A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Novel Summary: Chapter XXI-XXVIII

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Chapter XXI begins comically as confusion arises between Sandy and Hank. They stay at a castle with their hogs, and Hank eventually discovers that this is not Sandy's home, after all, but is the home of strangers. On their way home, they come across a procession of pilgrims. Sandy explains that they are travelling to the Valley of Holiness and the history of this valley is then explained. A bath was constructed centuries ago, but this was seen as a sin. (It is noteworthy that Hank reiterates throughout the novel that the populace of this time do not like washing). The water stopped running and it was believed it was the fault of the bath. The bath was destroyed and the waters ran again. The pilgrims travel now to see the miracle.

The narrative shifts momentarily to another group of people. These are slaves in chains and have walked 300 miles in 18 days. An indictment of slavery follows this observation.

Sir Ozana le Cure Hardy then appears and tells Hank that he is needed at the Valley of Holiness. The waters have stopped running once more and Merlin has tried and failed to make them run again. Hank writes a message in Sir Ozana's hat to give to Clarence. He asks Clarence for chemicals and trained assistants.

In the following chapter, the fountain is described. It is an ordinary well in a dark chamber and Hank believes there has been a leak. Hank and his assistants restore the fountain in Chapter XXIII. This is finished by Sunday, as he believes a miracle is six times more valuable if occurring on this day. Fireworks are also used to enhance the 'miracle' of the returned water.

Hank visits the cave of a hermit in Chapter XXIV and accidentally discovers that the cave has a telephone link. Clarence tells him over the telephone that the king is setting up a standing army of nobility, and he is visiting to the Valley of Holiness. Hank uses the information of the king's journey to outwit a new, rival magician.

A parallel is drawn between the aristocracy and slaveholders in Chapter XXV when a description of the king favoring a bishop over a young girl in a court case is given. Democracy is argued for, where every man has a vote. If everyone has the right to vote, Hank believes brutal laws would not exist.

Hank then persuades the king to have his first regiment filled with nobles, and he could call it the King's Own. The rest of the army could be made up of 'nobodies'.

Chapter XXVI begins with Hank telling the king of his plans to travel in disguise as a freeman. The king wishes to come along for the adventure, but he must firstly perform the 'king's-evil business'. This is where the king gives alms to the sick and touches them to cure them. The importance of this procedure is outlined by Hank: 'Wherever you find a king who can't cure the king's-evil you can be sure that the most valuable superstition that supports his throne - the subject's belief in the divine appointment of his sovereign - has passed away.' Whilst waiting for the king to perform these duties, Hank reads his newspaper. He notes how he has changed as the paper demonstrates 'good Arkansas journalism', but he now sees it as too flippant.

The king and Hank set off as disguised freemen in Chapter XXVII. It becomes clear that the king has difficulty in acting like a peasant as well as looking like one. He refuses to back down to two knights, for example, and Hank has to resolve the altercation with the 'miracle' of a dynamite bomb thrown in their direction. The need to drill the king on the expected form of behavior for his new position is expanded upon in Chapter XXVIII. Hank tries to train him to keep his eyes on the ground and to stoop more.

In these chapters, Hank continues to maintain his position of power and performs the 'miracle' of restoring the waters and impresses the king with his dynamite bomb.

The social criticism continues also particularly when the king and Hank begin their adventure as disguised freemen. In order for the two to survive, Hank must teach the king to behave as his new position commands. Through the king's lessons the readers are exposed to the inequalities that maintain this unfair society. Because of the hierarchy where those without rank or title are regarded as being of no account, the knights fully expect these so-called freemen to know their lowly position.


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