Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces Part 1: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bardia comes to Orual, but she can’t talk about what has happened. Bardia says that they’ll have to stay where they are for the night, even though it’s too close to the gods. Orual follows him to a campfire, and he brings out delicious food. She takes pleasure in her mortal needs and doesn’t think of divine wonders. Bardia suggests that they should lie back to back for warmth, since he’s nothing more than a dog to her. She agrees, but is surprised he’s suggested it. She doesn’t know yet that men hardly see an ugly woman as a woman at all.
On the Glome side of the river, in the company of the very human Bardia, Orual can appreciate what it is to be mortal rather than trying to pull Psyche back from the confusing presence of the divine. Bardia treats Orual like a male companion, an attitude that he will often take. Though Orual doesn’t yet understand that this is a result of her ugliness, she will later become bothered by his blindness to her femininity.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Bardia falls asleep quickly but would awaken at any sign of danger. Orual can’t sleep at all due to discomfort and worry. Before dawn, she creeps down to the river for a drink. When she looks up, she sees a huge palace, incredibly beautiful and entirely dark. Somewhere inside, she thinks, something holds Psyche in its arms, and Orual wonders if it will punish her. She knows she must cross the river and ask forgiveness for being angry with Psyche, whom she now sees is almost a goddess. She is frightened and watches for any change in the palace. As she rises to her feet, the palace dissolves into mist.
The vision of the palace is the sign that Orual has been waiting for—and will continue to wait for, since she refuses to take it as a sign. In the moment that she sees the palace, she believes in the gods and in Psyche’s version of reality. However, even from within her faith, she still focuses on Psyche being kept from her, imagining the god possessing her. While the vision lasts, she can see some of her own wrongs. However, the palace’s disappearance changes everything.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Orual asks the reader to judge. She wonders if the moment she saw the palace is evidence against her or against the gods. The gods might say it was a sign, but she thinks a sign that is also a riddle is useless. It’s possible that she truly did see the palace, but it’s also possible that, being half asleep and looking through mist, she imagined it. She thinks it unfair for the gods to only send a sign that can’t be proven—they should speak plainly. Orual returns to Bardia but does not tell him what she saw. In fact, she has never told anyone.
The vision might seem like obvious evidence that Orual has been in the wrong, but Orual so stubbornly refuses to give up her perspective that she doesn’t take it as such. On the one hand, the palace does support Psyche’s story, but on the other, its disappearance only makes another mystery she can’t understand. The gods have sent their sign, but still Orual wants them to be clearer. She doesn’t realize that no matter how clearly they speak, she’ll still try to twist their will to please herself. The fact that she never tells anyone of the vision suggests that she knows that the palace is compelling evidence that she is wrong.
Themes
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
They begin their journey home through wind and rain. When they stop for lunch, Orual tells Bardia everything, but leaves out her glimpse of the palace. In response, Bardia says that he tries to stay out of the way of the gods by acting piously. Orual asks whether he thinks Psyche is mad or the palace is real, and Bardia is sure she isn’t mad, but he’s hesitant to offer any advice. He insists that he can’t doubt Psyche’s word about her lover. When Orual asks what sort of lover would keep his face hidden, Bardia admits that it must be something awful, also pointing out that it’s called the Brute.
Bardia’s viewpoint represents the general religious beliefs of the people of Glome—the gods exist, and their power should be feared. This perspective essentially leads him to support Psyche’s version of reality, though he does worry about what Psyche can’t see. In this book, faces speak truths about those who wear them, so anyone who hides their face must be hiding a dark truth about themselves. Ironically, Orual will soon veil her own face for this very reason.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
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Orual has already guessed what Bardia put into words, but it’s still a shock to hear it. She knows that Bardia feels very certain of the situation, and she thinks that everyone in Glome would agree with him. Psyche was given to the Shadowbrute, and it ended Glome’s problems. Something godlike and disgusting is using Psyche. For the rest of the journey Orual accepts this story, and it seems clear that any other possibility was just something she imagined to comfort herself.
The fact that Orual so readily accepts Bardia’s perspective shows that she has little ability to think logically and independently in her current state of emotional turmoil, and also that she is happy to accept any story that will cast her in a good light for hating Psyche’s lover. If the lover is a monster, she can take Psyche from him without feeling guilty about it.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Orual touches her sword hilt. Before the sacrifice, she swore that she would kill Psyche rather than let a monster have her. Now she swears it again and cries. Doubting herself, she wonders why she should interfere when Psyche is happy. But as they approach the house of Ungit, Orual realizes that there is a deeper way to love than only seeking happiness for the loved one. A father does not want his daughter to be a prostitute, and a woman does not want her beloved to be a coward, even if they would be happy as such. Orual strengthens her resolve to remove Psyche from the Brute. As they enter the city, Bardia says that Orual must enter the palace by a back entrance to avoid the King’s notice.
Orual is fully willing to allow her love to destroy Psyche, almost seeming to find a perverse pleasure in the idea of killing Psyche to save her from a monster. In death, Psyche could be forever Orual’s. Orual wouldn’t have to worry about Psyche’s freewill leading her to other loves. Orual convinces herself that she acts nobly by seeking what is morally right for Psyche, rather than what makes her happy. Significantly, she is near the house of Ungit at this point—this strengthens the association of this devouring, hateful sort of love with Ungit.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon