Shadow and Bone

by

Leigh Bardugo

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Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar Symbol Analysis

Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar Symbol Icon

Morozova’s stag, and the collar made from its antlers, symbolize power—specifically, the power of mercy. Like many Ravkan children, Alina grows up believing that the stag, the ancient leader of Morozova’s herd, is just a fairy tale. However, the Darkling reveals that not only is the herd real, but that the stag’s antlers could create one of the most powerful amplifiers in the world—and make Alina capable of wielding her power and helping the Darkling destroy the Shadow Fold. Though Alina isn’t entirely aware of it at this point, the stag thus symbolizes easy, thoughtless power grabs. She never considers the cost of killing such an important, ancient creature just for her gain; all she sees is the power it will give her. This also mirrors how the Darkling sees Alina herself. Unbeknownst to her, he plans to enslave her using the amplifier made from the stag’s antlers. Just as Alina sees the stag as a tool, the Darkling sees Alina in the same way—which deprives her of her agency and her humanity.

When Alina finally has the opportunity to kill the stag, she refuses to do so. But almost immediately after, this act of mercy begins to look like a death sentence as the Darkling swoops in, kills the stag himself, and creates Morozova’s collar, which makes it so that he alone controls Alina’s power. Alina characterizes her unwillingness to kill the stag as weakness. However, when the Darkling takes Alina to the Shadow Fold and uses her power to extend the Fold, Alina makes an important realization. Choosing to show the stag mercy was a difficult choice—but a powerful one. Recognizing the power in mercy and compassion allows Alina to retake control of her power and use Morozova’s collar for herself; the Darkling is no longer able to abuse and manipulate her power. Besting the Darkling in this way symbolizes one of the novel’s main points: that mercy is far more powerful than greed and cruelty.

Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar Quotes in Shadow and Bone

The Shadow and Bone quotes below all refer to the symbol of Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar. 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 12 Quotes

The horse has speed. The bear has strength. The bird has wings. No creature has all of these gifts, and so the world is held in balance. Amplifiers are part of this balance, not a means of subverting it, and each Grisha would do well to remember this or risk the consequences.”

Another philosopher wrote, “Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov, The Darkling
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

If the Darkling came to my room tonight, what would it mean? The idea of being his sent a little jolt through me. I didn’t think he was in love with me and I had no idea what I felt for him, but he wanted me, and maybe that was enough.

I shook my head, trying to make sense of everything. The Darkling’s men had found the stag. I should be thinking about that, […] but all I could think about was his hands on my hips, his lips on my neck, the lean, hard feel of him in the dark.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling
Page Number: 225
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:
Chapter 22 Quotes

This is the truth of him, I thought as I squinted in the dazzling light. Like calls to like. This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:

They’re hungry for this, I realized. Even after they’ve seen what he can do, even after watching their own people die. The Darkling wasn’t just offering them an end to war, but an end to weakness. After all these long years of terror and suffering, he would give them something that had seemed permanently beyond their grasp: victory. And despite their fear, they loved him for it.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, The King
Page Number: 342
Explanation and Analysis:

I’d thought the stag was haunting me, a reminder of my failure and the price my weakness would exact. But I was wrong.

The stag had been showing me my strength—not just the price of mercy but the power it bestowed. And mercy was something the Darkling would never understand.

I had spared the stag’s life. The power of that life belonged to me as surely as it belonged to the man who had taken it.

Related Characters: Alina Starkov (speaker), The Darkling, Malyen “Mal” Oretsov
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:
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Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar Symbol Timeline in Shadow and Bone

The timeline below shows where the symbol Morozova’s Stag/Morozova’s Collar appears in Shadow and Bone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 12
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...signs of them. Tapping Alina’s collarbone, the Darkling says that if they can kill Morozova’s stag, Alina can have a necklace: the most powerful amplifier ever. She needs the most powerful... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...through, and she can’t even summon a sunbeam. The Darkling insists he’s not worried. Morozova’s stag is meant for Alina, and he needs Alina to trust him on this. They’re going... (full context)
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
The first chance she gets, Alina goes to the library to research Morozova’s herd and amplifiers. She finds little about the deer, but a lot about amplifiers. Grisha, she... (full context)
Chapter 13
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...Alina could do just fine with any amplifier, but the Darkling insists she’ll get the stag. Alina pipes up that she can work harder, but the Darkling interjects that all of... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...if Alina would think he’s crazy if he said he believes they can find the stag. Alina asks why he cares what she thinks—and then he kisses her. Just as he... (full context)
Chapter 14
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...Genya’s warnings and the Darkling’s confusing behavior; the Darkling was right about her and the stag. (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...it’s nice to be wanted. Shaking her head, Alina tells herself to focus on the stag—but all she can think about is the Darkling’s kiss. Finally, she enters the Little Palace.... (full context)
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...away and says he came to report to Alina’s “master”; he’s the one tracking Morozova’s stag. Alina’s happiness disappears as Mal’s anger becomes apparent. They argue about Alina’s letters—Mal says he... (full context)
Chapter 15
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...she’ll be enslaved. Alina listens, perplexed, as Baghra says the Darkling plans to use Morozova’s stag so he can use the Fold as a weapon and expand it. He’ll push it... (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
...Then, Baghra explains that the Darkling will force Alina to help him by slaying Morozova’s stag himself. Putting the antlers around Alina’s neck will bind her to him forever. She’ll be... (full context)
Chapter 16
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...risk a fire. Working up her courage, Alina asks if the trackers have captured Morozova’s stag. He says they’re close, but he doesn’t think they can do it without him. They’re... (full context)
Chapter 17
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...the Darkling plans to weaponize the Fold, how amplifiers work, and the significance of Morozova’s stag. When Alina is done, Mal says she shouldn’t have trusted Baghra: the Darkling’s power extends... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
That evening, Mal says they’re going north to Tsibeya: they’re going to catch the stag before the Darkling does. If Alina has the amplifier, she might be strong enough to... (full context)
Chapter 18
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...better guns—but the King takes no interest. However, Mal refuses to talk about tracking the stag. As Mal points out birds’ nests, Alina wishes they could walk in the woods forever.... (full context)
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...changes. Mal sighs, but Alina assures him it’s okay—she’s certain the Darkling hasn’t caught the stag yet. (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...Dubrov were both killed in Fjerda. To Alina’s surprise, Mal continues that they’d hunted the stag all the way to the border, and the captain wanted a few people to dress... (full context)
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Class and Privilege Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Alina is stunned and disturbed, but she surprises herself by wondering how many people the stag’s power might save. Could the Darkling use the Fold to end the border wars that... (full context)
Chapter 19
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Alina sees movement in the corner of her eye—Morozova’s herd. The stag is staring at Alina. Mal pulls out his bow but tells Alina she’ll have to... (full context)
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Out of nowhere, an arrow pierces the stag’s chest. The other deer flee as oprichniki and Grisha appear out of the trees—along with... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...light, and people grab her and Mal in the darkness. The Darkling promptly slits the stag’s throat and tells an oprichnik to cut off the stag’s antlers. David appears, unwilling to... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...warning Alina not to hurt herself on purpose, the Darkling commands someone to burn the stag. (full context)
Chapter 20
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
...to sleep. Alina sits awake, thinking that this is her fault. If she’d killed the stag, she’d have his power. Showing him mercy was a weak choice, and many will die... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...asking about Mal, Alina doesn’t stop asking. Every night, Alina dreams of staring into the stag’s eyes. His death was senseless and Alina’s fault, but she also feels like she’s missing... (full context)
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...as Alina pushes through the crowd. She passes Zoya, who is, ironically, clearly jealous of Morozova’s collar . Finally, Ivan ushers Alina into a tent near the Darkling’s. It’s comfortable but surrounded... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...she knows Genya doesn’t believe her, but Genya acts like she does. Thinking of the stag, Alina asks Genya to tell David she forgives him. Alina thinks that she forgives Genya,... (full context)
Chapter 21
Desperation, Leadership, and Corruption Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...it. But Alina shakes her head, so the Darkling calls her to him. He touches Morozova’s collar and then Alina’s neck, which is uncomfortable but also thrills her. He accuses Alina of... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...stopped hurting. Mal kisses the scar, and they fall asleep together. Alina dreams of the stag in the glade—but this time, when the stag dies, it’s Mal’s blood that spills. In... (full context)
Chapter 22
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...Genya piles Alina’s hair high on her head with gold pins—the better to show off Morozova’s collar . Then, Ivan escorts Alina to the Darkling and they all walk to the drydocks.... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Greed vs. Mercy Theme Icon
...darkness and the volcra reach him. Suddenly, Alina is back in the glade with the stag, and she realizes why he keeps visiting her dreams. He’s not haunting her to taunt... (full context)
Identity and Self-Knowledge Theme Icon
Gender, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Conformity vs. Individuality Theme Icon
...She doesn’t tell Mal how much it feels like the collar belongs to her. The stag’s power feels like part of Alina’s power, and she doesn’t really want to lose it.... (full context)