A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Novel Summary: Chapter XXIX-XXXV

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Chapter XXIX-XXXV

 

Summary
The king and Hank come across a hut on their travels and enter it. Inside, an emaciated woman informs them that the hut is under a Church ban, which means nobody is allowed to enter under prohibition of the church. When the men open the shutter they see she has small pox. The king insists on staying and reveals his knightly honor. It transpires the woman's husband has died and the king brings her half-dead daughter down from the upper floor; the other daughter has died already. The woman's sons have been falsely imprisoned by the lord of the manor for chopping down trees and the family's crops perished, as they had to harvest the lord's before their own. In addition to these catastrophes, the woman 'uttered a deep blasphemy' ten days ago and the priest reported her for it. This incurred the Church ban. The chapter ends with the death rattle of the daughter.

By midnight the woman has also died, in Chapter XXX, and their home has to be the grave for these four family members because they cannot have a Christian burial. On their departure, the king and Hank see the sons, who had been imprisoned, knocking on the door. As the king and Hank continue on their journey they see several men hanging from trees and it is reported that there is a fire at the manor house.

When they stop at a hovel, a woman explains the events of the previous night. After the fire the master was found murdered and a mob was formed to seek retribution. In all, 18 men have been found hung or butchered. Hank is depressed at the community (including the man and woman who live in the hovel) because they are willing to turn on their own class. He compares the behavior of the mob to that of the 'poor whites' in 'our South'. The man from the hovel explains that he helped hang the men last night because he was frightened for his own life. However, he does not want to assist in hunting for the three escaped men (the sons of the woman from the hut) as he is related to them.

In Chapter XXXI, it is revealed that the man from the hut who joined in with the mob rule is called Marco (and his wife is Phyllis) and this short chapter consists of Hank getting to know people in the area and inviting them to dinner at Marco's home. The events of the dinner are described in Chapter XXXII. Hank has spent a lot of money on various items, such as a new tablecloth, stools etc, and this has the intended effect of inspiring awe in the guests and jealousy in Dowley in particular.

Chapter XXXIII continues to follow the events of the dinner party and delineates a discussion of political economy between the men whilst the king sleeps. The guests explain that they have a protection system whereas the king's realm is moving towards free trade. Hank frightens the men when he argues against the protection system. It is seen as threatening when he argues that paying more than the magistrate declares is deemed punishable by the pillory.

In order to divert the men from feeling uncomfortable, Hank explains how to use a miller-gun in Chapter XXXIV. Once the king has woken and begins to talk strangely about agriculture as he tries (and fails) to maintain his disguise, Hank realizes that they are in danger once more. Hank and the king are attacked, whilst Marco and his wife leave to fetch the mob. The king and Hank flee with the mob chasing them with dogs. The mob is stopped from further harming these two by a lord (Lord Grip).

The next day the king and Hank are given an escort to Cambenet for supposed safety. The band of slaves is in the square and the servants of the lord handcuff the king and Hank in order to sell them as slaves. The law insists that they have to prove they are freemen, which they are unable to do. Hank recalls how, in his own time, a slave auction had made no impression on him, but it is now that he has become enslaved. The slave dealer buys both of the men and, therefore, they have to join his procession.

Chapter XXXV continues to elaborate on their time spent as slaves. Initially, the king is most bothered by the fact that his price was so low. After a month of terrible treatment, the king decides he wants to abolish slavery. Hank now decides to escape. He wanted the king to see the horrors of slavery before finding freedom. Before escape is possible, horrific incidents of injustice are described. A young woman with a baby, for example, is taken to the gallows for stealing cloth; she is hung for this crime.

Analysis
These chapters are mainly concerned with the adventures of the king and Hank whilst they are disguised as freemen. Because of the subject matter, which examines mortality, the inequities of the feudal system, the dangers of mob rule and the cruelty of the church, humor is barely drawn upon. Instead, these chapters offer a social critique of the period in which it is set and written. Slavery of the 6th Century, for example, is made parallel with that of the 19th Century. The novel uses the allegory of Hank's experience, therefore, to question the contemporary practice of slavery and the abuse of power.

It is also in these chapters, where the humor gives way to political questioning, that Hank offers another perspective of King Arthur. His gallantry towards the dying woman is noted and is the first instance of the narrative being favorable towards this legendary figure.The practice of mob rule is also examined and deconstructed. The fear that lies behind the decision to join a mob rather than stand against it is referred to with Marco's reasoning. A further salient point is made with Marco's decision to join the mob when Hank compares Marco and Phyllis's choice to the action of poor whites in the South of the United States.

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