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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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Chapter 38

Summary and Notes

The whole apple matter is cleared up the next day with the arrival of Nimue. Merlyn had made Nimue promise that while she was holding him captive, that she must watch out over Arthur and Guenever. She arrives a day late to tell the truth about who really poisoned the apple and how Guenever was innocent, and the Queen is exonerated.

Arthur decides to hold a tournament to celebrate the Queen’s acquittal at, of all places, Castle Corbin, King Pelles and Elaine’s home.

This infuriates Guenever. She is already angry because even though Lancelot rode in majestically to save her, he is still stuck on God and the Holy Grail, and she feels as though he is being unfaithful to her. She is becoming angrier and angrier because of this threat of cuckoldry, and she takes it out on him by demanding that he not go to Castle Corbin. Any idea that he would cheat on the Queen with Elaine is of course ridiculous, but Guenever is displacing her jealousy of God onto Elaine.


In this chapter we see Guenever’s difficult nature and Lancelot’s infuriating serenity. She is trying to pick a fight with him and he does not take the bait, not because she’s being passive aggressive, but because he is so preoccupied with the divine that he doesn’t notice. She is becoming an unsympathetic shrew in this section, and it bears remembering the author’s description of her in a previous chapter as a “real” person.

Guenever changes her mind and tells Lancelot that he should go to the tournament that she doesn’t want to see his face anymore. He complies.

Elaine, when she sees him, remembers his promise many years before that he would come back, and she understands his return as permanent rather than just a few days’ visit for a tournament. She tells him that he will be staying for good now, as if it were fact.

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