Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Door in the Wall (1950)

A fun little book, The Door in the Wall chronicles the tale of Robin, son of Sir John de Bureford, who wishes to become a knight with all of the chivalry, adventure and bravery that entails.  Unfortunately, Robin became sick with some unnamed illness which left him weak and his legs useless.  Fortunately, it was not The Plague, which was raging through England at the time the book is set.

His parents had left him in the care of servants when they went off to serve the king and queen.  He took ill soon after that, and then the servants caught the plague and were never seen again.  Luckily, a good monk, Brother Luke, heard he was alone and rescued him to hospice of St. Mark's.  He nursed Robin back to health and challenged him with difficult tasks meant to build his strength and patience.  Robin, in his lively way, met these challenges.

Robin anxiously awaited news from his father, who was away with the king at war. Robin finally learned of his well-being, and his father wrote to tell him to go to Sir Peter de Lindsay, where Robin was originally to be trained.  Accompanied by Brother Luke and John-go-in-the-Wynd (a minstrel), Robin journeyed to Sir Peter's, encountering many adventures on his way. 

But Robin met his biggest challenge yet when the Welsh attacked the castle.  Will Robin be able to save the day?  I think you, kind reader, know the answer.  :)

This book contains a good example of working hard to overcome/compensate for physical disability.  It teaches perseverance, patience, courage.  The title is based on Revelation 3:8, "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."  Brother Luke refers to a door in the wall several times to teach Robin along the lines of the adage, "When God closes a door He opens a window."  He wanted Robin to know that there would always be opportunities for him to learn, grow and succeed.  For example, "Whether thou'lt walk soon I know not.  This I know. We must teach thy hands to be skillful in many ways, and we must teach thy mind to go about whether thy legs will carry thee or no.  For reading is another door in the wall." (p. 29)

Sir Peter says, "Each of us has his place in the world.  If we cannot serve in one way, there is always another.  If we do what we are able, a door always opens to something else." (p. 71) 

One last quote from Brother Luke.  "Fret not , my son.  None of us is perfect.  It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit.  We can only do the best we can with what we have.  That, after all, is the mearsure of success: what we do with what we have." (p. 76)

de Angeli, Marguerite. The Door in the Wall. Doubleday, 1949.