how she... (full context)
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They poach the sausage in a kettle over the fire. As Agnes holds a sheep head close to the fire to burn away the hair, the smell... (full context)
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...Steina work together in the kitchen to finish making the sausage. Steina mentions how quickly Agnes works, and Lauga says that she probably poisoned the whole barrel of meat. Steina doubts... (full context)
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...very upset and asks her what is wrong. Lauga tells her that she thought that Agnes would just be a prisoner in their house, not a constant part of their family.... (full context)
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...third-person, jumps to follow Tóti as he decides to travel to Kornsá to talk with Agnes despite the bad weather. As Tóti prepares for his trip, Reverend Jón implies that Tóti... (full context)
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The narrative jumps to Agnes and Tóti sitting in the badstofa as Agnes tells him that, after first meeting Natan,... (full context)
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...if she is talking about the same Pétur that was murdered when Natan was, and Agnes confirms that she is. She says they were all afraid of Pétur, who told them... (full context)
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Jón tells Lauga to let Tóti speak with Agnes without interference. This infuriates Lauga, who says that it is Agnes who has been interfering... (full context)
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Agnes continues, talking about Pétur’s bad reputation for having been arrested for killing animals for fun.... (full context)
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Tóti and Agnes resume their talk. Agnes says she thought that María was jealous because Agnes was the... (full context)
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The narrative switches to Agnes’s first-person perspective as she describes how sometimes her mouth aches after talking with Tóti. No... (full context)
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Natan had then asked Agnes what the name was for the space between the stars, and when Agnes said “soul... (full context)
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Agnes fell in love with Natan and felt flattered that he had chosen her. She would... (full context)
Chapter 9
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This chapter opens with an anonymous poem about Agnes from before the murders, which calls her “good” and “a poet.” The chapter then resumes... (full context)
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Sigga led her to the house and asked about her journey. Sigga let Agnes get settled in the badstofa while she made them coffee. Agnes looked around the badstofa... (full context)
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Agnes then describes Sigga showing her the farm. Agnes tells Tóti that the farm was next... (full context)
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Sigga told Agnes a little about her personal history, and then said that she had never been a... (full context)
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The day after she arrived, Agnes saw Natan walking along the shore. Sigga told her that he’d arrived the night before.... (full context)
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...Bjarnason, who has come to register them with the parish. Tóti introduces the Reverend to Agnes, who identifies herself as “Agnes Jónsdóttir.” Lauga, thinking she is referring to her own father... (full context)
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...member to determine their reading skills and knowledge of Christianity. Afterward, Reverend Pétur speaks with Agnes. Reverend Pétur then thanks them and says goodbye. Tóti walks him out. On the way,... (full context)
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The narrative changes back to Agnes’s first-person perspective as she revels in the fact that she has changed her name to... (full context)
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Agnes thinks again of her first day at Natan’s farm, when she spent all day with... (full context)
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Natan and Agnes then had sex in the workshop. Agnes thinks Sigga must have known that she and... (full context)
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It was an isolated life, but Agnes loved Natan and tolerated Sigga. Agnes asks Tóti if Sigga had been granted her appeal.... (full context)
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Soon after Agnes arrived, Fridrik visited for the first time. Natan introduced Fridrik and his lover Thórunn and... (full context)
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After Fridrik left, Natan disappeared briefly to check if he had stolen anything. According to Agnes, Natan and Fridrik’s friendship was strained by rivalry. Fridrik seemed to want Natan’s money. This... (full context)
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Tóti prompts Agnes to tell him about Sigga. Agnes tells Tóti how Sigga clearly hoped to marry Fridrik,... (full context)
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During lambing season, Natan was away traveling. Neither Agnes nor Sigga could deliver the lambs themselves because they were not strong enough, so Sigga... (full context)
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...Natan became angry that they had let him on the farm. This made Sigga cry. Agnes told Natan that they could never have managed without a man to help them with... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s perspective as she describes the endless winter days. Agnes wonders where Tóti is, as he... (full context)
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Agnes wonders if she and Rósa could have been friends under different circumstances. Agnes had heard... (full context)
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Natan had invited Rósa inside, but Rósa said she only came to drop Thóranna off. Agnes was surprised and Natan explained that Thóranna lived with him in the winter. Rósa, Agnes,... (full context)
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...narrative switches back to follow Tóti. He is still very ill, and dreams feverishly that Agnes has come to visit him. She kisses him, but then tries to choke him. Tóti... (full context)
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...why Steina is upset. Lauga tells her that she heard a story from Róslín about Agnes and told Steina, who did not like it. According to the story, Agnes received a... (full context)
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The narrative changes back to Agnes’s first person perspective. She is disappointed that Tóti still hasn’t come. Winter, meanwhile, has arrived... (full context)
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The relationship became more and more toxic until one day Daníel talked to Agnes about Natan. Daníel mentioned that he had noticed that she and Sigga both received special... (full context)
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Agnes wonders if she would tell Tóti this if he were there. She thinks about another... (full context)
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Agnes went to talk to Natan. She found him yelling at Sigga, and Agnes told Sigga,... (full context)
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Natan did not find anything missing in the workshop but still refused to speak to Agnes. Eventually he went outside and stared at the sea. Agnes followed him. She hugged him... (full context)
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Natan told Agnes that he saw her nailed to the wall by her hair in his dreams of... (full context)
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That night, Agnes lay awake waiting for Natan to return to the house. Eventually she fell asleep, but... (full context)
Chapter 11
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The third-person narrative then resumes as Margrét wakes up to the sound of Agnes crying. Margrét gets out of bed and lights the fire in the kitchen. She approaches... (full context)
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Agnes makes room for Margrét to sit on the bed as Margrét has a coughing fit.... (full context)
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In the kitchen, Margrét heats milk and tells Agnes that her mother had a superstition that if there was always a fire burning in... (full context)
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Agnes apologizes for waking Margrét, who says she often wakes up anyway to check on the... (full context)
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According to Agnes, the judges at her trial thought that Thórbjörg and Agnes had plotted the murders together,... (full context)
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Agnes mentions how profoundly lonely the farm could be in the winter with so few neighbors.... (full context)
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...yelling at her and threatening to throw her out in the snow. Natan then old Agnes to follow him outside to the beach. There, Natan told Agnes that Fridrik had asked... (full context)
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Agnes deviates from her story to tell Margrét how the sea near Natan’s farm was different... (full context)
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The narrative shifts to Agnes’s first person perspective as she remembers the events that followed Fridrik’s proposal to Sigga. That... (full context)
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Agnes went into the badstofa and found Fridrik and Sigga sitting together. Sigga looked upset. Agnes... (full context)
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Fridrik said he was going to kill Natan, and when Agnes asked why, since Fridrik was going to marry Sigga anyway, Fridrik told Agnes that “a... (full context)
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...returned to the farm. Natan was angry about Fridrik and Sigga’s engagement and he accused Agnes of being happy about them getting together. Natan then apologized to Agnes for having hit... (full context)
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...Margrét, having apparently gone out to get more milk, returns to the kitchen and asks Agnes to continue her story. Agnes tells Margrét that Natan apologized to Sigga for being unreasonable... (full context)
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The narrative returns to first person. One night, Agnes told Natan she knew he had been sleeping with Sigga. She said that she forgave... (full context)
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When Agnes persisted in asking him, Natan called her a nag. Agnes exploded, calling him a dog... (full context)
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Agnes sought shelter in the cowshed to keep from freezing. Eventually, Sigga brought Agnes clothes and... (full context)
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...get up, but Reverend Jón refuses to let him up until he is better, saying Agnes is not worth the amount of time he is devoting to her. (full context)
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The narrative, still in the third-person, moves back to describing Margrét and Agnes’s conversation. Margrét is shocked to hear that Natan threw Agnes out in the snow. Agnes... (full context)
Chapter 12
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The narrative then switches back to Agnes’s voice. She describes how she and Fridrik arrived at Natan’s farm together. Sigga answered the... (full context)
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Fridrik, Sigga, and Agnes spent the next few days together preparing to leave. Sigga planned to go back to... (full context)
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That night, Agnes slept in the cowshed again. She woke up in the night and heard footsteps. It... (full context)
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Shaking, Agnes went to the kitchen for a lamp, where she found Fridrik. Fridrik told her he... (full context)
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Agnes, furious with Fridrik, asked him what he was going to do now. Natan, who tried... (full context)
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Fridrik then told Agnes that she killed Natan. Fridrik began sobbing, then took the knife out of Natan’s stomach... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...representative in Copenhagen. The letter presents several documents to Blöndal, including the court’s ruling on Agnes’s case, the King’s letter granting Sigga’s appeal, the document confirming that the sentence should be... (full context)
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The secretary lays out certain requirements pertaining to the execution, including that Fridrik and Agnes must have a priest visit them each day, that the execution should occur near Natan’s... (full context)
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...shows a letter to the District Officers from Blöndal, confirming the date of Fridrik and Agnes’s executions for January 12. Blöndal reminds them that local farmers must attend. After this letter,... (full context)
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...Jón. Once Jón arrives, Tóti hands Jón the letter from Blöndal proclaiming the date of Agnes’s execution. The family at Kornsá had not yet heard about it. Margrét goes to fetch... (full context)
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The narrative switches to Agnes’s first person perspective as she talks with Tóti, trying to process the fact that Tóti... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to the third person as Tóti tries to get through to Agnes, who is staring at the floor. Jón calls for some brandy. Agnes asks how many... (full context)
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The narrative switches back to Agnes’s voice as she tries to cope with her impending death. She thinks about the dark... (full context)
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The narrative returns to the third-person, describing how Tóti and Agnes both stay awake late, and then fall asleep. Margrét is still awake and knitting. She... (full context)
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The narrative returns to Agnes’s first person perspective, as she remembers how Fridrik never found Natan’s money after his death,... (full context)
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...family of Kornsá spends time together in the badstofa. They all watch as Tóti and Agnes hold hands and talk. Margrét pulls a chest out from under the bed. They open... (full context)
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The narrative returns to Agnes’s first person perspective. Margrét holds Agnes’s hand and tell her she is not a monster.... (full context)
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Agnes says goodbye to Steina, who hugs her and sobs. Agnes apologizes, though she isn’t sure... (full context)
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The perspective changes back to the third-person as Tóti and Agnes ride towards the spot where Agnes will be executed. Agnes is so afraid that she... (full context)
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Finally, the riders arrive at Agnes’s execution place. Tóti helps Agnes down. She is so drunk that she has trouble standing... (full context)
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As the minutes go by, Tóti suggests that they pray. Agnes hears the burial hymn being sung, and she and Tóti sing along. Jón, meanwhile, says... (full context)
Epilogue
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The epilogue takes the form of a document written by Blöndal confirming that Fridrik and Agnes were both led to the execution place. Fridrik was killed first, then Agnes was brought... (full context)