50 pages 1 hour read

Angela Carter

Nights at the Circus

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1984

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Part 3, Chapters 1-5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “Siberia”

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

On the Trans-Siberian Railway with the other circus members, Fevvers feels trapped and restless, stuck in a rail car in the middle of the snowy wasteland. Fevvers asks Lizzie if there’s anything she can do to speed the train up a little—Fevvers reveals that Lizzie is in possession of magic, implying that the earlier trick they played on Walser with the clock was accomplished by supernatural means. However, Fevvers, now the first-person narrator, clarifies that there’s a logic to Lizzie’s magic, a logic “of scale and dimension that won’t be meddled with, which she [Lizzie] alone keeps the key of” (199). It is referred to as Lizzie’s “household magic,” and implied that it’s less “magic” and more just advanced scientific thought.

Meanwhile, the clowns can do nothing but play cards all day, adrift without their leader Buffo and too depressed by his loss to plan new acts; they are waiting “for their Christ to rise again” (200). The Colonel is elated to at last be on the road to Siberia, the next leg of his planned circus conquest; however, in reality the circus is all in shambles. The Colonel has lost Buffo, he’s lost the tiger act, he’s lost the apes; and the circus’s elephants, the symbol of the Colonel’s domination at the Ludic Game, are weakening and dying due to the cold.