David Bruce: Lloyd Alexander’s THE CASTLE OF LLYR: A Discussion Guide — Chapter 12: The Tomb

Chapter 12: The Tomb

  • Why did Lloyd Alexander title this chapter “The Tomb”?

A tomb is a chamber for the dead, often made out of rock. “The Tomb” is a good title because Taran and the companions are basically in a tomb. They are surrounded by rock, and they know of no way out. It looks very much as if they could die here.

  • What kindness did Taran promise to do for Glew at the end of Chapter 11?

Taran promised to ask Dallben to do what he can to help Glew. Because we know that Dallben is a great enchanter, we can guess that Dallben would very likely be successful.

 We read:

“You have my word,” Taran said, while Gurgi, Fflewddur, and Prince Rhun crawled into the opening. “If it is in Dallben’s power, he will help you.” (124)

  • How does Glew repay kindness with treachery?

Glew has said that he will show Taran and the companions the way out of the cavern, but instead he traps them and keeps them prisoner in one of the cavern’s rock chambers.

  • Glew asks, “But what else am I to do?” (125). What else could Glew do?

Glew could keep his word and let them out. That would be the honorable thing to do. And by helping Taran and the companions, Glew would most likely be helping himself. As Taran has promised, if Dallben is able to help Glew, he will. Now, with Taran and the companions trapped in the cavern, Dallben is unlikely ever to learn of the existence of Glew.

  • Why does Fflewddur Fflam — at first — think Glew has made them prisoner?

Fflewddur Fflam at first thinks that Glew intends to use them as guinea pigs, the way that he used Llyan to test his potions. Scientists follow ethical guidelines when it comes to experimenting on animals and on humans. We regard human life as valuable — more valuable than animal life — and so we test on animals instead of humans whenever possible. When it comes to testing on humans, we do such things as ask for volunteers. Taran and the other companions are not volunteers.

  • Why does Glew think he needs Taran and his companions — at least one of them — to get out of the cavern?

It turns out that Fflewddur Fflam is wrong about why Glew wants to keep them in the cavern. Glew will swallow each potion himself, he says. But he needs to use Taran or one of the humans as an ingredient in his potions. Just like the witches’ potion in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Glew needs somebody dead to make his potion.

  • Why is Fflewddur Fflam’s remark in Chapter 6 about the ingredients Glew used in his potions forecasting?

In Chapter 6, we read:

“He must have been painstaking,” Fflewddur went on. “I’ll say that much for him. He describes everything he did, and set down all his recipes, quite carefully and methodically. As for his ingredients,” the bard said, making a sour face, “I should rather not think about them.” (75)

We see here that one of the ingredients is something that comes from a dead person.

  • Which two meanings can “look at it from my side” have?

We read:

“Great Belin,” shouted Fflewddur, “let me get my hands on your scrawny neck and I’ll make you sound raw!” There was another silence. “Please,” said Glew faintly, “try to look at it from my side.”

“Gladly,” said Fflewddur. “Just push away that rock.” (128)

“Look at it from my side” has two meanings. Glew has in mind the figurative meaning: Look at it as if you were me. Fflewddur Fflam has in mind the literal meaning: He would like to look at it from Glew’s literal side of the boulder; that is, he would like to look at the boulder from outsidethe tomb.

  • Glew says that “this won’t hurt you a bit, you can be sure. It won’t take more than a moment of your time. Half a moment! And I shall only need one of you. Only one! You can’t say that’s asking too much, you can’t be so selfish …” (127-128). Who is being selfish here?

Glew is being selfish here. He thinks that Taran or one of the other companions ought to willingly give up his life so that Glew can brew a potion that will make him smaller.

Glew is overvaluing himself here. He regards his comfort as being worth more than the life of another person. Glew is in no real danger in the cavern. He simply dislikes it. He is willing for someone else to die so that he can get out of the cave and have a more comfortable life.

  • What does a true hero do?

A true hero will risk his or her life to save the life of another person. In doing this, a true hero will not unnecessarily risk his or her life. Prince Gwydion highly values his life, as all of us ought to do.

In this case, no one should give up his or her life for Glew. For one thing, Dallben may be able to get Glew out of the cave without loss of human life.

I believe that Taran would give up his life to save the life of Eilonwy, but of course Taran would like for Eilonwy and him to both be alive and together.

People are not required to give up their lives in an attempt to save the life of someone else. If you can swim and are trained in water rescue, you can call 911 and then swim out to a drowning person and try to rescue him or her. But if you can’t swim, it’s best to call 911 and hope that emergency workers quickly arrive to save the drowning person. If you can’t swim and you were to try to rescue the drowning person, both you and the drowning person could die.

  • What act of true heroism does Gurgi offer to do?

The companions try to get out of the tomb, but they cannot. Prince Rhun even breaks his sword by trying to force its point under the boulder blocking the exit (130). It looks as if they are trapped in the tomb.

Gurgi volunteers to be the person who is killed. Gurgi believes that if he dies, then Glew will let the others go free.

 We read:

Gurgi, who had crouched on the earth and wrapped his woolly arms around his knees, stared wretchedly at Taran. “Gurgi will go,” the creature whispered faintly, though he trembled so much he could hardly speak. “Yes, yes, he will give his poor tender head for broilings and boilings.” (131)

Note that Gurgi is not willing to give up his life to help Glew, but he is willing to give up his life to save the lives of Taran and the other companions.

Note that being heroic does not mean not being afraid. Gurgi does not want to die. He trembles out of fear. But he is willing to die to save his friends.

  • What act of true heroism does Prince Rhun offer to do?

Prince Rhun also offers to give up his life to Glew in order to save the lives of the others.

We read:

“There’s not one of you who wouldn’t give up his life for a companion,” Rhun added. “Fflewddur Fflam offered his life for ours in Llyan’s lair. Even now poor Gurgi is willing to offer his.” He raised his head. “A bard, a humble creature of the forest, an Assistant Pig-Keeper.” Rhun’s eyes met Taran’s and in a low voice he said, “Can a Prince do less? I doubt I should ever really be able to measure up to being a true Prince. Except in this.” (132-133)

This is heroic, but Prince Rhun is undervaluing himself just as Taran undervalues himself when he is sorry that he is not high-born the way a Prince is.

Prince Rhun is clumsy right now, but he is likely to grow out of his clumsiness fairly quickly.

We see that Prince Rhun should value himself highly. After all, he is willing to do something heroic: give his life to save the lives of other people.

I should point out that when I say that one should value oneself highly, that does not mean that one should think that one is better than other people. Glew values himself more than he values other people: He is willing for someone to die so that he can get out of the cavern.

  • Does Taran respect Prince Rhun?

Taran has enormous respect for Prince Rhun because of his heroism.

We read:

Taran looked at Rhun for a long moment. “You speak of measure,” he said. “I had measured you as no more than a feckless princeling. I was wrong. You are a truer Prince and better man than ever I believed. But this sacrifice is not yours to make. You know my oath to your father.” (133)

The online Free Dictionary define “feckless” in these ways:

  1. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.
  2. Careless and irresponsible.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/feckless

Date Accessed: 17 September 2011

  • Can Taran and his companions trust Glew to keep his word and kill only one of them? Is Glew likely to keep his promise to let the others go if one person gives up his life? He said, “I’ll lead you out of here, I promise” (129).

I doubt it. He wants to lead the others out of the cavern. That means that he will be his normal size again. I think that he would drink the potion and if it doesn’t work, he would keep on killing until finally a potion did work. And if the potion did work the first time, Glew would be small and weak again and would be unable to roll away the stone that keeps Taran and the companions locked in the rocky tomb. They would die there as Glew walks free.

When writing this chapter, Lloyd Alexander was probably influenced by Homer’s Odyssey, in one book of which Odysseus is locked in a cavern by the one-eyed Cyclops. Odysseus has to figure out how to get of the cavern. He can’t kill the Cyclops because he and his men are not strong enough to roll the boulder away from the entrance (and exit) of the cave. He ends up blinding the Cyclops and escapes when the Cyclops rolls away the boulder.

  • Taran and his companions bring up the possibility that Glew is mad (127), a word that means insane. What is the difference between being mad and being evil?

A mad or insane person is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. A mad or insane person may do something bad but be unaware that it is bad because of an inability to know what is right and what is wrong.

  • Bats are important in this chapter. In the beginning of Chapter 12, we read about the bats that are trapped with Taran and his companions. At the end of Chapter 12, Prince Rhun asks where the bats have gone. What is the importance of this question?

Taran and the companions are unable to dig themselves out of the tomb. They are trapped. However, the bats found a way out of the rocky chamber. If the bats found a way out of the rocky chamber, perhaps Taran and the companions can find out how the bats got out, and then perhaps they can also get out of the rocky chamber.

We read:

Prince Rhun […] added, “it’s astonishing, but I wonder what became of all the bats?” (133)

  • Why did Lloyd Alexander title this chapter “The Tomb”?

A tomb is a chamber for the dead, often made out of rock. “The Tomb” is a good title because Taran and the companions are basically in a tomb. They are surrounded by rock, and they know of no way out. It looks very much as if they could die here.

  • What kindness did Taran promise to do for Glew at the end of Chapter 11?

Taran promised to ask Dallben to do what he can to help Glew. Because we know that Dallben is a great enchanter, we can guess that Dallben would very likely be successful.

 We read:

“You have my word,” Taran said, while Gurgi, Fflewddur, and Prince Rhun crawled into the opening. “If it is in Dallben’s power, he will help you.” (124)

  • How does Glew repay kindness with treachery?

Glew has said that he will show Taran and the companions the way out of the cavern, but instead he traps them and keeps them prisoner in one of the cavern’s rock chambers.

  • Glew asks, “But what else am I to do?” (125). What else could Glew do?

Glew could keep his word and let them out. That would be the honorable thing to do. And by helping Taran and the companions, Glew would most likely be helping himself. As Taran has promised, if Dallben is able to help Glew, he will. Now, with Taran and the companions trapped in the cavern, Dallben is unlikely ever to learn of the existence of Glew.

  • Why does Fflewddur Fflam — at first — think Glew has made them prisoner?

Fflewddur Fflam at first thinks that Glew intends to use them as guinea pigs, the way that he used Llyan to test his potions. Scientists follow ethical guidelines when it comes to experimenting on animals and on humans. We regard human life as valuable — more valuable than animal life — and so we test on animals instead of humans whenever possible. When it comes to testing on humans, we do such things as ask for volunteers. Taran and the other companions are not volunteers.

  • Why does Glew think he needs Taran and his companions — at least one of them — to get out of the cavern?

It turns out that Fflewddur Fflam is wrong about why Glew wants to keep them in the cavern. Glew will swallow each potion himself, he says. But he needs to use Taran or one of the humans as an ingredient in his potions. Just like the witches’ potion in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Glew needs somebody dead to make his potion.

  • Why is Fflewddur Fflam’s remark in Chapter 6 about the ingredients Glew used in his potions forecasting?

In Chapter 6, we read:

“He must have been painstaking,” Fflewddur went on. “I’ll say that much for him. He describes everything he did, and set down all his recipes, quite carefully and methodically. As for his ingredients,” the bard said, making a sour face, “I should rather not think about them.” (75)

We see here that one of the ingredients is something that comes from a dead person.

  • Which two meanings can “look at it from my side” have?

We read:

“Great Belin,” shouted Fflewddur, “let me get my hands on your scrawny neck and I’ll make you sound raw!” There was another silence. “Please,” said Glew faintly, “try to look at it from my side.”

“Gladly,” said Fflewddur. “Just push away that rock.” (128)

“Look at it from my side” has two meanings. Glew has in mind the figurative meaning: Look at it as if you were me. Fflewddur Fflam has in mind the literal meaning: He would like to look at it from Glew’s literal side of the boulder; that is, he would like to look at the boulder from outsidethe tomb.

  • Glew says that “this won’t hurt you a bit, you can be sure. It won’t take more than a moment of your time. Half a moment! And I shall only need one of you. Only one! You can’t say that’s asking too much, you can’t be so selfish …” (127-128). Who is being selfish here?

Glew is being selfish here. He thinks that Taran or one of the other companions ought to willingly give up his life so that Glew can brew a potion that will make him smaller.

Glew is overvaluing himself here. He regards his comfort as being worth more than the life of another person. Glew is in no real danger in the cavern. He simply dislikes it. He is willing for someone else to die so that he can get out of the cave and have a more comfortable life.

  • What does a true hero do?

A true hero will risk his or her life to save the life of another person. In doing this, a true hero will not unnecessarily risk his or her life. Prince Gwydion highly values his life, as all of us ought to do.

In this case, no one should give up his or her life for Glew. For one thing, Dallben may be able to get Glew out of the cave without loss of human life.

I believe that Taran would give up his life to save the life of Eilonwy, but of course Taran would like for Eilonwy and him to both be alive and together.

People are not required to give up their lives in an attempt to save the life of someone else. If you can swim and are trained in water rescue, you can call 911 and then swim out to a drowning person and try to rescue him or her. But if you can’t swim, it’s best to call 911 and hope that emergency workers quickly arrive to save the drowning person. If you can’t swim and you were to try to rescue the drowning person, both you and the drowning person could die.

  • What act of true heroism does Gurgi offer to do?

The companions try to get out of the tomb, but they cannot. Prince Rhun even breaks his sword by trying to force its point under the boulder blocking the exit (130). It looks as if they are trapped in the tomb.

Gurgi volunteers to be the person who is killed. Gurgi believes that if he dies, then Glew will let the others go free.

 We read:

Gurgi, who had crouched on the earth and wrapped his woolly arms around his knees, stared wretchedly at Taran. “Gurgi will go,” the creature whispered faintly, though he trembled so much he could hardly speak. “Yes, yes, he will give his poor tender head for broilings and boilings.” (131)

Note that Gurgi is not willing to give up his life to help Glew, but he is willing to give up his life to save the lives of Taran and the other companions.

Note that being heroic does not mean not being afraid. Gurgi does not want to die. He trembles out of fear. But he is willing to die to save his friends.

  • What act of true heroism does Prince Rhun offer to do?

Prince Rhun also offers to give up his life to Glew in order to save the lives of the others.

We read:

“There’s not one of you who wouldn’t give up his life for a companion,” Rhun added. “Fflewddur Fflam offered his life for ours in Llyan’s lair. Even now poor Gurgi is willing to offer his.” He raised his head. “A bard, a humble creature of the forest, an Assistant Pig-Keeper.” Rhun’s eyes met Taran’s and in a low voice he said, “Can a Prince do less? I doubt I should ever really be able to measure up to being a true Prince. Except in this.” (132-133)

This is heroic, but Prince Rhun is undervaluing himself just as Taran undervalues himself when he is sorry that he is not high-born the way a Prince is.

Prince Rhun is clumsy right now, but he is likely to grow out of his clumsiness fairly quickly.

We see that Prince Rhun should value himself highly. After all, he is willing to do something heroic: give his life to save the lives of other people.

I should point out that when I say that one should value oneself highly, that does not mean that one should think that one is better than other people. Glew values himself more than he values other people: He is willing for someone to die so that he can get out of the cavern.

  • Does Taran respect Prince Rhun?

Taran has enormous respect for Prince Rhun because of his heroism.

We read:

Taran looked at Rhun for a long moment. “You speak of measure,” he said. “I had measured you as no more than a feckless princeling. I was wrong. You are a truer Prince and better man than ever I believed. But this sacrifice is not yours to make. You know my oath to your father.” (133)

The online Free Dictionary define “feckless” in these ways:

  1. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective.
  2. Careless and irresponsible.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/feckless

Date Accessed: 17 September 2011

  • Can Taran and his companions trust Glew to keep his word and kill only one of them? Is Glew likely to keep his promise to let the others go if one person gives up his life? He said, “I’ll lead you out of here, I promise” (129).

I doubt it. He wants to lead the others out of the cavern. That means that he will be his normal size again. I think that he would drink the potion and if it doesn’t work, he would keep on killing until finally a potion did work. And if the potion did work the first time, Glew would be small and weak again and would be unable to roll away the stone that keeps Taran and the companions locked in the rocky tomb. They would die there as Glew walks free.

When writing this chapter, Lloyd Alexander was probably influenced by Homer’s Odyssey, in one book of which Odysseus is locked in a cavern by the one-eyed Cyclops. Odysseus has to figure out how to get of the cavern. He can’t kill the Cyclops because he and his men are not strong enough to roll the boulder away from the entrance (and exit) of the cave. He ends up blinding the Cyclops and escapes when the Cyclops rolls away the boulder.

  • Taran and his companions bring up the possibility that Glew is mad (127), a word that means insane. What is the difference between being mad and being evil?

A mad or insane person is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. A mad or insane person may do something bad but be unaware that it is bad because of an inability to know what is right and what is wrong.

An evil person knows what is bad but deliberately does bad things.

Justice systems distinguish between insane people and evil people. An insane person may do something bad and be found innocent by reason of insanity. An evil person may do something bad and be found guilty. If the bad things are sufficiently bad, both people will be locked up for the rest of the lives. The mad or insane person will be locked up in a mental hospital, while the evil person is locked up in a prison.

  • Bats are important in this chapter. In the beginning of Chapter 12, we read about the bats that are trapped with Taran and his companions. At the end of Chapter 12, Prince Rhun asks where the bats have gone. What is the importance of this question?

Taran and the companions are unable to dig themselves out of the tomb. They are trapped. However, the bats found a way out of the rocky chamber. If the bats found a way out of the rocky chamber, perhaps Taran and the companions can find out how the bats got out, and then perhaps they can also get out of the rocky chamber.

We read:

Prince Rhun […] added, “it’s astonishing, but I wonder what became of all the bats?” (133)

***

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***

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