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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

BOOK ONE: THE SWORD IN THE STONE

Chapter 9

Summary and Notes

Wart wakes up back in his own bed, and Kay, surly and jealous, demands to know where Wart was. Wart does not tell him, and the boys fight. Wart breaks Kayís nose, and Kay sobs because he is envious over Merlyn and Wartís closeness. Wart takes pity on Kay and goes to find Merlyn to ask him to include Kay in his lessons.

He finds Merlyn in a faraway turret, and Merlyn tells him a parable about a poor man, a rich man, and Elijah. The parable teaches that Godís will is unknowable and unchangeable, and it is best not to question the ways of the Lord. Merlyn tells Wart that what is good for him might be bad for Kay, and it is not within his power to change Kay into things.


Mid speech, Merlyn suddenly disappears and reappears in tropical gear; he has apparently flown to Bermuda and back while he was talking to Wart. He asks for his magicianís hat and receives a black topper from the late 19 th century and becomes enraged that his magic is not working correctly. He explains to Wart that he lives time backwards rather than forwards.

Merlyn relents, the reader assumes because of something he has seen in the future, and tells Wart that an adventure is waiting for them in the forest and that they better get on their way.

In this chapter, the readerís suspicions that Merlyn knows what will happen for Wart in the future are confirmed: Merlyn lives time backwards and therefore knows of the future. Kay and Wartís fight, which was foreshadowed by the immature joust between Pellinore and Grummore, also further details their relationship. A major theme in the novel, the Greek idea of unchangeable fate, is introduced here in Merlynís parable.

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