Study Guide

Sir Sagramor in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

By Mark Twain

Sir Sagramor

Sir Sagramor challenges Hank to a duel after overhearing what he thinks is an insult. This—and his general pig-headedness—make him a very typical knight in Arthur's Camelot. He's a knight-errant—someone who goes on extended quests—which means he defers his duel with Hank until he spends years (no really—years) searching for the Holy Grail:

He named a day three or four years in the future; place of settlement, the lists where the offense had been given. I said I would be ready when he got back. You see, he was going for the Holy Grail. (9.7)

Not only does he hang on to a single perceived slight for all that time, but he's perfectly willing to kill Hank after the duel doesn't go his way. He also uses Merlin to enchant his armor, and engages in all kinds of other dirty tricks to boot, which is extra lame considering how much time he's had to hone his dueling skills for this fight.

In other words, Sir Sagramor's code of honor is pretty bogus—he's arrogant, he's hot headed, he clearly has trouble letting go of things, and his sense of chivalry extends only far enough to get him what he wants. Plus, he presses the advantage when he thinks that Hank is helpless, insisting that Hank engage in their final duel without a weapon:

"He shall fight with his own weapons; it was his privilege to choose them and bring them. If he has erred, on his head be it." (39.10)

Thankfully, he's not too bright either, and Hank uses both his idiocy and hot temper to give him the beat down he so dearly deserves—first by yanking him out of his saddle with a lasso, and then shooting him dead when he presses the issue.

We might see Sagramor as an embodiment of everything that's wrong with Arthurian times... and Arthurian literature in general. Hank defeats him as a way of symbolically shutting down knights errant in general, and stopping the waste and slaughter that comes with their particular pursuits. When Sir Sagramor goes down, the whole social class he represents goes with him. Talk about falling hard…

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