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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 5

Summary and Notes

Both Uncle Dap and Arthur noticed that Lancelot and Guenevere are falling in love with each other. Dap responds by lecturing Lancelot sternly, who asks him to not bring it up again. Dap respects Lancelotís wishes.

Arthur, on the other hand, decides that Lancelot should join him on the Roman campaign. The Roman campaign is simply an extension of the battle at Bedegraine, and is, the author writes, of no great consequence.

It is important to realize, though, that Arthur took Lancelot with him because the knight was falling in love with the Queen. Lancelot initially is irritated at having to leave Camelot and Guenever, but relishes the chance to prove himself. Furthermore, on the campaign, Lancelot and Arthur become very close and completely trust one another. Lancelot proves his heroism repeatedly during the few years they are fighting, as do a number of other members of the Round Table.

Chapter 6

Summary and Notes

These chapters are very short, and are intended to flesh Lancelot out rather than to add much to the plot. The first few years the knight spends at Camelot are spent chiefly on the campaign with Arthur, and thus this section is not plot-driven, but rather a character study.

The author notes that Lancelot is a man of honor, that he will always keep his Word. White capitalizes Word as if to emphasize the importance it has in Lancelotís life and in medieval chivalric culture in general. This is the reason that it is a momentous thing when Lancelot betrays Arthur with his wife - he aspires to be more than anything, saint-like: beyond the common man in terms of decency, honor, and virtue.


Arthur and Lancelot return to England and it is immediately clear upon their homecoming that the love between the Queen and Lancelot has not diminished. Lancelot, trying to protect his Word, asks for a leave of absence. Arthur does not understand why he would want to leave again so soon after returning. Lancelot explains that he wants to go on a quest, because that is what knights do, and Arthur reluctantly lets him go.

In addition to Lancelotís desire to remain honorable, the author in this section sees Arthurís refusal to see what he has known since Merlyn alerted him: his best friend and wife are going to betray him. His ability to recognize their infidelity is complicated: he is a good man, too good, and he has a unique inability, probably formed under Merlynís tutelage to see bad in others.

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