The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Wart is woken later by Archimedes, who gives him a mouse to eat. Wart, finds himself with wings and flies uneasily to join Archimedes at the window sill, but instead plummets straight through the window. Having righted himself, Wart and Archimedes fly leisurely over the land. While they fly and then land on a branch, Archimedes gives Wart a lecture about flight in birds while he absentmindedly spies for his dinner.
With each adventure as an animal, Wart not only learns about leadership and right and wrong, but also learns how to use his body in new and different ways. These experiences will help him later when he tries to pull the sword from the stone.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
The place Archimedes takes Wart to is absolutely flat and only one element lives there: the wind. The wind here is a power. Standing facing it, Wart feels that he is uncreated and that he is living in nothing but chaos. Away to the east is an unbroken wall of sound—the huge, remorseless sea.
This long lyrical passage about the destructive nature of wind on the self is in a way representative of Arthur's entire endeavor. The chaos he attempts to control will break his individuality and he will become only the King—a person to enact the idea but not to live his own life.
Themes
Fate (Time) Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
When daylight comes, Wart finds himself standing among a crowd of beautiful, white geese. When the goose next to him takes-off, he follows suit and flies with her pack. They land in a coarse field and take it in turns to eat and stand guard. The young female goose next to Wart pecks him—he has been on sentry twice as long as he should have. Wart confesses to her this was his first day as a goose. He asks if they are at war, because of the sentries. She is confused, of course they do not fight against each other and rarely against other birds! But, Wart exclaims, wouldn't it be fun to go to battle? The goose, disgusted, turns away. Wart tries to apologize; the goose (whose name is Lyo-lyok) explains that to kill another goose would be unnatural, it would be murder!
Lyo-Lyok's reaction to Wart's question is somewhat jarring, even for the reader. It is so ingrained in us that humans fight other humans, that the idea of never fighting one's kind is unbelievable. Yet, although it is jarring, it is also correct—we each recognize how unnatural warfare is against other humans, but it is still done and accepted.
Themes
Chivalry, Satire & Medieval Life Theme Icon
Might vs. Right Theme Icon
War Theme Icon