A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court


Mark Twain

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Chapter 41 Summary & Analysis

Soon after Hank dispatches the ship for England, Hello-Central takes a turn for the worse, demanding all of Hank and Sandy’s attention for the next two and a half weeks. Hank explains that Sandy felt honor-bound to stay with him after he rescued her from the ogres, at least until another knight defeated Hank and claimed her. Eventually, he married her out of a sense that it was inappropriate for an unmarried couple to spend so much time traveling together. Thus, at first, he didn’t realize what a prize he was drawing. Sandy is “a flawless wife and mother,” and he shares a beautiful friendship with her. 
Hank’s partnership with Sandy was initially utilitarian. Only later did he come to appreciate Sandy for her personality. In a way, Sandy reads as a metaphor for medieval England; Hank is so busy trying to remake it into his image of the perfect 19th-century society that he fails to see and appreciate it for what it is. And even his praise—offered in vague and general terms—suggests that Hank doesn’t fully appreciate Sandy.
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 Sandy named the child “Hello-Central” because Hank would sometimes call that out in his sleep, and she thought he was saying the name of a long-lost darling. When she told Hank, he nearly died from the effort it takes not to laugh at her mistake. And when Sandy first used the telephone, Hank had to make up the quick lie that he’d ordered the phone salutation in honor of their daughter and her namesake.
Sandy’s fundamental misunderstanding of “Hello-Central” creates the humor of her daughter’s name. And it points to the cultural distance between sixth-century Britain and nineteenth-century America. But, by equating Hank’s daughter with his technological innovations, the novel subtly suggests his inability to appreciate what’s truly important in life.
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When Hello-Central fully recovers, Hank and Sandy feel an enormous sense of relief and gratitude. And then they realize that their ship still hasn’t come back, and there are no signs of any British vessels in the Channel either. Not knowing whether an invasion, earthquake, pestilence, or other disaster has struck, Hank leaves Sandy and Hello-Central in the safety of France, returning to England alone. When he arrives, the kingdom shows no signs of life, and Hank soon realizes that the island has been placed under something worse than war: “The INTERDICT!” Hank borrows a disguise from one of his servants and carefully makes his way through the dark, desolate, and damaged countryside to Camelot.
In the medieval period, the Roman Catholic Church exercised political authority through the application of “interdicts,” which were essentially proclamations that forbade a person, group of people, or country, from participating in the rites of the Church. It’s notable that Hank has servants form whom to borrow commoners’ clothing; it seems that a desire to grant everyone a vote is, in his mind, compatible with continuing to enforce social subjugation of the lower classes to the needs of the upper classes. And, when it's dangerous to be The Boss, he knows to fade into the background.
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