Study Guide

The Once and Future King Education

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Education doesn't really play that big of a role in T.H. White's source material. In fact, Malory really doesn't mention it at all: Arthur goes from being Sir Ector's foster son to the illustrious King Arthur overnight, and there is little attention paid to how he gets from Point A to Point B. But White was interested in the nitty-gritty details. So education becomes the driving force for Wart as he develops into King Arthur, and it's a thread that ties together the four novels.

Arthur continues to build upon his lessons even into old age, when he finally passes the torch (or candle) along to little Tommy Malory. Learning, White implies, is what will allow humans to evolve to the next stage of pacifism.

Questions About Education

  1. Do we see any differences between the education of girls and boys in the books? Do we even get a glimpse of a girl being educated?
  2. Wart, of course, gets an upper-class education. He knows how to read, and people like the Dog Boy regard that as almost God-like. What do you think a commoner's education looks like in Wart's world?

Chew on This

One of the only things separating Arthur from the bloody barons is that he was educated in a particular way and they were not.

King Pellinore is almost as important to Wart's education as Merlyn is.

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