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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
BOOK ONE: THE SWORD IN THE STONE
Summary and Notes
Kay, fed up with Cully’s refusal to return, loses his temper and returns home. This leaves the responsibility of getting the bird to Wart, who understand the training involved in falconry, and feels guilty for taking the bird out in the first place. The bird flies deeper into the forest, and Wart is soon lost, but decides to not leave until he has retrieved the bird for Hob. Wart, becoming frightened as nightfall, imagines with typical medieval superstition the various creatures who inhabit the forest. One in particular he is afraid of is a man named Wat who bites off children’s noses and lives in the forest.
As Wart nestles beneath a tree to go to sleep for the night, he is nearly killed by a flying black and yellow arrow. He becomes very frightened and homesick.
Just as Wart is becoming desolate, he spies in the clearing a knight dressed in all white armor on a white horse. Wart is in awe at the knight’s beauty. Wart begins talking to the knight, who is also lost. The knight’s name is King Pellinore, and he comes from the Pellinore family, who has been searching for a “Questing Beast” for generations. This animal is an amalgamation of several different woodland animals. The way to catch a Questing Beast, Pellinore tells Wart is to use a brachet (a hunting dog), but Pellinore’s brachet is entirely too friendly an uninterested in hunting to catch the beast.
Such is Pellinore’s problem, and he becomes increasingly sad as he describes in predicament to Wart. Pellinore thinks aloud that he has not slept indoors and in a bed for seventeen years, and Wart offers him use of Ector’s castle. The two are ready to set off together, when Pellinore spots the Questing Beast and disappears into the forest, leaving Wart alone again.
The author begins a satire of the knighthood and chivalry that extends through Book One and Two. Pellinore’s quest is futile and self-defeating, and the amount of time he has spent on it absurd. Still, Wart is admiring because the knighthood is every medieval boy’s dream.
In this chapter Wart’s personality is developed further; the reader sees his sense of right and duty when he stays in the forest all night, and his sense of generosity and friendship in his treatment of the hapless Pellinore.