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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 3

Summary and Notes

The author notes that Uncle Dap, Lancelotís trainer, is similar to Merlyn and St. Toirdealbach. He is the only one who understands Lancelotís seriousness and discipline, and he is an expert on fighting in the old school way.

Years pass, and Lancelot is now 18. One day he is summoned to the court where his mother (whose name is Elaine, not to be confused with other Elaines in the novel), and several guests, including Merlyn, are waiting. As a sidenote, his mother calls him ďGalahad;Ē apparently this is his given name.

Merlyn tells the group that Lancelot will grow up to be the best knight in the world. Sitting by the wizardís side is Nimue. She is the witch who Merlyn prophesied would kidnap him; they are taking a break from their honeymoon.

Lancelot asks if they have come from Arthurís court, and Merlyn says that he has. Merlyn adds that from Arthurís marriage to Guenever (this is the first the reader hears of it), he has a gift of a round table. Merlyn tells the boy that there is still room at the table if he would like to join.

Lancelot asks if Gawaine, whom he fought when he was young at Pellinoreís wedding, has already been asked to join the Knights of the Round Table. Merlyn says that Gawaine was made a night on the day Arthur was married. Shortly thereafter, Merlyn and Nimue disappear.

Lancelot tells Dap that he is going to run away that night without his motherís permission and go to England to be Knight of the Round Table.

The scene flashes forward to a week later when the two men are on a boat in the middle of the English Channel.

In this chapter, the reader sees again the surprising unlikebility of Lancelot. In an earlier chapter, Arthur was put off by Lancelotís apparent apathy about becoming a knight, not recognizing his strong emotions that he was hiding. In the first three chapters of Book Three, Lancelot is portrayed as serious to a fault and ugly besides. In Merlynís conversation with Lancelot, the wizard is taken aback by the boyís unresponsiveness to his offer to join Arthurís court. Only the reader and Dap are privy to the passion inside Lancelotís soul at this point.

Chapter 4

Summary and Notes

Lancelot is bitter about not being chosen first, or, at least, earlier, to be a knight for King Arthur. He is angry with Gawaine for being knighted first and he is angry with Guenever because of his hero-worship of Arthur.

Uncle Dap travels by Lancelotís side as his squire. The two men stop at a clearing where a knight clad in black stands. The black knight challenges Lancelot and the two charge each other. Uncle Dap is confident in Lancelotís abilities and watches the charge from the sidelines. Lancelot, on the other hand, is feverish with excitement, for this is his first charge. Lancelot wins easily.

The black knight stands up cheerfully and congratulates Lancelot; it is King Arthur. In a flash, Lancelotís anger has vanishes and the two are great friends. This is the third time in a novel where the illogic of men fighting and then becoming best friends in explored: Grummore and Pellinore; Kay and Arthur; now, Lancelot and Arthur.

Lancelot is promptly knighted at Camelot and is introduced to Guenever. Guenever is dark haired and bold. Lancelot does not like Guenever because he believes that she stole the King from him. Arthur urges the two to be friends.

The conversation turns quickly to the Orkney faction. Morgauseís sons have become members of the Round Table, and the King has immense sympathy for them because of their neglectful upbringing. He does acknowledge, however, that there is a bit of a problem with keeping them under control. Gawaine has killed an innocent woman, and none of the young men seem to understand the idea of chivalry without violence. To complicate matters, Pellinore accidentally killed Lot in a joust, and the Orkney boys are out for revenge against the Pellinore clan.

A few weeks later, Lancelot is out falconing. He has been given a faulty bird - an old and fat one. He is trying to train the flacon, when Guenevere joins him. She has been coached by Arthur to be friendly to Lancelot - to try and draw him out of his shell. She tries to help Lancelot by holding the string that he uses to train the falcon.

Lancelot doesnít take much notice of Guenevere, until he notices that she is no good with hawks and is hindering his progress more than helping him. He snaps at her, and she is visibly hurt.

This is the point at which Lancelot begins to fall in love: Lancelotís tough exterior is suddenly penetrated by the idea that he can hurt another person, and that Guenever is a real person with real feelings. She is his first emotional contact with a human being, and is thus indelibly engraved into his heart.

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