Study Guide

Crispin: Cross of Lead Plot Analysis

By Avi

Plot Analysis

Exposition

"Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down…"

Yeah, you know we're going to reference Fresh Prince whenever possible. Check out Chapters 1 through 11 for the set-up of the whole plot. Asta's son spends the first thirteen years of his life living in the tiny village of Stromford, and then in just a few days, everything changes. His mother dies, leaving him a cross with some mysterious writing on it; the wicked steward, John Aycliffe, starts accusing him of crimes he didn't commit; the village priest turns up murdered; and before he knows it, Asta's son is running for his life. And that's when the story really starts.

Rising Action

The Fugitive

Now aware that his true name is Crispin, Asta's son spends Chapters 12 through 55 trying to evade the aforementioned wicked steward, John Aycliffe. Meanwhile, John Aycliffe is determined to catch him (funny how that works). Fortunately, Crispin meets up with a strong ally in Bear, a wandering minstrel with more than a passing interest in a little thing we like to call freedom. When Aycliffe captures Bear, using him as bait to draw Crispin in, the stage is set for the climax.

Climax

The Confrontation

Everything we know about plot analysis tells us that Crispin and John Aycliffe will eventually confront each other, and one or the other will emerge victorious. Lo and behold, in Chapter 56 these two come face to face in the chapel in Lord Furnival's palace. In true villain fashion, Aycliffe reveals answers to the final questions about Crispin's true identity. Crispin gets the better of him in a knife fight, forcing him to swear he will let Bear and Crispin go. In return, Crispin swears never to claim to be Lord Furnival's son, thus giving up any inheritance.

Crispin's outer (a.k.a. conflict with Aycliffe) and inner (a.k.a. conflict over his own identity) conflicts are both resolved in the same scene, which always a good hint that we're in climax territory.

Falling Action

Just Try Not to Fall on Anything Sharp…

Sharp weapons are all over the place in Medieval England. In Chapters 57 and 58, Aycliffe keeps his word, escorting Bear and Crispin to the city gates. Then he totally goes back on his word, like the villain he is, and Bear and Crispin have to fight their way out. Aycliffe ends up impaled on the swords of his own men, and Crispin leaves the cross with him, as he swore he would, thus proving he is still a good guy.

Resolution

Really, You Just Get to Go Free Now?

At the end of Chapter 58, Bear and Crispin head out of the city gates, free as two birds who have escaped a snare. Bear plays music and dances as they leave, laughing about how life is all around even as death is all around, too. Crispin decides he'll keep his name, and they head off to whatever new adventures are waiting for them. If characters have ever skipped happily into the sunset, it's these two.

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