Study Guide

The Wanting Seed Part 4, Chapter 5

By Anthony Burgess

Part 4, Chapter 5

  • Tristram continues on towards Lichfield, and when he reaches the town, he finds a huge carnival going on.
  • Tristram joins a crowd that has gathered to watch a parade. The parade is highly sexualized and silly, and everyone involved seems to be having a lot of fun.
  • Some members of the parade are carrying a large pole (a May Pole) that symbolizes a phallus, and as the parade moves into the nearby fields, the men bury the pole ceremoniously in a large hole dug into the ground.
  • Tristram joins in with the dancing and feasting around the site of the buried pole, and eventually wanders off into the furrowed fields with one of the local women.
  • At midnight, a group of local men compete for the honour of having sex with the queen of the parade, and a number of other ritual pairings are organized.
  • Eventually, everyone falls asleep peacefully in the fields after a long night of feasting and reveling.
  • At dawn, Tristram wakes, "kiss[es] his new friends goodbye," and continues on his journey north (4.5.7). Well, that was weird.