Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces Part 1: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Orual and Psyche stand like enemies about to fight, watching each other. Orual is trying to write the truth, because she’s getting to her major complaint against the gods, but remembering these moments too often has made them less distinct. She first thinks that Psyche is mad, and she says that they must leave this terrible place. A Greek would ridicule her for believing in the palace, Orual says, but in Glome, the gods are closer to mortals. She feels like everything is becoming uncertain.
While it’s entirely possible that time has blurred Orual’s memories, it’s also quite possible that she’s struggling to tell the truth because, through the process of writing her story, she begins to see her own actions differently. She is unsure of reality both in the moment with Psyche and in trying to recount it. As mortal and divine seem to merge, everything becomes unstable.
Themes
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Psyche thinks that Orual does see the palace, and Orual becomes angry like her father the King. She screams at Psyche to stop saying that there’s a palace. Psyche tries to make her touch it. Orual insists that Psyche is pretending, but she doesn’t entirely believe her own words. She shakes Psyche, who flings her away. Psyche points out that Orual tasted the wine she gave her, and took the cup. Orual says that Psyche gave her water cupped in her hands, and that she simply went along with Psyche’s game of pretending it was wine.
It frightens Orual and Psyche to doubt reality and their trust in one another. Their fear makes them cruel. The issue of the palace begins to split them apart from their old closeness, and Orual will blame the gods for putting this between them. Furthermore, although Orual wouldn’t admit it, she might also be jealous that Psyche can see a divine structure that she herself can’t, perhaps by some failing of her own.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Psyche then becomes sad and understands that Orual truly can’t see the palace. Psyche’s complete belief almost convinces Orual, and she realizes there might be many things in the valley that she can’t see. For years after, she dreams that she is in some place she knows well, but everything she touches feels different than the object she sees. These dreams all come from this moment of believing in the palace without seeing it.
Orual almost comes to accept the divine mysteries that the Priest spoke of; believing in the invisible palace in front of her requires nothing more than blind faith in a divine power. However, this state of belief is extremely disorienting and frightening, as shown by the dreams that it causes.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
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 of them, but then she only wants Psyche to come back to her. Psyche holds her, and then they sit and Psyche tries to comfort Orual. Orual allows the love in Psyche’s voice to comfort her. Psyche says that the god might help Orual see the palace.
Despite the presence of the divine, Orual still cares first and foremost about her relationship with Psyche; she really only cares about the gods’ influence as it pertains to Psyche. Orual comes close to a purer form of love when she wonders whether Psyche really should be with the gods, but she quickly reverts to her possessive type of love.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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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 is her husband, Orual becomes angry again. She remembers her first reaction, that Psyche must be mad. She feels she can breathe more easily then, and demands that Psyche show her the god and the palace.
Orual’s jealous love takes a firmer grip of her, such that she must hate any stranger of whom Psyche speaks with adoration. Perversely, she’s even relieved at the thought that Psyche is mad, because this means she can be brought to her senses and somehow made to not love the god.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Psyche admits that she has not seen the god, because he only comes to her in darkness. She’s forbidden to bring light into their bedchamber because she can’t see his face or know his name. Orual sees joy in her eyes and insists that Psyche is speaking nonsense. She doesn’t mean to lie, but she’s imagining things due to fear and loneliness. Psyche points out that if she were imagining everything, she wouldn’t have been able to survive this whole time. Orual has to admit that Psyche looks incredibly healthy. She even seems taller.
Again, Psyche’s faith contrasts starkly with Orual’s. It makes no difference to Psyche that she hasn’t seen the god; she knows that all he says is true and fully trusts in his goodness. Orual not only doesn’t have faith in the god, but also doesn’t even have faith in Psyche. In fact, her jealousy makes her stubbornly ignore everything that logically points to Psyche’s story as the truth.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Psyche again assures Orual that the god will make everything all right, but Orual snarls that she hates it all. Unsure at first what she means, she realizes that she hates whatever it is that comes to Psyche at night, and the suffocating holiness of the gods. She begins to cry again, telling Psyche that she seems far away. Orual wants Psyche to return to the mortal world where they were happy together. Psyche replies that she is now a wife with a home. Orual realizes that Psyche likes her situation and tells her she should have been one of Ungit’s girls, living in darkness among the holy rituals.
Orual doesn’t want the god to make everything alright, because that would only magnify Psyche’s adoration of him and show that she no longer needs Orual when she has a god looking out for her. The divine world has taken hold of Psyche, and so Orual hates it in her jealousy. Orual’s comparison of Psyche to Ungit’s girls shows that she can’t yet perceive the difference between Ungit and the god of the Mountain, a difference between lustful or devouring love and pure, selfless love.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Orual reiterates her desire for Psyche to return to her, but Psyche insists that Orual must come to her instead. Orual can’t decide whether or not Psyche is mad. This is the moment for the gods to speak, she writes, if they want happiness for the women. Instead, it starts to rain. Orual tells Psyche to come under her cloak, but Psyche says it’s impossible for her to get wet, since they’re sitting inside. Orual can see the rain on Psyche’s cheeks, and watching Psyche getting wet convinces Orual that Psyche is mad. She insists that Psyche must come home with her, or else she will die in the oncoming winter. Psyche resigns herself to the fact that they can’t see the same thing. Bardia, who might judge which of them sees reality, can’t cross the river.
Orual wants Psyche to give up her newly divine existence, an essentially selfish desire. Orual’s main complaint against the gods is that they won’t guide humans clearly, and this is one of the moments in which she feels like they fail her. Instead, the rain makes the sisters’ divergent realities more vivid, and the weather’s obvious effect on Psyche makes Orual surer than ever of Psyche’s madness. To believe Psyche would require Orual to disbelieve the evidence of her own eyes, and Orual lives so wholly within herself that she could never do this.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Orual commands Psyche to obey her. Psyche says that she now must obey her husband. Orual begins to hate Psyche and tries to drag her away, intending to hide Psyche in Bardia’s house until she comes to her senses. But Psyche is stronger. When they stop wrestling, they are scratched, Orual is crying, and the rain has stopped.
Orual’s attempt to command Psyche shows that she feels some sense of ownership over Psyche, an attitude that can’t exist in the type of ideal love that Psyche practices. Orual also demonstrates that her way of loving turns easily to hate and harms both parties involved.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Psyche regrets Orual’s anger and wishes they could have feasted together, but she knows that Orual would not have tasted the food. She has promised to send Orual away before sunset. However, she wants Orual to return as soon as possible. In the meantime, she’ll figure out how to help Orual see the palace. Orual is helpless and lets Psyche lead her back to the river. She promises to return if she can get out of the King’s house. Psyche predicts that the King won’t be much trouble in the next few days.
Psyche’s love shows its purity. Even though Orual has treated her awfully, Psyche maintains an admirable sense of empathy and can only hope to find a way to help Orual. Though Orual hardly notices Psyche’s prediction about the King, it will prove accurate, which indicates that Psyche has access to some supernatural knowledge.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
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 everything will be wonderful soon. She goes back into the valley, and Orual calls into the twilight for Bardia.
Despite the invisible palace and the presence of the gods, everything boils down to Orual’s desire to be with Psyche and possess her fully. Psyche denies her fulfillment one last time by reminding Orual that her worst nightmare has come true—Psyche owes her love to someone else now.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon