The Buried Giant

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Saxons were Germanic people from Continental Europe who began invading and occupying land in England after the Romans left. Saxons were often targeted by Britons, who were native to England and did not want the Saxons to stay. Competing land claims were at the center of a number of Saxon-Briton wars for several centuries. The Saxons were considered pagans because they chose not to convert to Christianity and they typically isolated themselves from the Britons. Despite a number of extremely violent and bloody wars, eventually peace was established between the Saxons and Britons in England.

Saxon Quotes in The Buried Giant

The The Buried Giant quotes below are all either spoken by Saxon or refer to Saxon. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Buried Giant published in 2015.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Even so, sir, isn’t it a strange thing when a man calls another brother who only yesterday slaughtered his children? And yet this is the very thing Arthur appears to have accomplished.”

“You touch the heart of it just there, Master Wistan. Slaughter children, you say. And yet Arthur charged us at all times to spare the innocents caught in the clatter of war. More, sir, he commanded us to rescue and give sanctuary when we could to all women, children and elderly, be they Briton or Saxon. On such actions were bonds of trust built, even as battles raged.”

Related Characters: Wistan (speaker), Sir Gawain (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Gawain’s First Reverie Quotes

“These cursed Saxons. Why fight on this way with only Death to thank them for it?”

“I believe they do so for sheer anger and hatred of us,” he says. “For it must be by now word has reached their ears of what’s been done to their innocents left in their villages. I’m myself just come from them, so why would the news not reach also the Saxon ranks?”

“What news do you speak of, Master Axl?”

“News of their women, children and elderly, left unprotected after our solemn agreement not to harm them, now all slaughtered by our hands, even the smallest babes. If this were lately done to us, would our hatred exhaust itself? Would we not also fight to the last as they do, each fresh wound given a balm?”

Related Characters: Axl (speaker), Sir Gawain (speaker)
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

“Master Axl, what was done in these Saxon towns today my uncle would have commanded only with a heavy heart, knowing of no other way for peace to prevail. Think, sir. Those small Saxon boys you lament would soon have become warriors burning to avenge their fathers fallen today. The small girls soon bearing more in their wombs, and this circle of slaughter would never be broken. Look how deep runs the lust for vengeance! […] Yet with today’s great victory a rare chance comes. We may once and for all sever this evil circle, and a great king must act boldly on it. May this be a famous day, Master Axl, from which our land can be in peace for years to come.”

“I fail to understand you, sir. […] This circle of hate is hardly broken, sir, but forged instead in iron by what’s done today.”

Related Characters: Axl (speaker), Sir Gawain (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 213-214
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Buried Giant LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Buried Giant PDF

Saxon Term Timeline in The Buried Giant

The timeline below shows where the term Saxon appears in The Buried Giant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...and forests. Beatrice leads the way because she knows how to get to the nearest Saxon town. She continually calls back to Axl to make sure he’s close behind her and... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...tells her they’re going to their son’s village but will seek shelter at a nearby Saxon village for the night. Suddenly, the woman grabs a rusted knife and puts it against... (full context)
Chapter 3
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Saxon village, notes the narrator, looks more like a traditional village: it’s made of houses and... (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
As they approach the gate, the Saxon guards look “panicked,” so Beatrice insists that she go up alone and Axl wait for... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Beatrice finds the medicine woman and they talk together in the Saxon language (which Axl can’t understand) for a while before the woman leads Beatrice toward her... (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...tells him that the warrior arrived shortly before they did, and that he is a Saxon from a distant part of the country. Beatrice also explains that, earlier in the day,... (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...before they know it, they are surrounded by guards. Axl panics, but Beatrice speaks in Saxon to one of them. They hear shouting from somewhere and an elderly man appears, scolding... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...and wonders if it’s because he’s old or because he’s “a Briton living here among Saxons” that he seems to remember more than those around him. Axl notes that he and... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...have said about the mist. Axl asks Beatrice if Ivor has always lived with the Saxons and Beatrice tells him it’s only been since Ivor married a Saxon woman, but she... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...finish what he had been saying earlier about the mist. Ivor says that a strange Saxon had come through the year before and was really interested in why the people in... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...“our language” very well. Wistan, catching himself staring, tells Axl that although Wistan is a Saxon, he lived among Britons for many years. Axl also notes that Wistan wears his sword... (full context)
Chapter 5
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...King Arthur had been his uncle. Wistan tells Sir Gawain that even though he’s a Saxon, he holds King Arthur in high esteem. (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...get into a fight with Lord Brennus or his soldiers on account of being a Saxon in Briton-ruled territory. Furthermore, Wistan has been asked by his king to look into rumors... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...well-respected one everywhere he’s gone because he had been so generous even after defeating the Saxons. As they talk about Arthur, Axl discovers a “fragment of a memory” of himself being... (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Beatrice tells Wistan that there are several Saxon families in their own village and he points out the prosperity of the Saxons in... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...his duty, only rushing after them once he remembered that he was looking for a Saxon warrior and a young boy. (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Axl explains to the grey-haired soldier that he doesn’t think the Saxons he’s traveling with are the ones the soldier is looking out for because they were... (full context)
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
Turning away from the dead soldier, Wistan tells Sir Gawain that the Saxon king has also received word that Lord Brennus wants to wage war and take the... (full context)
Chapter 6
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...explains that the building had not always been a monastery but was very likely a Saxon fort with traps to keep the inhabitants safe and trap invaders. Wistan states, “This is... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...realizes it’s the truth. Wistan goes on to say that, in times of war, the Saxon families would have stood in the yard to “witness the invaders squeal like trapped mice”... (full context)
Chapter 7
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...but they have to hurry and do as he says. Father Brian says the “older Saxon brother” is trapped but is distracting the soldiers. Father Brian tells them to leave their... (full context)
Chapter 8
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...circling up to the open top. Wistan said he thought this was once a trap: Saxons would lure bands of Briton soldiers in after filling the moat with firewood, run up... (full context)
Gawain’s First Reverie
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...“young maid” who was determined to get onto the battlefield to get revenge on a Saxon lord for what he did to her mother and sisters. Sir Gawain tried to persuade... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
As Sir Gawain watched Edra kill the Saxon, Axl appeared on the battlefield. Axl was without a shield and showed no interest in... (full context)
Chapter 10
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...hated him. To do this, Brennus told the other boys that Wistan was really a Saxon and they turned against him. As revenge, one day Wistan caught Brennus alone and stood... (full context)
Chapter 15
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...upon us!” Axl tells Beatrice they should go to him. Sir Gawain tells him the “Saxon warrior” will be there soon and then tells Axl that he remembers the night Axl... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...“acts of a great king.” The three shout over each other until the warrior and Saxon boy arrive and shout over them. Everyone falls silent and looks at the warrior and... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
Denial and Rewriting History Theme Icon
...it “dark.” Sir Gawain rejects this idea and points out that, because of Merlin’s work, Saxons and Britons live side by side in peace. (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...Beatrice asks what he means and Wistan says that “justice and vengeance await” and the Saxons are planning a conquest, made possible by the returning memories of Saxons all over the... (full context)
Memory, Truth and Justice Theme Icon
War, Peace, Vengeance, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Love and Hatred Theme Icon
...once well buried, now stirs.” Once that giant rises, all the friendships and relationships between Saxons and Britons will be torn asunder and violence will break out. Wistan notes that this... (full context)