David Bruce: Lloyd Alexander’s THE BLACK CAULDRON: A Discussion Guide — Chapters 7-8

Chapter 7: Kaw

  • What aid does Gwystyl give to the band of heroes?

Gwystyl really does aid the band of heroes. He has made a powder for use in emergencies. When applied to feet or hooves, it will hide one’s tracks. By using this powder, the band of heroes is able to escape the Huntsmen. (Of course, after a while, the powder wears off one’s feet or hooves.)

By the way, Doli turns himself invisible and discovers that five Huntsmen are camped nearby, so the band of heroes does need the powder to get away from the Huntsmen.

Part of Gwystyl’s job is to be ready for emergencies. Here he does his job well.

  • Write a brief character analysis of Kaw. Which information does Kaw give the band of heroes?

Kaw is intelligent, as we learn because he can understand human speech.

Kaw is helpful and can communicate with humans. We learn this because he tells the bands of heroes the names of the beings who have the Black Cauldron: Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch.

As Eilonwy says about Kaw, “He acts as if he wants to tell us something” (77).

  • How much does Gwystyl really know about the Black Cauldron?

Gwystyl knows more than at first he lets on to know. In the previous chapter, he revealed that he knows that the Black Cauldron is missing.

Now we learn that he knows who has the Black Cauldron and in which general area it is located.

The beings known as Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch have the Black Cauldron, and they live in the Marshes of Morva.

  • What do we learn about Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch?

Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch are strange beings:

“Who are they?” murmured Gwystyl. “You had better ask what are they?” (78)

Gwystyl also says that it is better not to meddle with Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch. He says that it is better simply to leave them alone.

  • What we learn about the Marshes of Morva?

Fflewddur Fflam has been near the Marshes of Morva. He says about them,

“Unpleasant stretch of country and quite terrifying.” (79)

“Dreadful, smelly, ugly-looking fens they were.” (79)

Definition of fens: A marshy area.

  • Is “smelly” the correct adjective to use when describing the marshes?

Actually, no. A better adjective to use is “stinky.” Human beings and animals are able to smell (and unfortunately, to stink); marshes stink. Human beings smell the stink of the marshes.

By the way, Samuel Johnson wrote the first really good dictionary of the English dictionary, so he knew the meanings of words. Apparently, he occasionally had bad personal hygiene habits, as a woman once told him, “You smell!”

Mr. Johnson replied, “I stink. You smell.”

  • After the band of heroes learn who has the Black Cauldron, what are their options? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?

They have two main options:

1) They can search for Prince Gwydion, who will decide the next course of action.

Advantage: With the addition of other soldiers, they will have a stronger force to fight, if necessary, the evil forces of Arawn. Also, of course, Prince Gwydion is an excellent leader.

Disadvantage: Finding Prince Gwydion will take time — time that the evil forces of Arawn will use in trying to find the Black Cauldron.

2) They can immediately begin to search for the Black Cauldron.

Advantage: If they don’t spend time in trying to find Prince Gwydion and instead begin to search immediately for the Black Cauldron, they have a better chance of finding the Black Cauldron before the evil forces of Arawn do. Adaon, of course, is a good leader.

Disadvantage: Without the addition of other soldiers, they will have a more difficult time in fighting, if necessary, the evil forces of Arawn.

  • After the band of heroes learns who has the Black Cauldron, what at first do they decide is their best option? Why?

At first, it seems that the band of heroes will search for Prince Gwydion for these reasons:

1) Prince Gwydion left orders for the band of heroes to seek him after the attempt to find the Black Cauldron and to take it from the evil forces of Arawn.

2) With the addition of other soldiers, the band of heroes will have a stronger force to fight, if necessary, the evil forces of Arawn.

  • Why does Adaon allow Taran to make the important decision of whether to go to find the Black Cauldron or to go and report what they have learned to Prince Gwydion?

This is something we learn about later.

Briefly, Adaon knows that something bad will happen to him if they go to the Marshes of Morva. He does not want his decision to be based on selfish reasons. Instead, he wishes it to be based on the greater good.

Good reasons exist both for seeking Prince Gwydion immediately and for seeking the Black Cauldron immediately. Rather than risking making a decision based on personal benefit to himself (we learn about this later), Adaon (who is the leader of the band of heroes and would ordinarily make the decision) allows Taran to make the decision.

This is a major mark of respect for Taran. After all, Ellidyr is a little older than Taran, and Fflewddur Fflam is a grown-up king.

  • What does the term “greater good” mean?

An ethical theory known as Utilitarianism states that an act is good is it results in the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.

Utilitarianism believes that happiness is good.

Utilitarianism is also opposed to selfishness. When we choose what we ought to do, we ought to consider how our action will affect the happiness of other people.

Adaon believes that the happiness of a great number of people outweighs his own happiness. If the band of heroes can find the Black Cauldron and keep it out of the hands of Arawn, that will bring happiness to a great number of people. After all, if Arawn gets the Black Cauldron, he will make warriors to fight in wars. Arawn is the type of person who would make slaves of the people he conquers.

Even if Adaon is hurt badly, he is willing to be hurt badly if he can accomplish good with his life. Heroes are people who risk much — or everything they have — to help the greater good.

The happiness of an entire society of people is a greater good than the happiness of one individual.

  • What is the definition of the word “altruism”?

This is a definition of the word “altruism”:

the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others


Source: wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Date Downloaded: 15 July 2010

Adaon is altruistic.

  • Why does Taran decide to try to find the Black Cauldron?

Taran makes this important decision for these possible reasons:

1) The evil forces of Arawn are trying to find the Black Cauldron, and it is important that the forces of good find it and take possession of it.

2) When Prince Gwydion gave orders for the band of heroes to rejoin him after the attempt to find the Black Cauldron and take it from the evil forces of Arawn, Prince Gwydion did not realize that the band of heroes would already know the — new — location of the Black Cauldron.

3) Ellidyr would like to win honor by finding the Black Cauldron and delivering it to Prince Gwydion. Ellidyr is likely to leave the band of heroes and attempt to find the Black Cauldron on his own. Taran would like the band of heroes to stick together.

4) Taran would also like to win honor by finding the Black Cauldron and delivering it to Prince Gwydion. This could be in part a selfish reason.

  • Did Taran make his decision for the right reasons?

Students’ opinions may vary.

  • Obviously, honor is a major theme of The Black Cauldron. Define the word “honor.”

These definitions of the word “honor” appear on the World Wide Web:

  • award: a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction; “an award for bravery”
  • bestow honor or rewards upon; “Today we honor our soldiers”; “The scout was rewarded for courageous action”
  • the state of being honored
  • respect: show respect towards; “honor your parents!”
  • the quality of being honorable and having a good name; “a man of honor”

Source: http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=honor

Date Downloaded: 30 May 2010

  • Where are the Huntsmen?

Five Huntsmen are nearby — “camped over the rise” (84), Doli says.

Gwystyl’s powder helps the band of heroes to avoid the Huntsmen and be on their way.

Chapter 8: A Stone in the Shoe

  • Adaon dreamed about the last night he spent at Caer Dallden (30, 88). What dream did he have about himself?

Taran is worried about whether he has made a bad decision in going after the Black Cauldron rather than seeking Gwydion — Eilonwy definitely thinks that it would be better to seek Gwydion instead of the Black Cauldron (89).

One thing that troubles Taran is Adaon’s dreams. He asks Adaon what he dreamed about himself. Adaon replies,

“I saw myself in a glade; and though winter lay all around, it was warm and sunlit. Birds called and flowers sprang up from bare stones.” (88)

This dream sounds pleasant, but Eilonwy says that she does not know how to interpret the dream:

“Your dream was beautiful,” said Eilonwy, “but I can’t guess its meaning.” (88)

By the way, earlier Adaon had told Taran that he had dreamed that Taran would feel grief (30).

  • Describe the relationship of Taran and Ellidyr in Chapter 8.

An important event occurs when Ellidyr’s horse, Islimach, goes lame — that is, begins to limp.

Taran, however, is able to remove the small stone from Islimach’s hoof that is causing the lameness.

We would think that Ellidyr would thank Taran for removing the small stone, but instead he grows angry:

Ellidyr’s face was livid. “You have tried to steal honor from me, pig-boy,” he said through clenched teeth. “Will you now rob me of my horse?” (91)

By saying that Taran has tried to steal honor from him, Ellidyr is referring to Taran’s decision to search for the Black Cauldron rather than seeking Gwydion.

Ellidyr has prided himself on his horse’s not allowing any other human being but Ellidyr to touch him (90). However, Taran is able to calm Islimach enough that he is able to examine Islimach’s hoof and remove the small stone.

Ellidyr would do better to thank Taran for removing the small stone. He ought to put Islimach’s welfare above his pride.

  • Why is working together with other people important?

It is important to work together because people are able to share knowledge. Coll showed Taran the place in a horse’s hoof where a small stone could be hidden and could make a horse limp. Because Coll had taught this to Taran, Taran was able to remove the small stone from Islimach’s hoof. If Ellidyr had been traveling alone, Taran would not have been present to remove the stone.

By the way, books are an important source of teaching. An author can spend a year or more writing a book, and a reader can benefit from all the work that the author has done simply by spending a few hours or days reading the book.

Books are repositories of knowledge. A person who acquires new knowledge but does not write a book (or essay) is allowing new knowledge to die when he or she dies.

It is also important to realize to realize that a book can be fiction and yet be something that we can learn from. Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldronteaches us about the nature of excessive pride and about the importance of teamwork. It also teaches us about the nature of heroism.

  • Which gifts does Adaon offer to Taran in the event of Adaon’s death?

Adaon says that he does not value having many possessions, and so he has few of them. However, he does value three possessions, which he offers to Taran in case “any ill befall me” (93).

These are the three possessions:

1) Lluagor, his horse.

2) His pack of healing herbs.

3) The iron clasp around his neck. He says that the clasp is “the brooch I wear, a precious gift from Arianllyn, my betrothed” (93).

  • Which decision does Ellidyr make in Chapter 8?

Ellidyr decides to seek the Black Cauldron on his own. That way, he can get all the glory of finding the Black Cauldron and delivering it into the hands of Gwydion for himself instead of sharing the glory with the rest of the band of heroes.

Ellidyr and Taran are supposed to take the first and second watches, but Ellidyr simply disappears without waking Taran to take the second watch. Ellidyr leaves the band of heroes so he can search on his own for the Black Cauldron.

  • Does Ellidyr’s decision put the band of heroes in danger?

By not waking Taran to take the second watch, Ellidyr leaves the band of heroes without an alert guard. If the Huntsmen were to find them, the Huntsmen could kill many or most of the band of heroes before they even wake up.

These are now the members of the band of heroes:

Adaon

Taran

Eilonwy

Fflewddur Fflam

Doli

Gurgi

Five Huntsmen are searching for the band of heroes. If the Huntsmen were to find the band of heroes asleep, the Huntsmen could draw their swords, and then at a signal each of the Huntsmen could kill one of the members of the band of heroes. The remaining hero would probably wake up and attempt to flee, but the five Huntsmen are likely to capture and kill the remaining hero.

  • How does a major character get wounded in Chapter 8?

The Huntsmen in fact find the band of heroes — after the heroes wake up and begin traveling on horseback.

Adaon decides to fight the Huntsmen — he thinks that Doli’s trick of turning himself invisible and drawing the Huntsmen away from the remaining members of the band of heroes may not work this time.

Taran is in danger of being hit by a thrown dagger of one of the Huntsmen, but Adaon intervenes and strikes down the Huntsman. Adaon’s sword hits the Huntsman, but the Huntsman’s dagger hits Adaon.

  • How does Chapter 8 end?

Chapter 8 ends with a cliffhanger. Adaon is wounded, and Taran calls for help:

“Fflewddur! Doli!” Taran shouted. “To us! Adaon is wounded.” (97)

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore: Retellings of Classic Literature, Anecdote Collections, Discussion Guides for Teachers of Literature, Collections of Good Deed Accounts, etc. Some eBooks are free.

***

THE TROJAN WAR

https://www.amazon.com/Trojan-War-Its-Aftermath-Poems-ebook/dp/B00OO0ZRZ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511061182&sr=8-1&keywords=the+trojan+war+and+its+aftermath

***

SHAKESPEARE: 38 PLAYS

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725LV2P7

***

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE’S COMPLETE PLAYS: RETELLINGS

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L61YJBN/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i54

This entry was posted in Discussion Guide and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s