Orual faints after she crosses the river. When she comes to, she drinks water and realizes that she left her food with Psyche. She wishes Bardia were there with her instead of Gram. She waits by the river, hoping to see the lamp when Psyche lights it and covers it. Then she’ll see it again when Psyche looks at her husband’s face. She anticipates that Psyche will then come to her in distress, and she’ll comfort her.
Bardia comforted Orual the last time she returned from talking with Psyche, but this time there is no comfort from what she’s done. With everything practically ruined, her only hope is that she’ll be right. If Psyche really has been deceived, Orual might be able to salvage their relationship. Her desire to comfort Psyche is reminiscent of the night before the sacrifice.
However, Orual can’t help fearing that she might have done wrong. She imagines Psyche lost and in despair, all because of Orual. Orual often has the urge to cross the river and tell Psyche not to go through with her promise. Throughout all these thoughts, Orual can’t forget Psyche’s apparent hatred of her. Orual doesn’t understand how Psyche can hate her when Orual has just wounded herself out of love for Psyche.
Despite her stubborn refusal to let anything turn her aside from her original plan, Orual does not, in fact, feel entirely sure that her conclusion about the situation was correct. Furthermore, Orual hasn’t yet learned anything about love. She truly believes that wounding herself to make Psyche do her bidding was an act of pure love, and that Psyche should see it as such.
Orual sees the first lighting of the lamp. It gets very cold and her arm is painful. She realizes she might die as a result of this night. She imagines Psyche mourning her death, and everyone else showing their love for her now that she’s dead. Finally, she sees the lamplight again, very bright.
Orual’s imaginings expose her selfishness. She wants only to be loved and to be allowed to sacrifice herself to prove her own love. It doesn’t matter to her that this scenario would hurt Psyche deeply. These dreams also show a deep loneliness within Orual.
Suddenly there’s a loud voice that terrifies Orual because it’s immortal. She hears weeping, and her heart breaks. It all happens quickly, and then lightning flashes through the valley, illuminating falling trees. Through the thunder, the rocky cliffs of the Mountain begin to crack apart, and the river rapidly floods as torrential rains fall. Orual thinks this means she was right—Psyche’s husband is something horrible that is now enraged. Even if it kills them both, Psyche will know the truth and not be angry with Orual. If they can’t escape together, they can die together.
Orual has awakened the rage of the god. Even in this moment, she clings to the self-deception that began when she denied her own vision of the palace. Instead of realizing that Psyche might have been right, she tells herself that she was right. She hasn’t angered the god; she’s angered a monster. However, her world is falling down around her ears, both literally and metaphorically, and she won’t be able to deny it for long.
Orual is about to try to cross the stream when a light that looks like lightning appears and lasts. At the middle of it is a humanlike figure, vague in her memory. She can only look at the face for a moment, because its beauty is too overpowering. He looks at her with complete rejection, knowing everything about her. He makes it seem as though she has known the truth about him from the beginning, and only doubted it to deceive herself. Orual asks the reader to judge whether this is the true past, or whether the god has changed it.
Orual will later realize that the god’s version of the past is, in fact, the truth—she has deceived herself for her own ends. At this point in the story, though, she doesn’t even understand herself well enough to be able to recognize the truth when the god shows it to her. As a result, the experience only turns her even further against the gods, since she blames them for changing the past to hurt her. The god’s incredible beauty signifies his purity and truth.
Everything else is silent as the god speaks in a voice without anger. He says that Psyche must go into exile, and Orual will know herself and see what she does, and will also “be Psyche.” The voice and the light disappear, and Orual hears terrible weeping. Even if her worst enemy were weeping like that, she would try to help her, but she knows it’s Psyche. As Orual gets to her feet, the sound moves to the end of the valley. Orual can’t find her way across the river.
While Psyche’s punishment seems pretty straightforward, Orual’s is cryptic. In fact, Orual doesn’t even understand herself well enough at this point to realize that she doesn’t understand herself. It speaks to the depths of her cruelty that the god thinks it an appropriate punishment for her to recognize what she has really done. She also can’t yet know that she will “be Psyche” by taking on all of the anguish that Psyche feels.
When dawn comes, the valley is completely ruined. Orual calls for Psyche again and again, but she knows that Psyche has gone into exile. Orual finds Gram, who asks no questions. They begin their journey home. Now that Orual knows the gods hate her, she waits at every moment for them to kill her. She wonders if they might turn her into an animal instead. However, she isn’t afraid. She sees everything around her as her enemy. She thinks that the god’s words mean she’ll also have to wander the world, like Psyche. She’s glad to share Psyche’s punishment. She wonders what she’ll tell Bardia and the Fox.
The ruined valley reflects the ruin that Orual has made of her life and Psyche’s. As usual, Orual seeks punishment. However, the very fact that she welcomes it indicates that it wouldn’t be a true punishment. In fact, being denied the opportunity to die for Psyche’s sake, being forced to live on without her, knowing that she ruined Psyche’s happiness, is a far better punishment. But facing the prospect of death and welcoming it also puts Orual in a position where she feels she has little to lose, making her bolder as she begins her path to the crown.