Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 3, Chapter 29

By T.H. White

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Book 3, Chapter 29

  • Sir Lionel returns next, and he's angry with Sir Bors, his brother. Both of these guys are Lancelot's cousins.
  • Sir Bors, it turns out, is too pure. Did you know, for example, that he's only had sex once? Lionel seems indignant at this, and proceeds to tell Arthur and Guenever about the four adventures Sir Bors had during the Grail Quest.
  • Lionel reports that Sir Bors went right to confession on the first day of the Grail Quest. He also did penance, ate only bread and water, wore an itchy garment, and swore off women.
  • We learn that Lionel's angry at Bors because when he had a choice between rescuing a virgin maiden from a knight who wanted to deflower her and rescuing Lionel from being whacked by thorns, Bors chose the virgin.
  • Lionel tries to kill him for this.
  • And here's where the whole Sir Bors-is-a-misogynist thing gets explained. On the quest, he refuses to sleep with one beautiful lady, and as a consequence twelve maidens jump to their deaths. And Sir Bors is okay with this, because he's only responsible for his own actions.
  • This is perfectly okay, though, because it turns out that these ladies were actually devils.
  • Later, when Lionel tries to kill Bors, God appears at Bors' prayer, and stops the fight between the two brothers.
  • The two brothers make up, and then Bors sails off in a magical ship. Lionel is sure his bro is going to find the Grail.
  • But what Lionel wants to know, is: Why Bors? Why did God only save him and not the hermits that Lionel killed or Sir Colgrevance that Lionel also killed? Why didn't they rate?
  • Guenever speculates that maybe these killings helped their souls, and that God allowed it to happen because it was best for them.
  • Seems kind of harsh, though.

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