The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

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The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, the whole hunt gathers outside the castle in the frosty dawn. Master Twyti is a shriveled looking man—he is not particularly fond of his job. The whole castle shivers with excitement; boar-hunting is dangerous and unpredictable. Wart and King Pellinore can barely eat, while Sir Ector and Sir Grummore eat with gusto—Kay misses breakfast all together.
Boar hunting is one of the peculiar sports of medieval England depicted in the book. It is a sport, yet unnecessarily cruel. Indeed, during Arthur's reign, there is no mention of boar hunting being practiced at all.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
The entire household and all the villagers turn out for the event—even Robin Hood. Finally, they reach the boar's lair. The hounds are uncoupled and silence descends. After a few minutes, a black boar suddenly appears at the edge of the clearing and charges Sir Grummore. The boar escapes the clearing and everyone runs after it. Wart sticks to the Huntsman like a burr—although everyone else quickly disappears into the foliage behind. Suddenly, a horn is blown and they come across the boar. The huntsman advances with a spear before him and the boar charges. With the boar on him and hounds surrounding him, Master Twyti disappears; Robin quickly draws his dagger and begins to thrust into the boar's side. Before long, the boar collapses to the ground.
The boar's death is exciting and dramatic for Wart. Yet, it is also depicted as cruel and unfair—the boar is killed by Robin Hood when its back is turned. This type of death will re-occur later in the novel—a murder committed cowardly.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Master Twyti crawls free of the boar, clutching one of the dogs, Beaumont, who has been killed. The Huntsman begins to cry. The foot-people soon gather and a small barrel of wine is provided. However, suddenly King Pellinore appears frantically, exclaiming the most horrible thing has happened. The gathering moves off after him and comes across King Pellinore crying and clutching the head of the questing beast in his lap.
The Questing Beast has been absent from the novel ever since Pellinore was convinced by Sir Grummore to stay with him by the comfort of a feather bed.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
King Pellinore says that he had not meant to leave the questing beast alone, and he angrily blames Sir Grummore's feather bed for the beast's illness. The band gathers the questing beast up and transports it back to the castle.
Pellinore's commitment to his quest is somewhat farcical—he was willing to give it up over a feather bed. But in the questing beast's illness it is made symbolically clear that a quest can only have meaning or continue to exist if the questor is devoted to it. Inattention will kill the quest.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
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