Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 2, Chapter 4

By T.H. White

Book 2, Chapter 4

  • The three, still on their way home, sit and watch the field workers getting ready for the upcoming harvest.
  • Merlyn continues talking about his youth, when there was a widespread idea that wars were wrong.
  • The only really good reason for war, Merlyn professes, is when you have to stop the other guy who started it. Basically: self-defense is okay.
  • Arthur and Kay don't seem to understand how you can tell who the aggressor is in a war-type situation. Merlyn gets exasperated, and tells them any reasoning person can tell this in ninety out of a hundred cases.
  • We find out that King Lot is actually a Gall (so of the same race as Arthur), and he doesn't really care about the Gall vs. Gael grudge match. He just likes to fight. Plus, his wife makes him do it.
  • Merlyn then spends some time explaining the link between Norman warfare and Victorian foxhunting. They're all blood sports.
  • And, it seems that because of the long history of warfare in the British Isles, Arthur needs to resign himself to more of this.
  • Sadly, the true victims will be the poor people who have no armor.

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