Study Guide

The Once and Future King Power

By T.H. White

Power

This is one of the biggies in The Once and Future King, and considering the time period in which White wrote it, we really shouldn't be surprised. Arthur thinks the outlaw barons like Sir Turquine were bad? He should try Hitler on for size.

After living through the monumentally cruel and destructive 20th century, it's no wonder White wanted to tackle the way power, force, tyranny, and justice overlap and conflict with each other. Might and Right are Arthur's central concerns throughout all four books, and some of the most important lessons he learns are couched in episodes that function like animal fables. He takes these lessons and tries to build on them with his Round Table and system of laws and justice.

Questions About Power

  1. What do you suppose life is like in the moat under the dictatorship of Black Peter the Pike, King of the Moat?
  2. In what ways was Arthur's Round Table project successful? Where did it fail?
  3. How does Lancelot become sort of an ultimate symbol of Might makes Right? What actions does he undertake that put him in this position?
  4. How does the Grail Quest raise significant questions about the Round Table's use of force and its legitimacy?

Chew on This

There cannot be justice without some kind of force. Someone will always break the law, and there needs to be a strong group to stand up for good (kind of like the Round Table).

The robotic, communist-like society of the ants is preferable to a completely violent society run by the unlawful barons described in Chapter 7 of The Ill-Made Knight.

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