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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Sign of the Broken Sword -comments

The story starts with the description of landscape and the description of St. Clare’s monument, which is a sort of exposition, where the main hero of the story and the place where the story will begin (or, more accurately, one of the stories) are presented.

            It is necessary to say that author turns to retrospective, thus creating a framed structure of the story - the priest and his companion are narrator and listener and from Father Brown’s lips we hear the true story of St. Clair’s crime.

            So, there are two settings also: the past and the present. In both stories the exposition is scattered:the narrator often returns to preceding events, revealing the reasons why St. Clare did such a horrible thing, which is, though, typical for detective stories.

EGGpen notes here 

Narrator explains some details about·      St. Clare,
·      Olivier,
·      Lieutenant-Colonel Keith, - autobiography
·      Olivier's own dispatches,
·      The major  Murray—an Ulsterman-  a Puritan.
·      Colonel Clancy, - an Irishman;
·      Espado The Vulture ... Catholic,  a sort of soldier on no side

SUMMARY . REAL action.
St. Clare leads his men on a suicidal assault to produce that ...................................

But his surviving soldiers ................. the crime nevertheless, and they ............. St. Clare with ...................................................

To read the abridged story:

    PART 2:

of G. K. Chesterton’s story, “The Sign of the Broken Sword.” In that tale, the detective-priest Father Brown has spent many years unraveling a terrible mystery.

As Father Brown tells it,
·      General Sir Arthur St. Clare had served as one of 3the best officers of the British Empire; in death, he had become revered as both a war hero and a Christian martyr. General St. Clare had been a prudent, conscientious and quietly brilliant commander. In his last campaign, St. Clare fought against the Brazilian patriot Olivier, a man esteemed for his extraordinary chivalry.
·      On the fateful day, the otherwise careful St. Clare led his troops in an unaccountably foolish assault against vastly superior forces.
·      Most of his men died, and the rest were captured, including St. Clare himself. True to honor’s form, Olivier released his prisoners.
·      All the more unaccountable, then, was the fact that St. Clare was hanged on the field of battle: “‘He was found swinging there after the Brazilians had retired, with his broken sword hung round his neck.’”

So there were two mysteries:
1.    why had “‘one of the wisest men in the world acted like and idiot,’” and
2.    why had a supremely chivalrous man “‘acted like a fiend’”?

Father Brown asks his lone companion Flambeau a series of seemingly irrelevant questions:
‘Where does a wise man hide a pebble?’  ---> ‘On the beach,’ answers Flambeau.
‘Where does a wise man hide a leaf?’ ---> ‘In the forest.’‘
But what does he do if there is no beach? Or no forest?'
       --->  'Well, he must make a beach. Or grow a forest'. ‘A fearful sin.’
The double mystery is solved if one knows that St. Clare has murdered a fellow officer and needs to cover up the crime.
“‘And if a man had to hide a dead body, he would make a field of dead bodies to hide it in.’”

St. Clare leads his men on a suicidal assault to produce that field of corpses. But his surviving soldiers discover the crime nevertheless, and they hang St. Clare with the murder weapon hung around his neck.

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