70 pages 2 hours read

John Steinbeck

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1976

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Chapter 7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 7 Summary: “The Noble Tale of Sir Lancelot of the Lake”

After many years, King Arthur has established a peaceful kingdom, but this has created a new set of problems: “It is difficult, if not impossible, to keep the strength and temper of fighting men without fighting, for nothing rusts so quickly as an unused sword or an idle soldier” (207). Guinevere suggests establishing a principle of the King’s Justice, which would allow Camelot’s knights to travel the country and right small wrongs.

The king and queen also decide to send Lancelot, the greatest of all knights, on a quest accompanied by his lazy, irresponsible nephew, Sir Lyonel, in hopes that Lancelot can provide a steadying influence. Even though this expedition is supposed to be a secret, the entire castle knows the story: “And when the two errant knights finally crept out of the city in the night, a hundred eyes watched them go and the battlements concealed an audience” (217).

As they ride out in search of adventure, Lyonel badgers Lancelot relentlessly with questions about his past exploits. After hours of interrogation, Lancelot wearies of the conversation and falls asleep under an apple tree. Lyonel sits watching by his uncle until he notices a commotion nearby. Three knights on horseback are captured by a fourth, who binds them all and flings them over their horses’ backs.