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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 19

Summary and Notes

Two years pass, and the setting changes to Corbin Castle. Pelles and Bliant are snacking at discussing someone named the Wild Man.

The two men are speculating on the Wild Manís past. Bliant believes he was Lancelot, and Pelles reminds him that Lancelot has been dead for a year after being mauled by wild boars.

Bliant tells Pelles that the Wild Man came to him the previous summer, and that he spoke in the high language of chivalry, which proves that he was a gentleman in his previous life. The Wild Man also fought against Belias in self-defense when Belias first found him, and he fought exceptionally well, which lends credence to the theory that the Wild Man is Lancelot.

Belias adds that once the Wild Man was subdued, he went to sleep in Beliasís bed (scaring Beliasí wife). The royals cleaned him up and kept him for a year and a half in prison.

One day when Belias was out riding Sir Bruce and another bad knight attacked him. Sir Bruce was discussed early in Book Two as a symbol of the Force Majeur, or the old way of doing knighthood. The Wild Man escaped from prison - he broke the chains that held him - and fought Sir Bruce, winning.

Belias felt guilty about keeping the Wild Man imprisoned, and they let him stay on as a guest until one day he stole a horse and rode away. The two kings muse about whether the Wild Man could have been Lancelot.

The subject then changes: Pelles tells Bliant that his daughter Elaine is going to be received at a convent (made into a nun) next year, and she is coming to visit the following week.

The reader learns in this chapter what has happened to Lancelot. Although Pelles and Bliant believe he is dead, there is enough reasonable doubt, and the fact that the book is barely halfway through, that Lancelot must surely be the Wild Man. Having the characters discuss him at a distance is an effective, albeit slightly contrived device. Both men have objectivity about the situation that allows them to impart facts about what has happened clearly without emotions running amuck.

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