Howl's Moving Castle // Chapters 11 - 15 Discussion

Welcome back to the Howl's Moving Castle discussion. The first discussion on chapters 1-5 can be found here. The second discussion on chapters 6 - 10 can be found here. I'm late again but I'll give myself leeway and say the next one will be up Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. 

Last time Howl had a temper tantrum and covered everything in green slime. Sophie finally realized that Howl didn't eat girl's hearts. Martha and Michael are in love. Meanwhile Howl is trying to win Lettie's love. A scarecrow frightens Sophie. Howl worries about Sophie. Michael and Sophie try to catch a falling star because of a spell thought to have been given to him by Howl. Calcifer hints at his contract with Howl. Lastly, Howl is about to take Michael and Sophie to the one door they haven't gone through. Of course, spoilers ahead.

Chapter 11: In Which Howl Goes to a Strange Country in Search of a Spell

This chapter through me for a loop. It's interesting how Diana Wynne Jones incorporates the world we know and the fantasy world. Howl takes us to meet his sister Megan, his niece Mari, and his nephew Neil. They live in a world of television and computer games. By the end of the chapter we discover that the Witch of the Waste sent the spell though this portal - his original home. He finds that Ms. Angorian who happens to be the Wizard Sullivan, the missing wizard who went looking for the prince, fiance. She knows what black arts are and her fiance has been missing for years. We find out that Howl is turning ten thousand years old. Now, this has to mean that Howl ages more rapidly in the fantasy world we are used to. His original home, if he leaves it's probably a few months. I did not expect this twist in the story. Howl or really Howell has a much more interesting back story than the nonexistent one in the movie.

I liked the bit where Howl gives his nephew a computer game based on his life. One where there is a moving castle and four dimensions. You know, I never thought about it but all those portals are from different worlds. Of course it's possible that there was one without magic.

Chapter 12: In Which Sophie Becomes Howl's Old Mother

Interestingly enough Mrs. Pentstemmon is Howl's teacher and a good one at that. I think I was thinking of the movie too much to realize that she might care about Howl. She says his vanity shows a flaw in him that can lead him into the black arts. Lead him into going bad. I was surprised that Sophie just decided to tell her about the contract he had with a fire demon. My this girl is impulsive.

Mrs. Pentstemmon says something has happened to him and I'm determined to set things right before I die. Then she says she noticed Sophie's gift. I knew Sophie had magic in her! And of course Sophie's like, "that makes sense." Sophie's hard to read sometimes. Either she's overly emotional or she accepts her lot in life calmly. Sophie thinks of the suit she helped make for Howl and thinks it's the reason why Lettie was looking at Howl adoringly. Interesting. Well it makes sense like with the hats. Her power comes from her skills as a seamstress.

At the end of the chapter we see Howl worried once again. That makes me happy to no end.

Chapter 13: In Which Sophie Blackens Howl's Name

Sophie goes to blacken Howl's name and ends up simultaneously calling out all of Howl's faults as well as complimenting him. The king is unconvinced and he makes him the Royal Wizard which was exactly what Howl didn't want. How unlucky can she get!

Then, here comes the Witch of the Waste who basically declares she killed Mrs. Pentstemmon. She mentions that Sophie was preventing getting information she needed that she didn't know she had. I'm curious what that was about. Since Sophie has magic did she have a protection over herself? Did her magic cause some changes in the world with the hats she was selling to people? Or was it that she discovered that she was going to be important to Howl?

Chapter 14: In Which a Royal Wizard Catches a Cold

Howl has a cold and acts like the child we all know him to be. There was some interesting new discoveries within this chapter. First, Sophie put on Howl's suit or whatever and Calcifer starts cackling. Now we figure out later that the spell has to do with Howl falling in love. I have a feeling that Calcifer could see her true form. He knows now that she will be the one who breaks the spell, freeing him.

Then there is the dog man who is Lettie's love. I would like to see who he is and how his spell will be broken. Everyone seems to be under a spell these days.

Lastly, we see that Howl has a window in his room that shows him his family. Howl becomes infinitely more likable as the tragic hero, but he made his choice. Will he able to ever reveal to his family who he really is?

Chapter 15: In Which Howl Goes to a Funeral in Disguise

The dog man is overprotective of Sophie. Sophie says that she's told him that she won't be able to break his spell. Maybe he understands who she is and if her sister can't break his spell then maybe she can. It's interesting that the dog man is preventing her from going near Howl. I'm curious to the exact reason. Maybe he senses the bad growing in him.

The cutest moment out of all these chapters is when Howl asks Sophie if she has any preferences to where she would like to live. She responds as wanting a nice house with lots of flowers. Adorable. He considered what she wanted, not what he wanted.

It looks like the hat business is a bust after Sophie left. That's what her stepmother gets. I find it so serendipitous that Sophie will finally go back home. Everything is coming full circle.

Howl dresses all in black and even has black tissues (so melodramatic) and heads to the funeral. We finally get to see Howl in his natural hair color. Mind you, he turns into a dog as a disguise but I expect him to be found out. I'm about three fourths of the way into the story so I'm expecting things to heat up.

What do you think of the story so far?
Were you as shocked as me when discovering what's in the portal they all go through?


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