Sparknotes the once and future king book 1

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sparknotes the once and future king book 1

SparkNotes: The Once and Future King: Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 5–9

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A summary of Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 5–9 in T.

The birds all place a high premium on the importance of lineage and ancestry, and they refer to each other with military titles. Cully, who has been driven to the point of psychotic behavior, is referred to as Colonel, but even his military discipline cannot prevent him from acting on his murderous tendencies. White renders the battle between King Pellinore and Sir Grummore Grummursum ridiculous, using it to poke fun at traditional notions of knighthood. The fight is relatively pointless, since the knights turn a cordial conversation into a joust simply to satisfy the requirements of their social station. There is also humor in the way the fight unfolds, since each man is so heavily padded that he is barely able to hurt the other or even see well enough to avoid running into a tree. The fact that both Pellinore and Sir Grummore address each other in the most formal medieval English is also humorous and allows White to mock the formal address that is traditionally found in Arthurian tales.

The early interactions between Kay and the Wart set the stage.
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Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 5–9

Six years pass. Kay becomes more temperamental, insisting on using weapons he cannot handle and challenging everybody to fights in which he is invariably defeated. Merlyn tells the sulking Wart that the best thing for sadness is to learn something new. Merlyn tells the Wart that this is the last time he will be able to turn him into an animal, since they will soon part ways. Merlyn then turns the Wart into a badger and sends him to visit a wise badger.

The early interactions between Kay and the Wart set the stage for our understanding of the boys as they grow, and White makes sure we can empathize with them. The first few chapters are peppered with incidents that help us get an understanding of these two complicated characters. Kay, after losing Cully, angrily states that Hob is only a servant whose feelings are irrelevant, and then he storms off. The Wart seems very much like the good-natured, marginalized stepchild so common in English literature, always decent and eager to please. It is interesting that the Wart is not particularly courageous or full of bravado; rather, he simply does what needs to be done to set things right no matter how frightened he is. Kay, on the other hand, is less pleasant. His actions reveal that he is a spoiled and angry child, so used to having his own superiority asserted for him that he cannot stand to have it challenged.


  1. Elizabeth M. says:

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  2. Christian R. says:

    Power of the body decides everything in the end, and only Might is Right.

  3. Shanelcik says:

    A summary of Book I: “The Sword and the Stone,” Chapters 1–4 in T. H. White's The Once and Future King. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene.

  4. Maurelle F. says:

    SparkNotes: The Once and Future King: Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 5–9, page 2

  5. Lenemibo says:

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