Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces Part 1: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Orual reaches her chamber, the Fox is waiting for her, and she tells him Psyche is alive. She bathes and eats, and then welcomes him to her table. He is overjoyed at her news of Psyche’s well-being. She then goes on to tell him the whole story, watching his face darken. The Fox assumes Psyche is mad, and begins to speak of how to cure her. Orual admits that Psyche seemed perfectly sane in conversation. She asks whether there’s any chance something can exist if she can’t see it, using the example of a soul. The Fox, however, merely thinks she hasn’t understood his teachings and might be mad herself.
Even though Orual believed that Psyche was mad just the evening before, she now finds herself defending Psyche’s sanity and looking for a way that Psyche could be telling the truth. She’s under the influence of Bardia’s belief in the gods, but she also can’t quite shake the fact that she saw the palace for herself. Her questions about the existence of things beyond sight gesture to this experience—did she briefly see something that exists outside of human perception?
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Orual considers telling the Fox about her vision of the palace, but decides he wouldn’t take it seriously. She suggests that Psyche’s lover might also be a delusion, but the Fox argues that someone must have freed her because she has been eating. In no way does he think it could be a god; instead, he believes it must be a criminal living on the Mountain. Orual can’t stand the thought, but the Fox assures her that Psyche isn’t aware of the truth—the man must be tricking her. The Fox’s explanation seems clearly correct to Orual, just as Bardia’s did before.
The Fox sifts reality from fantasy through logical reasoning. Certain parts of Psyche’s story must be true, but not all of them. He finds earthly explanations for everything about the story that Psyche explains as divine. Orual is just as willing to accept the Fox’s explanation as she was to accept Bardia’s, even though they’re essentially opposites; one is based on divine powers and one on simple human acts.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
The Fox can’t think of what to do, and Orual despairs as to how she’ll escape back to the Mountain. The Fox reveals that lions have been sighted again, far from the city, and the King is going on a hunt. Orual assumes the King is angry, but the Fox says that, in fact, he’s very eager to go. In any case, he’ll be gone for a few days, and he’s leaving the next morning. They must act while he’s gone.
If the lions that were originally terrorizing Glome were sent by the gods in their anger, it seems these lions might also be the result of divine intervention. Since Psyche predicted that the King wouldn’t bother Orual for a few days, however, Orual doesn’t think of this.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
The Fox points out that Psyche will get pregnant soon, which makes Orual want to torture Psyche’s lover to death. She suggests they could hide Psyche in Bardia’s house. When the Fox says that Bardia is too afraid of the gods to take her in, Orual defends his bravery. However, the Fox argues that Bardia’s wife (Ansit) controls him, and she wouldn’t allow it. Bardia married her for her beauty, and Orual thinks she must be horrible. The Fox says that they must get Psyche out of Glome so that no one can find her to sacrifice her again.
Orual again exhibits violent tendencies. She also begins to show signs of having feelings for Bardia, simply through caring so much about his wife at a time when she’s almost completely consumed by thoughts of Psyche. It must hurt that Bardia married Ansit for her beauty when Orual knows she has none of that. Ironically, Orual seems to judge Ansit for controlling Bardia, when she herself always controls the people she loves.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Get the entire Till We Have Faces LitChart as a printable PDF.
Till we have faces.pdf.medium
Orual can’t think how to convince Psyche to leave the Mountain besides using force, but the Fox points out that they have no force to use. They sit silently while a servant plays a game of beads. Finally, Orual says she must somehow convince Psyche of the truth, and then they can make a plan together, even if it means they leave Glome to wander the world.
Orual’s first impulse is to physically force Psyche into doing her bidding, which echoes the King’s methods that she hates. In truth, the way she ends up getting Psyche to obey her is closer to force than it is to any form of convincing.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Orual says she feels responsible for Psyche, and she will do anything to get her away from the man who has trapped her. If Orual has to, she claims, she’ll kill Psyche. The Fox is horrified. He tells her that her love is overruled by her anger and pride. The Fox loves Psyche as much as Orual does, but Psyche’s current life is better than what Orual suggests. To nature, marriage is simply sex. Orual cannot see Psyche’s lover as anything better than filth, but the Fox, as a slave, sees it differently.
Orual often returns to the idea of killing Psyche, as though it almost appeals to her to possess her sister so fully. The Fox tries to help Orual see the situation outside of the conventions of her society, which would say that Psyche is being sexually ruined by a degenerate commoner. However, Orual was just as upset when she believed Psyche’s lover was divine. This contradiction suggests that the identity of Psyche’s lover isn’t the problem.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Orual insists that the Fox doesn’t understand everything, and he readily agrees. He doesn’t believe the royal house has divine blood, because he thinks that everyone has divine blood. Everyone has a god inside them, and all are joined.
The Fox doesn’t recognize the distinction between human and divine that occupies Orual. Human and divine are one; thus, the gods don’t exist as independent entities.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
The Fox is tired, and must go to bed. He says they will continue talking in the morning. Orual lets him go, but feels he has failed her in a way that men always do, for they’re never entirely invested in anything, and they’re easily distracted. She feels that no one but she really cares about Psyche. She must make a plan herself. She must guess the answer to the riddle, and when she has guessed wrong, everyone will punish her for it.
Orual faces her situation with a dangerous single-minded obsession that prevents her from making rational decisions. It’s convenient for her to believe that the Fox doesn’t care as much as she does about Psyche, because that allows her to take full responsibility for her sister and play the hero. At the same time, she almost believes she will fail and she wants to suffer to prove her love.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Orual then does something unconventional. She speaks to the gods herself, in her own room, without a sacrifice. She begs them to send her a sign, but nothing happens. So she decides she has to act the very next day. She sleeps for a few hours, but her mind’s torment wakes her. She goes to the window and thinks.
Orual’s decision to speak to the gods herself gestures to certain Protestant denominations that encourage worshipers to speak to God without the interference of clergy. This moment is another failure for which Orual holds the gods responsible, as they refuse to guide her to the right action.
Themes
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
She sees clearly now. Though she has believed both Bardia and the Fox, one must be wrong. If the beliefs of Glome are correct, then Bardia is correct. If Greek philosophy is correct, then the Fox’s theory is correct. Orual herself has been raised to believe both sets of beliefs partially, and she won’t be able to choose one. But she realizes that this doesn’t matter, because both men think that something bad has control of Psyche. Orual herself is the only one who ever imagined that Psyche’s husband might be something good, but the fact that the husband forbids Psyche to see his face makes this impossible.
Orual straddles two faiths, which means that neither one can completely satisfy her. She decides that the truth isn’t as important as she thought. Orual completely disregards her own instincts in favor of the men’s opinions, forgetting that her thoughts are influenced by her vision of the palace, while the men are judging based off a half-truth.
Themes
Self-understanding Theme Icon
Orual must get Psyche away. Suddenly she remembers how happy Psyche looked in the valley, and she again feels tempted to let her remain happy and not cause her pain. Part of Orual thinks that she doesn’t understand everything that’s happening, but another part of her feels responsible for Psyche and thinks she must act accordingly. Psyche is only a child, and therefore she must obey. Orual becomes determined to act today, as long as Bardia can come with her. She’s bothered by the idea of his wife keeping him back. She lies down to wait for morning.
Even as Orual drives stubbornly towards Psyche’s destruction, she constantly doubts herself, allowing a purer love to shine through, though it continues to be overwhelmed by possessive love. Orual’s concerns for Psyche’s wellbeing might be legitimate, but she refuses to allow Psyche control of her own life. It seems the only thing that can distract Orual is her jealousy of Bardia’s wife.
Themes
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Jealousy Theme Icon