The Sleeping Sword
Published in: 2002
Age Range: Young Teens
Setting: Bryher in the Scilly Isles
- Bun Bendle sustains a head injury in a diving accident. He learns to live with his blindness, not least through the support and help of his friends and family.
- Liam & Dan are Bun's best friends.
- Anna is Dan's older sister, four years older than Bun, who supports him the most when he is blind.
A story within a story: Bun, now 12 years old, tells a story of his blindness two years before, and of how a sword he found in a hole under their field led him to King Arthur's resting place and helped him recover his sight.
General: Michael Morpurgo's direct first-person narrative has the usual effect of producing an intimacy and immediacy to the story while keeping the ideas and words within range of the readers of the same age as the main character. The mixture of the island life, Bun's blindness, his friends' support, and the mythical sword is judged nicely.
Blindness: Bun tells of his blindness and his memory loss without self-pity, making it clear that he is to blame for trying a show-off dive without checking the water below. Rather than becoming a stimulus for selfishness, the blindness is a way for him to come closer to his friends and especially to Anna.
Friends & Family: Bun's family are nothing but supportive of him despite the fact — which Bun realises — that it gives them money problems, having to provide extra facilities and teaching for him. When his parents, in all goodwill, arrange for him to attend a special school on the mainland, his friends organise a petition among the islanders and organise for him to be taught without leaving home. Anna, in particular, spends a lot of time with Bun, coming to his house every weekend and spending time with him.
Life & Death: Despite Bun's acceptance of his blindness, at one point he is going to give up by throwing himself off a cliff in the middle of the night until Anna draws him back.
When I came up over the crest of the hill overlooking Hell Bay, the sudden force of the wind took my breath away and chilled me to the bone. I could hear the raoring thunder of the sea. I could feel the whole island tremble under my feet as each wave pounded against the cliffs. I knew exactly where I was, exactly the place I would do it. It wasn't far now. I was almost there. I moved on unthinking, unfeeling, as if in a trance, as if led by some unseen hand towards the edge of the cliff, towards the end of my life.
A voice spoke from behind me, gentle, etheral. “Don't, Bun. Don't” Then a hand, a real hand, grasped me firmly by the arm. It was Anna. “Come away,” she said. “Come away. You're too close to the edge.”
I did not resist as she led me way, her arm around me. She helped me down on to a carpet of soft thrift and sat down beside me, letting me cry until I had no more tears left to cry. She did not talk and she did not touch me, but I could feel her willing me to explain why I had tried to do it. She wanted to understand, she needed to.
Tuesday 1st January 2002