The Buried Giant

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Buried Giant: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Edwin sits at the top of a tree, admiring the view of his village. The old woman is telling him not to climb any further, but the warrior had told him to keep watch from a height. From this vantage point, Edwin can see three soldiers guarding a bridge and arguing with a rider. The tree Edwin is in reminds him of Steffa, an elderly man who had been crippled but had the spirit of a warrior. Steffa had seen the same spirit in Edwin and predicted that someday he’d “become one to fear.”
Edwin, it seems, remembers a number of things from his past, namely his friendship with an elderly man in his village. Although he has undoubtedly been introduced to Beatrice, Axl, and Wistan by name, he doesn’t refer to them by name, instead putting a distance between himself and them by referring to their age and professions when describing them, even to himself.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Edwin thinks back to the events leading up to his departure from the village. His aunt, who cared for him since his mother left, had cursed him, and Elder Ivor was forced to drag him away and push him inside a barn for his own safety. In the barn, Edwin listened to the others throw rocks at the building. For hours Edwin had turned a wheel in the barn, hallucinating his mother’s voice. Just as he felt that he was about to collapse with exhaustion, Edwin’s mother’s voice told him to call for the warrior. A short time later, Wistan opened the barn doors and examined Edwin’s injury, which Wistan had made him promise not to talk about with the villagers. Wistan told him not to scratch the bite and to keep it clean, which Edwin agreed to.
Edwin hears his mother’s voice while he is locked in the barn, which means that he still feels a lot of love for her even though it’s been years since she left. His aunt found it easy to curse him and was happy enough to send him away, which could mean that they were never particularly close. The voice of Edwin’s mother told him to call to Wistan, which prompts him to see Wistan as his primary protector and the one he now owes the most loyalty to after his aunt cursed him earlier.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Edwin momentarily forgot how he received the wound, but after leaving the village he remembers being back in the cage he had been trapped in by the ogres. They had tormented him with a “vicious little creature” by allowing it into the cage to attack him periodically, and during the final attack the creature had bitten him. The bite doesn’t hurt, but it scared the people in his village so badly that he had to leave with the warrior. Edwin remembers Steffa’s prediction that he’d find someone to train him to be a warrior one day and he rejoices that, by leaving with Wistan, it seems to be coming true. Edwin looks back down at the old Britons and Wistan and wonders why they’re traveling together. He looks back to the soldiers on the bridge and realizes Wistan wanted to avoid them, which is why they weren’t on the main road. However, there will be no way around them if Edwin and Wistan want to go forward. Edwin hopes that he will find his mother on their journey.
Although Edwin seems to have maintained many of his long-term memories, including those of Steffa and his mother, it’s clear that he has trouble with short term memories because he somehow forgot how he was injured, which is notable because his abduction was clearly violent and traumatic. Edwin sees leaving with Wistan as an opportunity to live up to what he believes his potential is as a warrior. Just as Axl and Beatrice believe the love they have for their son will guide them to him, Edwin believes the love he has for his mother will guide him to her.
Themes
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon