A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by

Mark Twain

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
According to Hank, the country is full of “wandering liars” of both sexes. Sure enough, a woman soon appears at Camelot claiming that three one-eyed giants are holding her, her mistress, and 44 other noble and royal women captive in a distant castle. Although all the knights beg for the honor of the quest, the king (Arthur) assigns it to Hank. Clarence is as excited as Hank is annoyed.
Hank’s opinion that almost everybody is a wandering liar points back to the tall tales Sir Kay told of his capture. And Sandy’s tale does include a lot of unbelievable elements from the perspective of the 19th (or 21st) century. But to continue consolidating power, Hank must follow medieval conventions, including questing.
Themes
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
Hank calls for the young lady and asks her questions about the particulars of her account. He discovers that she’s very fuzzy on the details. Her name is Alisande la Carteloise (Hank will call her Sandy). She can’t acceptably explain how far or in which direction the ogres’ castle lies. Hank likes to think of things as having fixed locations, while Sandy claims that God gives things their directions from each other, and that fixed locations are a vain attempt to thwart his will. When Hank complains to Clarence that he can’t imagine how he’s supposed to find the castle without a map, Clarence explains that Sandy will accompany him to show him the way. Hank is worried about what people will think if he and Sandy ride off alone, and he suddenly remembers his girlfriend in Connecticut.
Like Clarence earlier, Sandy becomes an important guide and interpreter for Hank as he sometimes struggles to understand medieval conventions. In this way, she offers medieval training to augment Hank’s 19th-century training. But he asserts his dominance over her in several ways, including talking down to her and calling her by a shorter nickname to suit his own preferences. Sandy’s arrival also opens a sudden and unexpected window into Hank’s past, forcing him (and readers) to remember that he isn’t really a knight-errant and that this isn’t his rightful world.
Themes
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture  Theme Icon
The knights, good if childish creatures, eagerly give Hank pointers for his quest. They don’t seem to see how it’s illogical to give advice to a man they believe to be an all-powerful sorcerer. Tradition dictates that Hank will leave at dawn, but he’s late because he has so much trouble getting into his suit of plate armor, which is heavy and renders him nearly immobile. Hank realizes the plate armor may have been an ignorant choice on his part; as he’s dressing, he sees another knight outfitted for his own quest in a much more sensible outfit of chain mail. But Hank has no time to change. The others hoist him onto his horse, Sandy climbs up behind him, and they set off. 
Yet again, Hank’s interactions with the knights emphasize their childishness and lack of critical thinking skills, allowing him to feel. But Hank shows ignorance of medieval matters by selecting an inappropriate type of armor for his trip. This implies that he is, in effect, donning a costume to play a part. Once committed to the path, Hank can’t deviate from it—a character trait that will later get him in trouble—and he refuses to take the time to correct his mistake.
Themes
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
As they ride through the village, the local boys throw clods of dirt at them, and Hank wishes he could hop down and settle the score. But without a derrick (a tower with a hoist on it), he has no hope of remounting the horse.
The rude village boys offer a point of connection between the medieval past and Hank’s former world. But their disrespect also shows that in armor, Hank has become just another knight. Without the external appearance of his “Boss” role, his authority evaporates.
Themes
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
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