Sweet zombie Jesus—we are finally back on our way!

Protag-Man and Sandy (remember her?) finally get back on their way to the castle besieged by angry ogres, or something. Protag-Man is happy though Sandy misses the comfort of Morgan Le Fay’s great castle. Regardless, the open road is their home.

In any case, this chapter is short and I don’t wholly understand it: the sum of it is this: Sandy tells Protag-Man about a knightly story and then protag-man remarks how knight errantry is a silly business since it is difficult to make money in it. It seems to be based on speculation in that who you “knight” for is always suspect so rewards are hard to gauge.

“’It’s just a corner in pork, that’s all, and you can’t make anything else out of it. You’re rich—yes,– suddenly rich—for about a day, maybe a week; then somebody corners the market on you, and down goes your bucket shop;” (137).

This makes me think that Knight Errantly is being related to a stock market. That knights are investors and the lords are companies being invested in while the actual investing itself is the errantly. I think this is why protag-man says that one needs to be “lucky” in order to be an effective knight, because the practice is essentially no different than investing. Interesting commentary if true.

Before the chapter ends there is an odd part. Protag-Man comments on how people age and asks Sandy her age. Sandy doesn’t know how to reply. The text reads “It was the first time I ever struck a still place in her. The mill had shut down for repairs, or something”. Other than the mildly misogynistic language (LOTS more on this in the next chapter), this is an unfinished thread: why suddenly comment on age?

Chapter 20

In any case, the journey moves on.

While breaking, Protag-man and Sandy come across a knight bulletin-boarding. He is selling toothbrushes. Oh, also, apparently, stove-top cleaner that no one could buy yet since stoves hadn’t been invented yet. No matter.

To make a long, pretty pointless story short, this knight ventures and finds some friends that were recently released from Morgan’s dungeon. Protag-man remarks

“To wit, that this dreadful matter brought from these downtrodden people no outburst of rage against these oppressors. They had been heritors and subjects of cruelty and outrage so long that nothing could have startled them but a kindness” (141).

Upon thinking these thoughts, Protag-Man wishes that he had taken another road. He is planning, you see, like any great colonizer, a “peaceful revolution” to raise the dirty and ignorant people from their bootstraps. Intrinsically, though, he understands that “all revolutions that will succeed must begin in blood, whatever may answer afterward”. The juxtaposition of idealism against reality bums him out. Alas, perhaps we will see a peoples’ revolution yet!

“[Sandy] said we were approaching the ogre’s castle. I was surprised into an uncomfortable shock. The object of our quest had gradually dropped out of my mind;”
You and me both. Jeez. That whole side-quest with Morgan Le Fay was annoying as hell. It served literally nothing to the plot other than to present a sexist caricature of an Arthurian staple.

 

At any rate, Sandy and guy finally reach the castle. Turns out, though, that it is just a pigsty. Sandy believes it to be an enchantment, however; this enchantment is actually fun, in a way, because it amounts to an elaborate lie: everything which comes next must have been premeditated by Sandy. Essentially, it was a scheme to yoke the knights for some free livestock.

 
In short, Protag-man buys the pigs and ushers them to some home a few miles away. But it is also at this area which reeks most of misogyny. Even if it is a scheme by Sandy, it is written literally as this: the female captives have been transformed into pigs. Literally, then, women are pigs. Fucking Christ.

 
I guess if you want evidence of Twain’s implicit sexism, then this is a good place to begin (let’s be honest, this moment goes above and beyond mere characterization; the ladies could have been transformed into any animal, but Twain chose pigs. Seriously). It is disgusting. As much as it is entertaining to read of a Victorian impersonating a knight chasing pigs through the countryside in unwieldy armor while calling them names of loyalty—which has its own anti-aristocratic subtext—the gender commentary underneath makes it extremely hard to swallow.

 
Here’s hoping that the next chapter is better.

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