picture of duelling pistols

Dueling

In Arcadia, the prospective duel is to be held at 5:00 a.m. behind the boathouse between Ezra Chater and Septimus Hodge. The dispute is over Septimus' act of carnal embrace with Mrs. Chater in the gazebo. This prospective duel, however, according to history's account of the "common duel", was not common. For one, Septimus did not choose a second. The reader would think he would have chosen Byron, his literary friend. Perhaps he did not choose a second due to the fact that he didn't care if he died anyway, and one of the duties of the seconds was to arrange a peaceful settlement. By not choosing Byron, Septimus obviously had a good reason to keep him alive. Arcadia doesn't clearly tell us why and leaves it up to the reader's discretion. The duel was also odd in that the offended party did not challege, but the offender, being Septimus, challenged. When challenging, Septimus seems confident that he will kill both Chater and Captain Brice, Chater's second. Chater does not seem confident at all, in fact, he did not ever agree to the duel. One might say Captain Brice forced him into it indirectly. When Septimus announces that he will kill Ezra Chater, Captain Brice's response is one of approval. This could be because he has an eye for Mrs. Chater. The prospective weapons to be used are pistols, called rabbit pistols, to avoid suspicion of the duel.

The duel is important because it is the cause of Bernard's humiliation. Bernard, going too much by gut instinct, strongly believes that Byron killed Ezra Chater in a duel. He thought that Byron was the one that seduced Mrs. Chater and therefore the duel took place, Byron being triumphant. Bernard's reasoning behind this was the fact that Mrs. Chater then married Captain Brice; however, we find out that the duel never took place and Mr. Chater was the same Chater that died of a monkey bite, not to a deadly pistol shot in a duel with Byron.



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Page design and composition by Kathryn Gustafson and Ingrid Edstrom.


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