A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by

Mark Twain

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
To show his appreciation for the meal, Hank gives the freemen three pennies (by now he has the kingdom using American monetary values). They give him a flint and steel and help him mount his horse. Finally underway again, Hank gratefully uses the flint to light his pipe. But when he puffs its smoke, the freemen run away in terror, assuming that he is a dragon. Hank calms them down by explaining that he only uses enchantments like this against his enemies.
The freemen confirm Hank’s low opinion of medieval intelligence when they take him to be a dragon because he’s smoking a pipe. Yet again, Hank finds that fear is a potent source of power. And while he calms the men down, he doesn’t take the opportunity to correct or educate them. He might profess a desire to create a knowledgeable, self-governing society, but he frequently takes advantage of ignorance and fear to enhance his own power instead.
Themes
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
Hank and Sandy spend the night with a holy hermit before resuming their journey. At midafternoon on the following day, Sandy warns Hank to defend himself. A short way off, some knights are preparing to challenge him. Hank lights his pipe, and when the knights charge, he shoots a stream of smoke through the bars in his helmet. Like the freemen, they scatter in fear, waiting just outside of Hank’s range. He wants to leave immediately before they regather their wits and attack again, but Sandy explains that he has defeated them. She goes to talk to the knights on his behalf, explaining that they’ve met “The Boss” and must now turn themselves in at Camelot to wait for Hank’s return.   
The trick with the smoke that proved so effective with the freemen allows Hank to defeat this bunch of knights without any violence—and also without him having to engage in hand-to-hand combat, where the knights (trained since childhood in wearing armor and wielding swords) would have a distinct advantage. Again, Hank uses fear to control others and assert his power and dominance over them.
Themes
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon