The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

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The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lancelot is riding towards Camelot with a bitter heart and Uncle Dap at his side. He has been at Camelot training in the Armory for two years now, but is yet to be noticed or knighted. He is jealous of Guenever, who always comes between Arthur's love for him. They come to a clearing in the woods and see an enormous knight in black armor with his tilting helm in position. Without any of the traditional jousting rituals, Lancelot prepares and takes position at the other end of the clearing and the two gallop towards one another. The point of his spear takes the black knight at exactly the right place and knocks him straight off his horse.
This is the only time in the book that White describes Arthur jousting, and even here he is disguised. It is as though Arthur must be distanced from all forms of knightly pursuits and any engagement in violence—and this only becomes more pronounced as Arthur ages. As illustrated here, Lancelot is the better knight and can beat Arthur easily.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
War Theme Icon
The knight does not get angry but simply laughs good-humoredly and looks with admiration at Lancelot. He takes his helmet off—it is King Arthur! Lancelot quickly kneels before him, but Arthur is so impressed with Lancelot's skill that he bids him stand. They ride back to Camelot together, talking all the way.
Other knights when they are dismounted in jousting typically curse and blaspheme—Arthur's reaction is to laugh. He, unlike other knights, has no egotism nor pride.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
Arthur knights Lancelot the very next day. He then introduces Lancelot to Guenever—a young woman with startling black hair and deep blue eyes. Lancelot is polite, but cold—he is still jealous of her.
It is ironic that Lancelot is at first jealous of Guenever because he thinks she comes between him and Arthur's love—considering the complex relationship that will develop between the three.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Weeks pass. In the second half of summer, Arthur gives Lancelot a hawk for the season. Lancelot, however, does not have a hawking assistant and so Guenever offers to act as Lancelot's (Arthur had asked her to be kind to Lancelot). One day, while hawking, Guenever becomes confused over the way to wind the rope. Lancelot, angered, lashes out at her violently. Guenever is deeply hurt and Lancelot, looking up, sees the kindness and hurt in her eyes and realizes she is not the deceitful minx he had made her out to be, but a real person.
The moment in which Guenever and Lancelot fall in love is peculiar—Lancelot begins to fall in love with her because he has hurt her; he witnesses the humanity in her and recognizes the thing about which he is ashamed (his sense of impurity) in her.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Quest and The Holy Grail Theme Icon
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