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

CHAPTER 44 "POSTSCRIPT BY CLARENCE"

Summary

Without heeding the advice of Clarence, The Boss decides to go in search of wounded soldiers. After shutting off the electric fuse, both of them leave the security of the cave. When Morgan tries to help the wounded Sir Meliagruance, the knight stabs him. Injured, The Boss is taken inside for treatment. Merlin comes in disguise as a woman and offers to cook for them. They employ him. The next evening, after everyone goes to sleep, Merlin casts a spell on The Boss that prolongs his sleep for thirteen centuries. Later, Clarence removes the body of his Boss to a remote corner of the cave "where none will ever find it to desecrate it". He places the manuscript over the lifeless sleeping body and the story ends.

Notes

Since the Boss is unable to record the last moments of his life, Clarence writes on his behalf. Otherwise, the story after Merlin's spell would be unknown. The Boss gets ensnared in his own trap. He goes out to rescue the wounded knights but himself gets wounded. The knight whom he had defeated at the tournament nurtures a spirit of revenge against the Boss. And when he is again vanquished in the battle, he is mortally wounded. He waits for an opportunity to kill his adversary. When Morgan bends over him in an effort to revive him, he stabs him. Clarence rightly sums up the situation in the following words: "We had conquered; in turn we were conquered."

Twain uses Merlin to make the leap from the sixth to the nineteenth century, since there is no easy or natural way to bring the story back to Twain the narrator and the strange "Yankee" he met in Warwick Castle. The body of the novel, which takes place in the past, is brought to a close and the frame is called back in to play, for a full sense of closure.


CHAPTER 45 "FINAL P.S. BY M.T."

Summary

Mark Twain the narrator closes the novel with a postscript. He has stayed up all night reading the manuscript handed to him by the stranger from Warwick Castle. It is dawn. He goes into the next room, where Hank Morgan is lying in bed, critically ill. In a state of delirium, the Yankee talks to Sandy and Hello-Central. After a few incoherent mutterings, he breathes his last.

Notes

This chapter is linked to the first chapter in that it concludes the frame established there. M.T., of the chapter heading, is naturally Mark Twain. As in The Prince and the Pauper, here also Twain establishes his presence. For the first time he directly reveals that he is the previously unnamed tourist who was given the manuscript by the stranger. He has finished reading it and goes to the next room to return it to its owner. However, Morgan is not in a state to react to the situation. In his deathbed, he calls for his wife and daughter, deliriously. When he mentions that it could be a dream, the readers begin to doubt the credibility of the story that has been told. The complete tale could simply be a figment of his imagination and the manuscript an outpouring of his illness- induced vision.

The irony of the story is most clear in the last pages, where Morgan cries out on his deathbed. For forty chapters, the reader has seen him trying to transform the backward sixth century into the modern nineteenth century. All his efforts have been to upgrade a world he considers base and crude. However, on his deathbed he wishes to go back to the medieval age, suggesting that perhaps that world was not as odious and backward as he seemed to think. He who had been rational becomes emotional thinking of Sandy and Hello-Central. And the last words he utters are "A Bugle? It is the King! The draw bridge there! Man the battlements - turn on the..." Morgan dies with a war cry. Twain tries to convey through these words that even though man understands the destructive power of war, he cherishes a desire to wage war and overpower nations.

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