Ickabog

Ickabog Summary and Analysis of Chapters 15 - 21

Summary:

Chapter 15: The King Returns

King Fred and his party return to Chouxville, where the king’s palace is located. The people of Chouxville have already heard about the king supposedly confronting the Ickabog, but they do not believe the story. They have also heard that at least one member of the Royal Guard died, but they do not know who. Bert and Mrs. Beamish are anxious about whether Major Beamish is okay, but Mrs. Beamish says that a messenger would have been sent if something had happened to him.

All the inhabitants of Chouxville go outside to see the procession. Daisy is the first person to notice that Major Beamish is missing, and she tries to run through the crowd to tell Bert, but she is too late. Mrs. Beamish faints when she sees Major Beamish’s body wrapped up and tied to his horse.

Chapter 16: Bert Says Goodbye

Lord Spittleworth realizes that he forgot to send a message to Mrs. Beamish beforehand about her husband’s death. He yells at Major Roach for not sending her a message. He orders Major Roach to put Major Beamish’s body under a Cornucopian flag in the Blue Parlor and summon Mrs. Beamish to the palace. Then, Lord Spittleworth finds Lord Flapoon and tells him to make sure the king goes to bed. Finally, he cleans himself up and goes to meet Mrs. Beamish.

Lord Spittleworth greets Mrs. Beamish with fake sadness and apologizes that word about Major Beamish’s death didn’t reach her. A servant named Hetty pours wine for Lord Spittleworth and hears part of the conversation Lord Spittleworth has with Mrs. Beamish. Lord Spittleworth lies that he sent someone named Nobby Buttons to pass the message along to Mrs. Beamish, but says that he must have disappeared. He sends Major Roach to put together a search party. He tells Mrs. Beamish a made up story about how Major Beamish died defending the king from the Ickabog. Mrs. Beamish asks to see her husband’s body, but Lord Spittleworth tells her that the wounds from the Ickabog are too severe to remove the flag covering him. Lord Flapoon enters and tells Lord Spittleworth that the king is in bed. Lord Spittleworth allows Mrs. Beamish and Bert into the Blue Parlor, and Bert rushes forward and grabs his father’s hand, which has no marks on it, as one would expect after being brutally mauled by the Ickabog.

Chapter 17: Goodfellow Makes a Stand

Major Roach has been keeping the Royal Guard in the Guard’s room to ensure that nobody tells their family that the story of the king fighting the Ickabog is a lie. Lord Spittleworth enters and asks if they have any questions. Most of the Royal Guard stay silent, but Capitain Goodfellow and two others ask questions: why they can’t see Major Beamish’s body, where the bullet Lord Flapoon fired went, and why so few people saw the Ickabog if it is said to be so big. Lord Spittleworth tells them the same story he told Mrs. Beamish, which does not answer those questions. The Royal Guard asks even more questions, including who Nobby Buttons is. Lord Spittleworth is shocked anyone has heard about Nobby Buttons since he only told Mrs. Beamish that part. Captain Goodfellow says that the servant, Hetty, told him about it.

Lord Spittleworth realizes that he will have to use bribery to remain in control of the story. He tells the Royal Guard, “Perhaps some of these men have better memories than you do. Perhaps they remember poor Nobby Buttons clearly. Dear little Nobby, in whose memory the king will add a fat bag of gold to everybody’s pay this week.” All the men except for Captain Goodfellow and two others agree to Lord Spittleworth’s story. Lord Spittleworth calls Captain Goodfellow and the two other men traitors and orders for them to be taken away and shot.

Chapter 18: End of an Advisor

Just as the Royal Guard depart back to their homes, Lord Flapoon bursts in to see Lord Spittleworth, with Herringbone the Advisor at his heels. Herringbone is furious that Captain Goodfellow and two other members of the Royal Guard have been sentenced to death without a trial, and he tells Lord Spittleworth that he directed them to be taken to the dungeons instead. Lord Spittleworth tells Herringbone the same story about fighting the Ickabog that he told Mrs. Beamish and the Royal Guard, but Herringbone is too smart to believe it. He tells Lord Spittleworth that he will hold a trial for the three Royal Guard members, find Nobby Buttons’ family (though he knows there is none since Nobby Buttons doesn’t exist), and have Major Beamish’s body examined by a doctor.

Lord Spittleworth knows that these actions will cause his clever plan to fall apart. Major Roach takes a sword down from the wall, and he stabs Herringbone as Lord Spittleworth tells the Advisor that he is “ripe for retirement.” Lord Spittleworth looks around at the members of the Royal Guard who remain in the room and says “Did everybody hear the Chief Advisor appointing me to his job before he retired?” The Royal Guard members all nod because they feel implicated in Herringbone’s murder and are afraid for their own lives. Lord Spittleworth orders Major Roach and one member of the Royal Guard to bury Herringbone’s body, and he reminds everyone that the penalty facing any cowards or traitors going forward is prison or death.

Chapter 19: Lady Eslanda

Lord Spittleworth heads to the dungeons to kill Captain Goodfellow and the two other soldiers, now that Herringbone can’t prevent him from doing so. On the way, he encounters Lady Eslanda. Hetty had told Lady Eslanda about the story of Nobby Buttons, and also told Lady Eslanda that she listened at the door of the Guard Room while Lord Spittleworth had the three soldiers arrested as traitors. Lady Eslanda gave Hetty money and told her to run away, and then she hurries down from her chambers. As she descended, she heard Herringbone say that the soldiers should be taken to the dungeons instead of killed, so she hid in a stairwell near the dungeons.

She asks Lord Spittleworth where Herringbone is, and Lord Spittleworth replies that he has retired from his position. Lady Eslanda puts on a fake smile and congratulates Lord Spittleworth on assuming the role of Chief Advisor, and she slips in that she knows about the men in the dungeon. Lady Eslanda tries to be convincing when she tells Lord Spittleworth that she knows the king wouldn’t want the men to have a trial, but Lord Spittleworth is able to figure out that she is actually in love with Captain Goodfellow. Lady Eslanda is terrified, but she tells Lord Spittleworth that she will tell the king if the soldiers are killed. She goes back to her chambers, but she can’t sleep all night.

Lord Spittleworth is conflicted about what to do, but he eventually decides to go to bed and wait for the morning. Before he goes to sleep, he vows to get revenge on Lady Eslanda.

Chapter 20: Medals for Beamish and Buttons

The next morning, Lord Spittleworth tells King Fred that Herringbone has retired as Chief Advisor and named Lord Spittleworth as his successor. King Fred does not realize that Lord Spittleworth is lying, in fact he is relieved that Lord Spittleworth is taking control of the situation. The king stays in his room for the next few days, having his meals brought to his room and spending all his time thinking about what happened in the Marshlands.

After three days, Lord Spittleworth tells the king that Nobby Buttons had not been found, meaning he must have been eaten by the Ickabog. He declares that they must have a burial for both Major Beamish and Nobby Buttonsn and present each of their families with a “Medal for Outstanding Bravery Against the Deadly Ickabog.” Lord Spittleworth also gives a medal to King Fred. King Fred feels conflicted; he knows he did not actually behave bravely when he saw the Ickabog, but he would love his citizens to see him as a brave leader. He decides to go along with it.

The next day is declared a national day of mourning, and a funeral is held for Major Beamish and Nobby Buttons. Mrs. Beamish and Bert are presented with a medal, as is a person introduced to everyone as Nobby Buttons’ mother. This woman makes a big scene throughout the funeral, wailing and cursing the Ickabog. After the funeral, Mr. Dovetail hugs Mrs. Beamish and tells him how sorry he is, but Bert doesn’t allow Daisy to talk to him.

Once Mrs. Beamish and Bert arrive home, Mrs. Beamish lays down in bed and cries. Bert tries to comfort her, but nothing works. In his own bedroom, Bert sees the toy Ickabog that Mr. Dovetail made for him and he smashes it and sets it on fire. He vows to get revenge on the Ickabog.

Chapter 21: Professor Fraudysham

The day after the funeral, Lord Spittleworth tells King Fred that he has some suggestions for defending the kingdom against the Ickabog. His first suggestion is learning as much about the Ickabog as possible. He brings in a man named Professor Fraudysham, who is supposedly an expert on the Ickabog, though the narrator reveals that both this man and Nobby Buttons’ mother have actually been Lord Spittleworth’s butler in disguise. Professor Fraudysham gives a description of the Ickabog that is clearly based on what the king believes he saw in the Marshlands. When King Fred asks whether the Ickabog can speak since he has been hearing it speak in his dreams, the professor says that the Ickabog learned to speak by taking humans as prisoners and forcing them to give it English lessons.

The professor tells the king that the Ickabog has a very strong memory and remembers its victims that have gotten away. Additionally, the professor tells the king that if an Ickabog is killed, two Ickabogs form from its corpse. King Fred does not believe this at first, but Lord Spittleworth convinces him with flattery.

Lord Spittleworth tells the king that the first phase of the plan to protect the kingdom from the Ickabog entails hiring a Ickabog Defence Brigade that will patrol the edge of the marsh. This will cost an enormous amount of money, so Lord Spittleworth suggests taxing all the citizens of Cornucopia.

Analysis:

Rowling makes her social commentary very clear in this section of The Ickabog. Lord Spittleworth convinces Major Roach and most members of the Roayl Guard to lie to the citizens of Cornucopia about the Ickabog, which depicts how someone in power can cause those with less power to go along with a lie when they are scared for their lives and their families. Furthermore, she shows how a weak leader like King Fred can be corrupted by those around them, especially when they care too much about being seen as brave, popular, and in control. In just a few chapters, Lord Spittleworth's lies have turned Cornucopia, which was once said to be one of the happiest place in the world, into a kingdom full of fear, doubt, and secrecy. Rowling includes this social commentary or moral in the story so that children will be able to similar identify problems with their governments or societies.

Another moral that Rowling instills in her readers is that gossip travels quickly and stories often change as they pass from one person to another. Lord Spittleworth tells an innkeeper not to tell anyone else about the Ickabog killing someone, but he actually wants this story to spread around and cause fear so that he can take control of the situation. By the time the Royal Guard gets back to Chouxville, Rowling writes, "The Ickabog rumours had gained a lot of colour as they travelled south. Some people said that the Ickabog had killed three men, others that it had merely torn off somebody’s nose." Through this quote, Rowling reminds young readers to question whether gossip they hear is true, especially if it seems impossible.

When Daisy sees that Major Beamish is the member of the Royal Guard who has died, she rushes to Bert to warn him before he sees for himself. She likely does this out of empathy, knowing how difficult it is to lose a parent. She does not get to him in time, but even if she had, it seems that Bert is still not open to close friendship with her. This can be seen at the funeral for Major Beamish and Nobby Buttons; Daisy tries to speak to Bert, but he just stares at the ground. This leaves the reader wondering whether their relationship can ever be repaired.

Hetty, a servant woman, plays an important role in this section of The Ickabog. She is the person who overhears Lord Spittleworth telling Mrs. Beamish about Nobby Buttons and reports this to Captain Goodfellow. She then risks her safety to spy on Lord Spittleworth further as he threatens the Royal Guard, and she brings this information to Lady Eslanda. Hetty's low social status is shown by only being referred to by her first name, in contrast to those who are referred to by a title, like Lord Spittleworth or Major Beamish, or by an honorific and a last name, like Mrs. Beamish. Because she has low social status, she is more at risk for harsh punishment, so it is very brave of her to take these actions. However, this low social status also allows her to eavesdrop, since Lord Spittleworth seems not to notice those who cannot help him increase his level of status and power.

An important theme of this section of The Ickabog is revenge. Two chapters in a row, Chapter 19 and Chapter 20, end with characters telling themselves they will get revenge: Lord Spittleworth on Lady Eslanda and Bert on the Ickabog. It is interesting to see these two characters paralleled in this way, since Lord Spittleworth is an antagonist in the story and Bert is a protagonist. These declarations of revenge also create suspense for the chapters of The Ickabog that come next, since the reader becomes curious about what the characters will do and whether they will achieve the revenge they desire.