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Free Study Guide for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

CHAPTER 24 "A RIVAL MAGICIAN"

Summary

Shortly after the success of the water miracle, The Boss gets permission to build a bath at the Valley. Further establishing his reputation in the Valley, The Boss decides to explore the countryside. One day he enters a cave and finds one of his employees installing a telephone. He calls Clarence and discovers that the King and Queen are coming for a visit. When The Boss returns to the Valley, he finds another magician dominating the scene. The monks are impressed by this new magician's ability to predict the happenings in distant regions. However, when the Boss questions him about the plans of King Arthur in the near future, the new magician is taken unaware and says the King is sleeping.

The Boss, with his recently acquired telephone knowledge, informs the people that the King is on his way to visit them. However, few listen to The Boss. When the King arrives at the Valley after two days, the monks are embarrassed and disappointed in their new magician. They give the King a hearty welcome. The credibility of the Boss is reinforced and another magician's reputation is soiled.

Notes

The Boss gradually builds up his reputation in the valley by earning the trust of the monks. First, he repairs the leak in the well and calls it a work of miracle. The monks are grateful to him for his help. Then, Morgan rids the monks of their superstitious belief about the Bath and volunteers to rebuild it for them. He improves the hygienic conditions in the Valley and also brings relief to its residents. Later, he gathers information about the visit of King Arthur and his entourage and relates it as a prediction to the monks. And when the King really arrives at the Valley and Morgan helps them to receive His Majesty, the monks feel indebted to the Boss.


An interesting observation is that The Boss spends a lot of time debunking the myths and beliefs of the people about their own magicians, while at the same time allowing them to believe his science is unexplained "magic". His concern for educating the people and transforming civilization is hampered by his desire for elevation and importance.

CHAPTER 25 "A COMPETITIVE EXAMINATION"

Summary

King Arthur fulfills his royal duties by presiding as judge in criminal cases and by evaluating the fitness of his subjects to serve in the army. However, his judgment is biased in favor of clergy and nobility, regardless of circumstances or ability. The Boss is particularly distressed with the decisions about army service, since his trainees are very qualified, but not noble, and since the King is blind to their ability in favor of proper lineage. He makes a request the King to grant him permission to form two separate regiments. One of them would be an independent body comprised of nobility; the other will have able young men from different sections of society. To Morgan's relief, the King agrees. The Boss hopes this is the first step toward abolition of Royal Grants (eligibility based on bloodline).

Notes

This chapter again shows how society favors the Church and Royalty in the sixth century. In his capacity as the Chief Justice of the King's commission, Arthur deals with the case of a wealthy orphan girl exploited by an authoritarian Bishop who confiscates her property by force. Instead of supporting the wronged girl, the King rules in favor of the Bishop since he belongs to the High Church. Similarly, during the Competitive Examination, the King and the commission ignore candidates who are well qualified and suitable to the armed forces and chose men who belong to the nobility. The Boss, in his quest to improve civilization, hopes to change these unwritten codes.

CHAPTER 26 "THE FIRST NEWSPAPER"

Summary

Hank Morgan decides to travel the country incognito. King Arthur expresses a desire to accompany him. However, before venturing out of the Valley, His Majesty feels responsible to perform his duty of healing the sick with his touch. This business is monotonous and exhausting. Just when the Boss feels restless, he gets hold of a copy of the first newspaper to be published in Camelot. The Boss is delighted to read his handiwork and commends the efforts of Clarence in producing it. The newspaper creates curiosity in the minds of the illiterate monks and they call it another miracle of the Boss.

Notes

By now the King has established a good rapport with Morgan, which is why he decides to accompany him on his tour. King Arthur trusts the judgment of the Boss and thus desires to share in his many presumably wonderful experiences.

The chapter again addresses some of the prevailing customs of the sixth century. One of them is the supposed "healing touch" of the King, whereby sick people are healed by simply touching royalty. Mostly, the king is the one to feel better, thinking he has altered the unhappy course of his citizens' lives. It is a tiresome ordeal, ironically referred to as the "King's evil business". Mark Twain suggests the only truly evil business is the ordeal of having to sit through the ridiculous ritual.

Another faux miracle by The Boss is introduced. The newspaper that The Boss has started is finally produced, to the amazement of the people. Most of them are illiterate, but are amazed at this invention of writing news down and sending it across the country. It is hailed as another major miracle performed by The Boss.

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