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Lancelot Chapter Summary & Analysis - Chapters 1-2 Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lancelot.
This section contains 894 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)

Chapters 1-2 Summary

Lancelot Andrewes Lamar is the son of a family with deep Southern roots. Lancelot is in a mental institute after the death of his second wife, unclear if he is being treated as a patient or a criminal. Lancelot has denied knowledge of the events that have led to his confinement until he sees a friend in the hallway.

In chapter 1, Lancelot welcomes an old childhood friend into his room at the mental institute and recalls some of his fond memories of their childhood together. Lancelot claims to have begun remembering why he is in the hospital upon seeing his friend in the hallway the day before.

In chapter 2, Lancelot welcomes his friend, whom he calls Harry or Percival, and tells him that he has seen him walking through the cemetery that sits outside Lancelot's window. Lancelot asks his friend what he knows about love and being in love, suggesting Harry might be in love with a young woman who is often in the cemetery. This leads Lancelot to think about his first wife, Lucy Cobb, who died tragically after a few years of marriage. Lancelot also recalls his second wife, for whose death he finds himself in the hospital. Lancelot claims he did not recall the circumstances of his second wife's death until recently. Lancelot recalls his own heroic past, his athletic and academic achievements, and how his young life in no way prepared him for what his life has become. Lancelot asks Harry if he remembers the pigeonnier at Belle Isle where they often spent their afternoons reading together. Lancelot tells Harry that Margot, his second wife, turned the pigeonnier into a study. On the day Lancelot learned of Margot's infidelity, he was reading a book in the pigeonnier. Lancelot compares his discovery with an astronomer's discovery of an asteroid on a path to destroy the earth.

Lancelot put down his book and found an application to camp for his daughter that Margot has left on his desk for his signature. On the application was Siobhan, his youngest daughter's, blood type. Lancelot knew little about blood type but knew his blood type was dissimilar to that of Siobhan. Lancelot called a friend and learned that no matter what blood type the mother was, Siobhan could not be his daughter. Lancelot then checked his records and realized that Margot was in Texas the summer Siobhan was conceived, attending an acting seminar that was being given by an actor who was currently a guest at Belle Isle. Margot was in the middle of filming a movie with movie friends of hers at Belle Isle. Lancelot realized that Margot must have been having an affair with Merlin, the actor, and that it was possible it was continuing at that moment in his very own home. Lancelot then changes the subject, telling Harry about the girl in the room next to his. Lancelot attempted to talk to the girl yesterday through a complicated knocking system but did not receive a reply. Then Lancelot tells Harry his theory on how love is the cause of all the societal downfalls in history, leading him to design a new world that will revolve around the New Woman.

Chapters 1-2 Analysis

The first two chapters of the novel introduce the main characters. First is Lancelot, the narrator. Lancelot is telling his story to a friend, thus the point of view of the novel is first person and the language is something of a conversational tone. Lancelot is a man who has grown up in a Southern family with deep roots, causing him to be the kind of man who believes in chivalry and honor, like the Knight of the Round Table with the same name. Lancelot is a gentle man who believes in love and believes he was lucky enough to fall in love twice. However, something has changed to cause Lancelot to question his belief in love. While looking over an application for his daughter to go to summer camp, Lancelot discovered that his daughter might not be his because of her stated blood type. Lancelot is devastated by this news, a fact that is underscored by the fact that Lancelot is in a mental institution when the novel begins.

Lancelot begins telling his story, one he has kept closely hidden for the months or weeks he has been in the hospital, to a priest-psychiatrist whom he believes is a childhood friend named Harry. Harry never really speaks in the novel that the reader is aware of until the final pages, so the only things the reader knows about Harry are the things Lancelot tells the reader. The reader is not even sure if Harry really exists, an example of the unreliable narrator that Lancelot is slowly proving to be. Margot is also introduced in these chapters in a peripheral role. Margot is Lancelot's second wife and the woman who is apparently cheating on him, leading to some kind of disaster at their home, Belle Isle. Margot is an actress of some sort and she is in the middle of filming a movie when Lancelot learns about their daughter's parentage, ironically bringing into their home the man Lancelot suspects of being his daughter's biological father. This also brings into play all the characters necessary for the revenge plot that appears to be unfolding.

This section contains 894 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Copyrights
Lancelot from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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