“Chivalry” by Neil Gaiman Summary, Plot Synopsis

"Chivalry" by Neil Gaiman Summary Plot Synopsis
“Chivalry” Summary

“Chivalry” is a short story by Neil Gaiman that has also been adapted into a graphic novel. It’s about an elderly widow who makes a remarkable discovery during her weekly trip to a second-hand shop when she finds an item of remarkable historical significance. Here’s a summary of “Chivalry”.

“Chivalry” Summary

One day, Mrs. Whitaker finds the Holy Grail. Every Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Whitaker stops into a second-hand shop. The volunteer at the till today is Marie, a seventeen-year old reading a magazine.

Mrs. Whitaker picks out some novels and passes on a lampshade. Under an old fur coat, she finds the Holy Grail, with a sticker price of 30p. It would look nice on the mantelpiece, so she buys it. She picks up a piece of liver on the way home.

Mrs. Whitaker washes out the Grail and polishes it, then places it on the mantelpiece with a china basset hound and a picture of her late husband, Henry. It looks nice, just as she thought.

On Friday, Mrs. Greenberg comes for tea. She asks about the Grail and Mrs. Whitaker explains it’s the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. She agrees it’s nice; it’s like one her Myron won for swimming. They talk about some family and friends before Mrs. Greenberg leaves.

After lunch, a young man in silver armor comes to the door. He’s on a quest for the Holy Grail. After he presents a scroll from King Arthur identifying him as Galaad, a Knight of the Table Round, she lets him in.

On seeing the Grail, Galaad drops to one knee and seems very moved. He asks to take the Grail so his quest will be over and offers gold in exchange. Mrs. Whitaker isn’t interested in gold and ushers him out.

Some children are looking at his horse, which is tied to the gate post. He shows them how to feed it sugar lumps. Galaad leaves.

On Saturday, Mrs. Whitaker visits her nephew and family. On Sunday, she goes to church, not mentioning to the reverend that she has the Holy Grail.

On Monday, she works in the garden. Galaad returns with an offer for the Grail—a sword with a gold and silver hilt and a jewel that makes its wielder invulnerable. Mrs. Whitaker isn’t interested. She gets him and his horse some food for their journey and sends him away.

“Chivalry” Summary, Cont’d

She visits Mrs. Perkins in the hospital and watches some TV that evening. On Tuesday, she goes to the post office to pick up a parcel from her niece. While she’s out, she stops into the second-hand shop.

Marie is looking nicer. She directed Galaad to Mrs. Whitaker when he came looking for the Grail. Marie found him attractive. Mrs. Whitaker picks out another novel.

At home, Galaad is waiting for her. Mrs. Whitaker gets him to help her move things around upstairs while she dusts. While they work, Mrs. Whitaker talks about her history, including her late husband, Henry. Galaad talks about some of his notable relatives. When they finish at five o’clock, Galaad makes his offer. He has brought three things for Mrs. Whitaker in exchange for the Grail.

First, the Philosopher’s Stone, which gives her a sense of peace as she holds it. It transforms base metals into gold, among other impressive things. Second, the Egg of the Phoenix, which gives her an uplifting feeling. One day, it will hatch into the Phoenix bird itself. Third, one of the Apples of Hesperides, which heal illness, restore youth and give eternal life. A lick of the juice gives her a momentary rush of feeling young.

Mrs. Whitaker is silent for a while. She looks at her mantelpiece—at the Grail, the basset hound, and the picture of Henry. She accepts a two-for-one trade for the Philosopher’s Stone and Egg of the Phoenix. She gently rebukes him for offering the Apple of Hesperides to an old lady.

They make the exchange. The new items look nice on the mantelpiece. Mrs. Whitaker wraps up the Grail and gets Galaad a little food for the trip back. She kisses him on the cheek, and she cries quietly after he leaves.

Mrs. Whitaker stays in on Wednesday. On Thursday, she goes to the second-hand shop. Marie isn’t there. She left with a young man on a horse.

Mrs. Whitaker picks out another novel and a lamp with Chinese characters and an elegant, arching handle. It looks like an oil can. She knows what it is. She changes her mind at the last moment. After all, she has nowhere to put it.

I hope this summary of “Chivalry” was helpful.