Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 20

By T.H. White

Book 1, Chapter 20

  • Merlyn has now been with Wart for an entire year.
  • And then six more years. We get a sort of montage, with descriptions of King Pellinore being spied chasing after the Questing Beast, Cully getting older, and the sergeant-at-arms getting chunky.
  • And, of course, Wart and Kay are growing up fast.
  • Over the years, Merlyn changes Wart into a number of different animals to help his education along, and he and Kay are excelling at athletics. They are now a match for the sergeant-at-arms in their fencing lessons.
  • When they are well into their teens, the boys have full suits of armor and real weapons.
  • Kay starts to become kind of a jerk: he has a temper and likes to challenge people to fights (and he usually gets beaten—serves him right).
  • As the time for Kay's knighting approaches, the boys grow apart, because Kay thinks it's beneath him to be too close to his squire. What an elitist.
  • Wart is sad that he is now being ignored by Kay, and sits in the kitchen, moping a bit. He decides it won't be so bad being a servant. He can deal.
  • Merlyn spends some time describing to Wart the ceremony involved in becoming a knight and what role Wart will play in Kay's upcoming knighting.
  • Rashly, Wart claims that he would like to be knighted and encounter the world's evil himself.
  • Merlyn has a strong reaction to this and munches on his beard to avoid speaking. Something's definitely up.

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