The Buried Giant


Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Buried Giant: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Edwin can hear Wistan calling to him to slow down but he ignores him because Wistan is walking too slowly. Edwin is looking forward to reaching the top of a hill so that he can run down it, although he can’t recall their destination. Edwin also knows there is something he needs to come clean about to Wistan but can’t remember the details. Reaching the top of the hill, Edwin looks down and decides to break into a run for the trees in the distance. Suddenly, Edwin feels the wind knocked out of him and realizes Wistan is on top of him with his knee pressed into Edwin’s back. Wistan ties Edwin up so he can’t run away anymore. They walk on this way, with Edwin pulling forward and singing loudly.
Although the force that seems to be pulling Edwin forward is created by the venom of the dragon bite on his chest, Edwin is consumed by it and his earlier thought that it is leading him to his mother. Edwin’s inability to remember where exactly his destination is, however, is evidence that he is also falling under the sway of Querig’s breath.
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Edwin and Wistan enter the forest and walk on until they come to a clearing. Edwin wants to press on and follow his “hunter’s instincts,” but Wistan insists that they stop in the clearing and he ties Edwin to a tree to prevent him from running away. Edwin tells Wistan that he’s been lying about bringing him to Querig. Wistan asks him to explain, but Edwin can’t because he forgets what his confession was supposed to be. Wistan says that it’s because they’re so close to Querig and that he’ll forgive Edwin if he’ll only lead the way to the dragon. Edwin, however, says that he’s not leading Wistan to the dragon at all, but is tracking his mother, who had been taken away by Britons and “longs” to return to him. Wistan looks at Edwin strangely, almost as if he’s ashamed, but says nothing at first.
Wistan understands that, despite what he believes, Edwin is no longer tracking his mother, but Querig. Wistan’s shame can be attributed to the fact that he is deceiving Edwin and, by not telling him the truth, is setting him up for heartbreak in the near future.
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Wistan then tells Edwin that he’ll forgive Edwin’s deception if Edwin makes a promise to him. Edwin asks what the promise is, and Wistan replies that it’s to “carry in [his] heart a hatred of Britons.” When Edwin asks if this includes Britons who share bread with and protect him, Wistan says that it was Britons who “slaughtered our kind” and took their mothers away. Because of this, Wistan says they have a duty to hate the Britons and demands that Edwin promise to keep a hatred for Britons in his heart and never let it die out. Edwin agrees, but says he hears his mother calling. Wistan agrees to keep going forward, saying that even if they’re “too late for rescue, it’s still early enough for revenge.” Edwin again promises to hate the Britons and asks if they can keep going.
Wistan knows that they are not far from Querig and soon he will slay her, which will restore memories and bring war back to England. Even though Edwin feels he is being drawn forward by love, Wistan begs him to instead harbor hatred. In this way, Edwin is turned into another link in the chain of hatred that has bound the Britons and Saxons together for decades. Furthermore, Wistan’s statement about it being “early enough for revenge” is meant to prepare Edwin to commit some kind of violence.
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