The Pillars of the Earth Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the fate of the White Ship and its passengers after it sets sail from England in 1120?

The White Ship sinks off Barfleur, all hands and passengers, including the king's son perish. This leaves King Henry without an heir. Only one passenger survives.

2. What is the favorite pastime of the young boys who gather early in the marketplace?

They enjoy violence, bloodshed, and hurting animals. Their favorite event is to watch a hanging.

3. Describe the conversation the young men have about witnessing other hangings.

They say that the condemned man is lucky if his neck breaks immediately, resulting in a fast, painless death. If his neck doesn't break, he could hang and suffer for a long time, choking and gasping.

4. Summarize the actions of the townspeople before the hanging takes place.

They gather in the marketplace where the old women sell beer, eggs, milk, butter, and bread. The villagers glance up at the castle where the prisoner is being held.

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