In "The Pardoner's Tale", where does the old man tell the rioters to look for Death, and how do the rioters treat the old man?

Expert Answers
Payal Khullar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the three rioters in the Pardoner’s Tale are restlessly looking for death, they meet a poor, old man on the way.

An old man, and a poor, with them did meet

Although the old man talks to them very politely, they are very rude to him.

This ancient man full meekly them did greet,
And said thus: “Now, lords, God keep you and see!

One of the three rioters “that was most insolent of the three” even asks the old man why he was still alive.

Why do you live so long in so great age?

The old man replies to his questions politely saying that it is God’s will and that even “Death” isn’t interested in taking his life. He adds, however, that it was “no courtesy to speak to an old man despitefully”

As the old man prepares to leave, the three rioters ask him where “Death” was since he “spoke just now of that same traitor Death”. They tell him that he was a spy of death, who was involved in killing their friends.

Hear my true word, since you are his own spy,
Tell where he is or you shall rue it, aye

The old man tells the three men that if they want to find death, they have to first “turn up this crooked way” because “Death” was hiding under the oak tree over there.

Under a tree, and there he will abide;
Nor for your boasts will he a moment hide.
See you that oak? Right there you shall him find. 

He tells them that they will certainly be able to find “Death” there and it will not run away or hide from them.

Nor for your boasts will he a moment hide

robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three drunkards are really very rude to the old man. He greets them very politely, but one of the drunkards responded rudely and asked him why he was still alive - as he was so old, he should be dead.

The old man responds to this rudeness by saying that he does not think it appropriate to speak to an old man like that, as well as adding that he would love to die - he keeps knocking on the door of death, he says, but it will not open for him.

The drunkards then continue to be rude to the old man, telling him that he will regret it if he does not tell them where death is.

He responds:

To fynde deeth, turne up this croked wey,
For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey,
Under a tree, and there he wole abyde;
Noght for youre boost he wole him no thyng hyde.
Se ye that ook? right there ye shal hym fynde.
God save yow...

(line by line translation:)

To find Death, go up this crooked path
For I left him in that grove, honestly,
Under a tree - and he will stay there -
He will not hide anything despite what you say.
Do you see that oak? You'll find him right there.
God save you!

Hope it helps!

Read the study guide:
The Canterbury Tales

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