Study Guide

Widow Daventry in Crispin: Cross of Lead

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Widow Daventry

The Widow Daventry is the owner of the Green Man tavern. In her confidence and ability to give and take with any man who walks through her doors, she reminds us of Chaucer's Wife of Bath. A long-time friend of Bear's, she becomes a friend to Crispin, too:

Withal, she cast off a brimming, bustling force.

When we came forward, she squinted to see who was there. As Bear loomed large before her, a grand grin spread upon her face, revealing not just joy, but a complete lack of teeth.

"God's wounds," she cried with lisping, spittle-spraying laughter, "it's the Bear set loose among us again." (35.2-4)

While Bear is the voice of idealism in the novel, always looking for and expecting a brighter future and freedom from tyranny, Widow Daventry keeps it real. She knows that change doesn't come fast and that often it must be paid for in blood. She warns Bear and Crispin that they're going to get themselves in trouble for not keeping their heads down and keeping to themselves—and it's not like she isn't right. However, even as she's warning them, she's hiding, feeding, and assisting them as much as she can:

We worked in silence. She seemed tense. But then, as if she'd been thinking the matter over for some time, she said, "Crispin, I'm sorry for your troubles, but if ever a boy could find a good master, you've found him in Bear. As God is merciful, keep him close to his true calling—his juggling and his music. Don't let him mingle too much with those who would cause trouble. Because"—she looked at me as if I knew something I didn't—"if you don't help him, things could go much the worse for you both." (43.23)

Widow Daventry becomes a symbol of the danger Bear's and Crispin's actions put others in when her tavern is trashed by soldiers looking for them. Her cheery exterior cracks, and we see the pain she's in due to the loss of two husbands and seven children. After the attack, she tells Crispin the true story of his parentage and reminds him how lucky he is to have Bear now.

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