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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 20

Summary and Notes

Peels is intrigued by the possibility that the Wild Man is Lancelot, and he researched whether there is a history of lunacy in Lancelot’s family history. Pelles has a vested interest because his grandson, after all, is Galahad. He has no luck.

Pelles glances out the window and sees the Wild Man heading up to the castle, being chased and stoned by village boys. He is emaciated, naked, and truly pathetic, and the sight of him moves Pelles. He races downstairs, and asking the Wild Man his real name to no avail, he decides to make him into his court jester. Lancelot (the Wild Man) is now lodged in Pelles’s pigeon house and garbed as a clown for Pelles’s amusement.


In this chapter, Lancelot, despite his insanity, has not lost his intrinsic dignity and nobility. He is moving in this section because those who do not understand his worth, his real purity and ability, taunt him. It is hard not to notice a similarity to Christ in his last days in this chapter, and this subtle comparison will be emphasized later in both this book and book four.

Lancelot has already been tied to Christ through his genealogy: Pelles notes that he is “eight degrees” removed from Jesus genetically. Furthermore, his quest for chastity, his struggles between piety and the flesh, the scars on his hands from his imprisonment, and the ridicule he faces in this struggle make his journey comparable to Christ’s on many levels.

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