The Buried Giant

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Buried Giant: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Axl watches the goat munching on the grass while he and Beatrice rest. Looking down at the countryside, Beatrice asks if the river had only carried them a short distance, and Axl explains that they were stopped before they could finish their trip. Axl worries that the young girl hid the “true hardship” of taking the goat back up the mountain, but Beatrice says they can’t blame her because she’s just a child and has “more cares that one her age should bear.” Looking down at the valley, Beatrice and Axl notice some large black figures, but can’t agree about whether they are soldiers or birds. Axl again talks about the young girl, but says he can’t blame her because she had helped them when they were “soaked and shivering” and because the girl wasn’t the only one anxious “to have this goat go up to the giant’s cairn.” Beatrice says she’s still anxious for this to happen because it would be “a fine thing” for Querig to die and the mist to be lifted.
Beatrice is rejuvenated by the prospect of being able to be the one to kill Querig and therefore make it possible for her and Axl to go to the island together because they will have their memories back. By deciding to take the goat up to the dragon instead of continuing to try to find their son’s village, Axl and Beatrice are showing that they value being able to remember the truth about the past over all else.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
In a flashback to that morning, Beatrice points out to Axl a cottage against the hillside that Axl initially mistakes for an entrance to a warren like the one they live in. In front is a fenced enclosure holding a goat who’s eating contentedly, and they spot three children, “unaware of their approach,” standing by a ditch and looking in. Beatrice asks Axl what the kids are doing and Axl predicts it’s “mischief.” Axl calls out a greeting, which surprises the children. However, the children become excited and say that they prayed for someone to come and help. Axl tells the young girl that he and Beatrice are just two travelers and asks the child to call their mothers so that Axl can ask if he and Beatrice can seek warmth and shelter there. The girl tells Beatrice and Axl that it’s just her and her brothers living there and insists that they go inside, get some food, and sit by the fire. Axl is reluctant, but the girl insists that he and Beatrice go inside.
Although there have been several instances of adults forgetting children thus far, this is the first time Axl and Beatrice have found children whose parents were the ones who wandered off. This is further proof that the mist is powerful enough to disrupt all families and separate parents from children. However, it also makes helping the children by bringing the goat up the mountain seem more appealing to both Beatrice and Axl.
Themes
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Back in the present on the hillside, Axl urges Beatrice to sit and rest instead of looking at the figures in the valley. Sitting next to Axl, Beatrice asks if he can believe that “before the great knights and warriors, it’s a weary old couple like us […] who may slay the she-dragon” with a goat. Axl shares Beatrice’s wonder, but also notes that the solution may have been in the girl’s head. Beatrice asks Axl if he’s afraid of what they will remember when the mist clears, but he tells her their story already has a happy ending. Beatrice agrees but says part of her is still afraid of what will happen when the mist clears, and Axl says he is more afraid of what Beatrice told him earlier. Beatrice says she can’t remember what she said and asks if they had a fight, but Axl won’t elaborate on it, saying that “it’s best forgotten.”
Axl’s statement that whatever happened between him and Beatrice that morning is “best forgotten” directly contradicts what they are trying to do, which is to remember everything again. However, it also means that Axl is becoming more and more sure that Beatrice will cease to love him when she gets her memories back. Axl has given up most of his hope, but his determination to help bring the goat to Querig because doing so will make Beatrice happy is evidence of how much he is willing to sacrifice for her happiness.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Back in the flashback, Beatrice is sleeping in the cottage while Axl dries their clothes and stokes the fire until it roars. Beatrice shoots awake and is bewildered for a moment before saying that she was “thinking of a night long ago” when Axl had left her, wondering if he would ever come back. Axl says this is the work of the pixies and Beatrice admits that he may be right, but that the memories are enough “to make [her] shrink from [him].” She asks Axl to keep a distance from her when they’re ready to walk on. Beatrice slips back to sleep quickly, leaving Axl to think about what she said, and he envisions them walking separately.
Beatrice’s remembrance confirms Axl’s worst fears: that he has deeply wronged her and that remembering it will make her want to leave him alone. It also means that their relationship was not always characterized by love, but there was a period in which Beatrice hated him, and it may or may not have been reciprocal.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
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Axl wakes up and sees Beatrice looking through a window. Axl recalls their previous conversation, but Beatrice shows no sign of remembering it. Watching the children from the window, Beatrice asks Axl what might have happened to their parents. Axl says it’s none of their business and that they should get going. Beatrice asks if they had fought about something, but Axl says it’s nothing they “can’t put aside” and that they might talk about it later. He urges her to get ready to leave. 
Axl wants to get Beatrice to leave quickly because he has a sense that if they stay, the children will compromise their current mission to find their son. Furthermore, Axl is anxious to get out of the environment that had called to Beatrice’s mind a past wrong that he had done her.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Once outside, Beatrice asks the children where their parents are, but they don’t answer. Beatrice asks what they keep looking at in the ditch and the oldest child says their goat is dead in there. She invites them to look, explaining that an ogre had stolen and eaten the goat after she fed the goat special leaves that would make it poisonous in the hope of using it to kill Querig. The children ask Axl and Beatrice if they will take their remaining goat up to the giant’s cairn and leave it for the dragon to eat. The girl also explains that killing Querig will help their parents remember them and finally come back home.
The children’s request that Axl and Beatrice bring the goat to Querig forces Axl to confront the inevitable: Querig will die and Beatrice will remember everything. Unfortunately, it also means that he will help, making him co-author in his own future unhappiness because he believes that restoring memories will directly lead to Beatrice hating him.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Axl refuses to help bring the goat to the giant’s cairn, saying they are too old to do it. Despite the pleading of the children, Axl leads Beatrice onto the road and they walk away for a while before Beatrice stops him. She asks Axl to think about how valuable the opportunity is. Doubtful, Axl says they don’t know if the goat will kill the dragon, but Beatrice reminds him that they just need to get the goat to the giant’s cairn and then leave, so they should turn back and take the goat up the mountain.
Even though Axl wants to get as far away from temptation as they can, he does not have the heart to deny Beatrice anything that she wants because, as the possibility of being separated grows nearer, he is beginning to value their current happiness more and more.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
As they climb the mountain with the goat, Axl wonders if “he had been foolish to give in.” Axl tells Beatrice that, in case they succeed, he wants her to promise him something. Beatrice asks what it is and Axl tells her that if they kill Querig and get rid of the mist, he wants her to promise not to forget how she feels about him in this moment and to keep it in her heart. Beatrice makes the promise and suggests they start walking.
The promise Axl asks Beatrice to make clearly tells both her and the reader about his real fear that she will forget their current happiness when her memories return, and that memories of the distant past will ruin the love they have in the present. However, this also shows how strongly Axl believes that he is the one who will need to be forgiven. He has not yet considered that he will be the one called on to do the forgiving.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Related Quotes