Monday, February 13, 2017
Let's Read: The Once and Future King (Ch.20)
Hay-making season again! Will there be any homoerotic moments between two young and naked lads? Nope, not this time! Why?
“Six other years passed by” (177).
Puberty—oh no!!!!! Gotta get those “no homo”s out and about.
On a more serious note, I do not think I have ever seen a major fantasy novel pass by six whole years, in a single sentence. I still don’t know Wart’s exact age, but I am thinking mid-to-late teens. Maybe… seventeen? Perhaps as young as fifteen.
So White spends some time describing all of the changes which happened in this time. So I will lists them as well!
(1) Cully lost his vertical stripes and has become grayer. No surprise there, though I am surprised that that bird is still alive; (2) Hob’s hair turned white; (3) the sergeant-at-arms developed a pot-belly; (4) Kay and Wart’s legs grew longer and they had many adventures; (5) Kay became sarcastic and overly hostile to everyone, picking fights which he really should not have picked (typically teen angst, then), while Wart “continued to be stupid, fond of Kay, and interested in birds” (178). Merlyn, meanwhile, looked younger every year, since he is moving backwards in time; (6) Oh, and Archy gets married, raising up an owl family, while every year William Twyti returns to do his annual hunt.
But not all is well.
“Proportionally as the day came nearer, the two boys drifted apart—for Kay did not care to associate with the Wart any longer on the same terms, because he would need to be more dignified as a knight, and could not afford to have his squire on intimate terms with him. The Wart, who would have to be the squire, followed him around disconsolately as long as he was allowed to do so, and then went off full miserably to amuse himself alone, as best he might” (179).
I want to make a teen angst joke but that would not be right since what Wart’s feeling is warranted and real, not some overly hyped up fantasy associated with adolescent emotional trouble.
Everyone reading this passage will know what Wart is feeling since it happens to just about everyone; the friends you had in elementary school change in middle school until you get to high school and the change happens all over again, until you graduate and lose all but the closest of compatriots. It is a sad affair. You realize that the real world is meant to keep people apart. Childhood is a fleeting place of peace, where relations are simplified, but adolescence and early adulthood, that is where reality comes crashing in. I feel quite strongly for Wart as we get sections like the following
“And the Wart looked around the busy kitchen, which was coloured by the flames till it looked like hell, with sorrowful affection.”
And so here is Wart’s emotional state over losing his best friend—he feels highly conflicted, as though he has been transported to a hell on earth. Dramatic? Yes, so it’s a bit angsty, but it also displays his loneliness and lack of companionship and how he feels about that.
So Wart is in this kitchen musing on his serving duties, when Merlyn pops up and talks to him. We then have about a full page of Merlyn describing the various rituals which Kay will need to complete before his final certification as a knight. Merlyn calls these rituals “a lot of fuss” (180). You go Merlyn! End Knightley privilege!
“’I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it’” (181).
It’s Wart who remarks on this and while it is clearly a piece of youthful idealism, it is also a suitable Jesus-metaphor. Praise him! (imagine me saying that in a Southern Preacher type of voice.)
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