Study Guide

Crispin: Cross of Lead Abandonment

By Avi

Abandonment

As the priest chanted the Latin prayers, whose meaning I barely understood, I knelt by his side and knew that God had taken away the one person I could claim as my own. But His will be done. (1.7)

The only family Crispin has ever known is his mother, and now she's gone. When we meet our main character, he's alone and oddly accepting of his fate since he also understands himself as powerless. He might be a little whiny about it, but can we blame him?

But that morning I had little doubt: I'd never be protected again. (4.31)

Considering that the steward just tried to kill him and the reeve and the bailiff just pulled down his house, Crispin may be making a bit of an understatement.

God, I was certain, had completely abandoned me. (11.27)

If you want to talk low points, this is definitely one. Crispin's lost his mother, his only friend (Father Quinel—don't even get us started on how sad it is that his only friend was a really old priest), his home, and he's been proclaimed a wolf's head. We don't blame him for feeling a little low right about now.

"A punctilious man, my father," Bear went on. "He paid my fees in full, gave me his hasty blessing, and walked away. I never saw him more." (21.10)

In Medieval times, people thought that kids owed their parents, not the other way around. And people had a lot of children, so Bear's dad actually does better by him than you might think by setting him up in a comfy career path. The fact that Bear doesn't want to be a monk is beside the point.

"And that was only water and a blade. Think what you might become if you were cleansed of thirteen years of dirt, neglect, and servitude." (25.28)

While Crispin's mom loved him, it's also clear that she had mixed feelings because he reminded her of bad things that happened to her. Bear's referring here to the fact that because others have never taken great care of Crispin, he doesn't think much of himself.

"Blessed Saint Giles," I whispered to the cross, "let me play the music well. Let me be a credit to my master. And I beg thee, let me have a soul, that I too may sing and dance like Bear. And, Saint Giles, do not let him betray me." (26.22)

Given Crispin's history, protection from betrayal seems like a good thing to ask for. Also, Bear still comes off as a little bit sketchy at this point, so we don't blame Crispin for being concerned.

"Bear, you… you won't betray me… will you?"

He gave me an angry look. "How can you even ask?"

"Forgive me," I said. "But… it has happened." (32.37-39)

Well, Bear, maybe Crispin's asking because of that trick you pulled with the bread the day you met, and because everyone who wishes him well tends to wind up dead.

"But when she quickened with child—you—he abandoned her, leaving orders that she be held in that place. Not killed, but never allowed to leave." (49.32)

Lord Furnival is a total jerk. We might ask why he cared where Asta went, but the answer is probably that he wanted to keep an eye on potential heirs—not out of fatherly affection, per say, but so he wouldn't have to worry about anyone making a claim to his property. His treatment of Asta is worse than total abandonment because he essentially imprisons her at Stromford.

Then the courier had arrived with his document, probably to announce the impending death of Lord Furnival. His protection—such as it was—was removed. (50.10)

While Lord Furnival lived, no one could actually kill Asta and Crispin because he might have been mad about it, but with Lord Furnival dead, anyone who sees Crispin's existence as a threat can take action.

"I can't abandon Bear," I said. (53.51)

Nobody knows better than Crispin what it feels like to be abandoned. Respect to his choice to risk his life to help his friend.

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