Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Baghra Character Analysis

Baghra is a mysterious, crotchety old woman who lives in a hut on the grounds of the Royal Palace—and eventually, Alina discovers that she’s the Darkling’s mother. She’s hundreds of years old, if not older, and nobody but the Darkling (and eventually Alina) knows who she really is and what her power is (she can, like the Darkling, summon darkness). Initially, Alina hates Baghra. Baghra is tasked with teaching Alina to use her power, and when Alina can’t summon her power without help, Baghra grows frustrated and even hits Alina. Things improve when Alina learns to accept and harness her power, but Baghra remains a difficult, cold, and unsupportive teacher. She’s also derisive when the Darkling suggests getting Alina the antlers of Morozova’s stag as an amplifier—though later, Alina learns that this is because Baghra knows exactly what her son plans to do with it. When Baghra helps Alina escape the Little Palace, she explains that the amplifier will subjugate Alina and make her the Darkling’s prisoner. She also explains that she’s helping Alina thwart the Darkling now because she should’ve stepped in years ago, when the Darkling created the Shadow Fold.

Baghra Quotes in Shadow and Bone

The Shadow and Bone quotes below are all either spoken by Baghra or refer to Baghra. 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:
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
).
Chapter 5 Quotes

“My great-great-great-grandfather was the Black Heretic, the Darkling who created the Shadow Fold. It was a mistake, an experiment born of his greed, maybe his evil. I don’t know. But every Darkling since has tried to undo the damage he did to our country, and I’m no different.” He turned to me then, his expression serious, the firelight playing over the perfect planes of his features. “I’ve spent my life searching for a way to make things right. You’re the first glimmer of hope I’ve had in a long time.”

“Me?”

Related Characters: The Darkling (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), Baghra
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I closed my eyes, feeling tears slide down my cheeks, and I reached out to the thing within me that I’d kept hidden for so long. I’m sorry, I whispered to it.

I’m sorry I left you so long in the dark.

I’m sorry, but I’m ready now.

I called and the light answered. […] It surrounded me, blazing with heat, more powerful and more pure than ever before because it was all mine. I wanted to laugh, to sing, to shout. At last, there was something that belonged wholly and completely to me.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), Baghra, The Darkling, Malyen “Mal” Oretsov
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Suddenly, lots of things seemed easy. I wasn’t tired all the time or winded when I climbed the stairs. I slept deeply and dreamlessly every night and woke refreshed. Food was a revelation: bowls of porridge heaped with sugar and cream, plates of skate fried in butter, fat plums and hothouse peaches, the clear and bitter taste of kvas. It was as if that moment in Baghra’s cottage was my first full breath and I had awakened into a new life.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), Baghra, Malyen “Mal” Oretsov
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

“The Fold was no mistake.” Baghra dropped her hands and the swirling darkness around her melted away. “The only mistake was the volcra. He did not anticipate them, did not think to wonder what power of that magnitude might do to mere men.”

My stomach turned. “The volcra were men?”

“Oh yes. Generations ago. Farmers and their wives, their children. I warned him that there would be a price, but he didn’t listen. He was blinded by his hunger for power. Just as he is blinded now.”

Related Characters: Baghra (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

“But he can’t use an amplifier,” I protested weakly.

“He can use you,” Baghra said softly. “Morozova’s stag is no ordinary amplifier. He will hunt it. He will kill it. He will take its antlers, and once he places them around your neck, you will belong to him completely. You will be the most powerful Grisha who has ever lived, and all that newfound power will be his to command. You will be bound to him forever, and you will be powerless to resist.”

Related Characters: Baghra (speaker), Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

I’d wanted so badly to belong somewhere, anywhere. I’d been so eager to please him, so proud to keep his secrets. But I’d never bothered to question what he might really want, what his true motives might be. I’d been too busy imagining myself by his side, the savior of Ravka, most treasured, most desired, like some kind of queen. I’d made it so easy for him.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), Baghra, The Darkling
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Shadow and Bone LitChart as a printable PDF.
Shadow and Bone PDF

Baghra Character Timeline in Shadow and Bone

The timeline below shows where the character Baghra appears in Shadow and Bone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...Alina for breakfast in the morning. She warns Alina to rest, as tomorrow she’ll met Baghra—an “absolute treat.” With this, Genya leaves. Suddenly, Alina’s excitement disappears and she’s exhausted, anxious, and... (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
...the woods, Genya points further along to a stone hut nestled in the trees. It’s Baghra’s hut, and Alina doesn’t want to be late. Alina knocks, waits, knocks again, and then... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Baghra is an amplifier like the Darkling, so when she grips Alina’s wrist, sunlight floods the... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...Alina to him and leads her into the Darkling’s war room. Alina is terrified; did Baghra share how awful she is? But instead of chastising her, the Darkling asks how her... (full context)
Chapter 10
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...thinks she has powers at all, let alone the ability to destroy the Fold. Both Baghra and Botkin work Alina hard and reprimand her, but Alina struggles to improve. She sleeps... (full context)
Chapter 12
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...fine: Zoya ignores Alina at breakfast and it’s a beautiful day. But when Alina reaches Baghra’s hut, she hears angry voices inside. Alina knocks and lets herself in but tries to... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
The Darkling asks Alina if she’s heard of Morozova’s herd. When Baghra mocks that the deer are fairy tales, he leads Alina outside to speak privately. Alina... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...her to keep Morozova’s stag a secret, the Darkling strides away. When Alina turns and Baghra notices her blushing, Baghra harumphs. (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...because she trusts the Darkling. She even begins joining Marie and Nadia in leisure activities. Baghra is furious and accuses Alina of not trying, but Alina is just tired of failing.... (full context)
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
As Alina walks to Baghra’s hut in the new kefta, a servant appears and gives her a note. It’s Genya’s... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Alina slams the door open and sits down across from Baghra. Laughing, Baghra asks what Alina is angry about; is she tired of waiting for her... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
...energy to keep this secret since that day. But now, Mal has left Alina behind. Baghra is right: Alina wants to go home and grow old with Mal in their meadow,... (full context)
Chapter 13
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...the Darkling cured her with his blood and an “extract of diamonds.” Alina’s lessons with Baghra aren’t pleasant, but they make progress. Baghra encourages Alina to realize that her power is... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
...point. The girls are so preoccupied that Alina is late for her evening lesson with Baghra. Alina missed dinner and Baghra seems angrier than usual, but with coaching, Alina spreads a... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
From behind Alina, the Darkling says it isn’t enough. Baghra argues Alina could do just fine with any amplifier, but the Darkling insists she’ll get... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Wearily, the Darkling says Baghra might be right. Alina asks why he lets Baghra bother him and suggests it’s good... (full context)
Chapter 14
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...has been at war for a century, so the party seems frivolous. Nevertheless, she’s excited. Baghra begins accusing Alina of dreaming of her “dark prince” when Alina loses focus, and annoyingly,... (full context)
Chapter 15
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...realizes someone is at the door. She opens it to find not the Darkling, but Baghra. Baghra looks frightened, and she snaps for Alina to come with her. Silently, Baghra drags... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Almost howling now, Baghra says the Darkling has no intention of destroying the Fold. In fact, he created it—the... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...continues to argue, repeating what the Darkling told her about wanting to reunite Ravka. But Baghra snarls that the Darkling has had centuries to practice lying to lonely and naïve girls.... (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
It’s Baghra’s pity that convinces Alina. The Darkling clearly lied to her and deliberately kept her waiting... (full context)
Chapter 16
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Baghra tells Alina to leave with performers and travel west, where she’ll take a ship across... (full context)
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
Alina thanks Baghra and, thanks to Botkin’s training, hurries purposefully across the lawn. Baghra sends darkness around Alina... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...the night to sleep in a hayloft. As she lies there, she wonders what if Baghra is wrong; would the Darkling forgive her if she just went back? But the Darkling... (full context)
Chapter 17
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...the significance of Morozova’s stag. When Alina is done, Mal says she shouldn’t have trusted Baghra: the Darkling’s power extends beyond the True Sea, and he’ll catch Alina eventually. Alina doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 20
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...dinner. As the girls talk, Genya implies that she knows Alina ran—and she implies that Baghra has disappeared. Deciding to take a chance, Alina asks if she could somehow get word... (full context)