A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Questions about "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court&
1. In the legend, Camelot is a wonderful, peaceful place where the inhabitants are prosperous and happy. In what ways is the Camelot the Yankee sees different from the legendary Camelot?
?2. A muckraking novel is one in which the author uses the story to “educate” his readers on social issues and conditions that the author believes need to be changed. Some critics believe that this novel is a muckraking novel; others do not. Even if this novel cannot be classified as a muckraking novel, twain does comment on social issues and conditions through his satire.
What social issues and conditions is Twain commenting on in this chapter?
II. KING ARTHUR’S COURT
1. Briefly describe Clarence’s physical appearance and his character.?
2. The Yankee learns from Clarence that the date is June 19, 528. In what way does this information help the Yankee??
3. Often in this story, the Yankee makes generalizations about life. For example, in the following excerpt he makes a generalization about how he approaches solving problems. “One thing at a time, is my motto–and just play that thing for all it is worth, even if it’s only two pair and a jack.” (Pg. 11) How does he apply the above generalization to his current situation in Camelot?
?4. What advice does Clarence give to the Yankee when he is presented to the court as Sir Kay’s prisoner??
5. In the following passage, the Yankee describes his opinions about his fellow prisoners.?State a theme for this novel based on this description:?They were suffering sharp physical pain, of course; and weariness, and hunger and thirst, no doubt; and none had given them the comfort of a wash at least, or even the poor charity of a lotion for their wounds; yet you never heard them utter?a moan or a groan, or saw them show any sign of restlessness, or any disposition to complain. The truth was forced upon me: “The rascals–they have served other people so in their day; it being their own turn, now, they were not expecting any better treatment than this; so their philosophical bearing is not an outcome of mental training, intellectual fortitude, reasoning; it is mere animal training; they are white Indians.” (Pg. 13)?
6. A second theme that is introduced in these opening chapters is that, inhumanity, injustice, and barbarity remain part of human existence, despite man’s attempt to civilize behavior with a code of laws. Find a passage in this chapter to support this idea.
III. KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND
1. Find a passage in this chapter supporting the concept that a knight’s account of his battle is often exaggerated.?
2. In the original stories about King Arthur, Merlin is portrayed as a great magician. How does Twain present him in this chapter?
?3. There are many versions of the story about King Arthur and the sword in the stone. In what ways is Merlin’s version of this story different from the versions of the story you may have read or seen in the movies?
?4. Satire is a way of writing that illustrates the flaws in a person, institution, or society with the purpose of ridicule. Some techniques of satire include:?
• using understatement and/or overstatement to poke fun at a person or institution?
• using sarcasm to say one thing but mean another?
• distorting the facts in order to highlight the flaws in a person or institution.?
Based on this explanation and what you have read in this novel so far, what do you think is Twain’s purpose in writing this story?
IV. SIR DINADAN THE HUMORIST
1. What does the Yankee think of Sir Dinadan’s humor?
?2. For what reasons is the Yankee shocked by Sir Kay’s version of his capture??
3. An allusion is a reference to a person, place, poem, book, or movie outside of the story that the author expects the reader will recognize. Find an example of an allusion in this chapter.?
4. The divine right of kings is a phrase used to describe the belief in many monarchies that the king is endowed by God with special abilities to lead the country and that this “divine right” is passed to his children. In this story, Twain is satirizing the Arthurian legends as a vehicle to also satirize the divine right of kings practiced in European countries of his time. Find an incident or a passage in this story illustrating that Twain does not believe people of noble birth are morally or in any other way naturally superior.
V. AN INSPIRATION
1. Why has no man ever escaped from the dungeons??
2. How does the Yankee plan to use the people’s belief in superstition to his own advantage??
3. Suspension of disbelief is the willingness of the audience/reader to accept the behavior and motivations of the characters for the duration of the play or story. For example, in this story the reader must accept that the people of Camelot accept a person’s word without asking for proof of his/her claims. Clarence accepts, without proof, that the Yankee is a magician.?Find another incident in this chapter where the reader must suspend disbelief so that the story can continue.?
4. One of the themes of this story is the struggle that takes place between the powers of superstition in the lives of the people living in the sixth-century and the powers of rational thought as introduced by Hank. Find a passage in this chapter illustrating this theme.
VI. THE ECLIPSE
1. Why does Clarence arrange for Hank’s immediate execution??
2. What demands does the Yankee make in exchange for “stopping” the eclipse?
VII. Merlin’s Tower
1. Why does the Yankee believe that he must perform another miracle??
2. At the end of this chapter the Yankee writes, “Merlin’s stock was flat.” (Pg. 36) List the steps the Yankee takes to discredit Merlin.
VIII. THE BOSS
1. In this chapter Twain continues his muckraking. Find a passage from the story to support the following statement: Through the eyes of the Yankee, Twain criticizes the nobility and the Church because both entities keep most of the people of the nation living like slaves.
?2. The Yankee observes that he has a level of power in the nation that is equal to the power of the king. However, the king is respected and revered because of his inherited title. The Yankee does not receive this kind of respect from the people because he is not a nobleman. Find a metaphor in this chapter illustrating how the Yankee believes he is perceived by the populace.
3. What is the “awful power of the Roman Catholic Church” the Yankee discusses in this chapter??
4. For what reasons does the Yankee like his new name, THE BOSS? Many critics believe that one of the themes for this story is that democracy is the best form of government for ensuring justice for the common man. In what way does the name THE BOSS help to support this theme?
IX. THE TOURNAMENT
1. This chapter is full of satire. Find an excerpt in this chapter illustrating the way Twain uses his keen sense of humor to ridicule the knights and their quest for the Holy Grail.?
2. Why does Sir Sagramor challenge THE BOSS to a fight? When will this fight take place?
X. BEGINNINGS OF CIVILIZATION
1. For what reasons does THE BOSS set up a “variety of Protestant congregations?” (Pg. 47)?
2. THE BOSS writes, “I was turning on my light one candlepower at a time, and meant to continue to do so.” (Pg. 49) He is systematically trying to change the current civilization. He is doing this through social, political, and technological changes. List one political change, one social change, and one technological change he mentions in this chapter.?
3. Why is King Arthur encouraging THE BOSS to start out on his own quest?
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