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Free Study Guide for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 15 "SANDY'S TALE"

Summary

When Morgan asks Sandy about the ambushing Knights and their history, she begins to tell him a story. Her tale, however, is very vague and rambling, so that he is bored. He tells her how to tell the story better. She listens to him but continues in her own style. After a while, the Boss falls asleep. Sandy is undaunted, continuing to tell the story till they approach a magnificent castle.

Notes

The chapter has no relevance to the main plot of the story, as most stories-within-stories do. Perhaps Twain added this chapter to denote the time lapsed between the encounter with the Knights and the visit to the castle. The chapter also reveals other facets of Sandy's personality: her abundant enthusiasm to narrate a story of adventure, and her fervent imagination. Her desire to relate a tale of romance and excitement is so great she is completely unaffected by the Boss's criticism and sleeping.

Sandy and the Boss are poles apart in their temperament. Morgan is curt and precise in his talk, while Sandy beats around the bush before giving an answer. Often he is impatient and demanding of her, and she is sweet and compliant with him. It is not until much later in the novel, when they marry, that the Boss shows much tenderness or affection for the young girl. The contrasts are simply outgrowths of the social differences from sixth century to modern times.


Sandy's anecdote about the knights rescuing a young girl of fifteen reminds the Boss of his past involvement with a girl of the same age. In his memory, he is called Hank. In actuality, this is the first time the Boss's name is mentioned in the text. The chapter thus gives a small glimpse into the past life of the Boss.

CHAPTER 16 "MORGAN LE FAY"

Summary

Before they can enter the castle, Sandy and the Boss see a knight and stop to teach him about advertising. The knight informs the travelers that the castle belongs to Morgan Le Fay, the wife of King Orien and the sister of King Arthur. Sandy and the Boss enter the castle with apprehensions, since they have heard about the wickedness and cruelty of Le Fay. When they meet her, they surprised that she is so pleasant and attractive. However, a little later, her cruelty is obvious. When an orderly brings her something on a silver platter, he misses his balance and falls down on her knee. She is outraged, punishing the orderly by stabbing him to death in front of everyone. As if nothing has happened, Le Fay continues to entertain her guests.

Sometime during the visit, The Boss commends the abilities of King Arthur inadvertently and earns the displeasure of Morgan Le Fay. Before the Boss is punished for his lapse, Sandy saves him by informing the queen that he is The Boss, whom she has heard of. Le Fay apologizes to him.

Notes

Once again, Twain is having some fun at the expense of medieval knighthood. The knights, who look forbidding in their attractive iron suits, are made to look ridiculous by the Boss, under whose instructions they display advertisements for toilet soaps on their armor. The knights play the part of efficient salesmen well by not only advertising their product but also giving demonstrations of it to inquisitive customers. The romantic and chivalrous knights are thus transformed into advertising robots.

The chapter introduces the character of Morgan Le Fay and exposes her dual personality. The mistress of the castle projects herself as a charming person and an amiable hostess but beneath this image, she hides a vengeful heart. She welcomes Sandy and her escort entertaining them with her charm, but when her servant trips and falls down on her knee, she is infuriated and kills him on the spot. Shortly after committing this heinous crime, she continues to talk pleasantly to her guests. She changes her personality within a matter of moments. Morgan Le Fay is characterized as a medieval sorceress with a beautiful face and a wicked soul. She is good to people who impress her, but she is intolerant towards those who hurt her ego. When the Boss casually praises the abilities of King Arthur, she gets angry and gives orders for his imprisonment.

It is at this point that Sandy once again comes to the rescue of the Boss. When the queen orders Hank to be taken to the dungeon, Sandy intervenes by introducing Hank Morgan as The Boss, the dreaded magician of Camelot of whom she has surely heard. The queen, fearing the wrath of the Boss, apologizes for her impulsive action.

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