Who joins chaucer at the start of the prologue and for what reason?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The narrator of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" begins his story at the Tabard Inn, which is located in Southwick (London). 

"In Southwark at the Tabard, as I lay"

While there, the narrator meets his soon to be travelling companions.  He meets 29 of them at the inn.  With himself, that makes 30.  Add to that the host, Harry Bailey, and the total group number is 31.  If I'm being super specific, the group eventually gets to 32 though.  Along the trip a character named the Canon's Yeoman joins the group. 

The reason for the narrator's trip is the same reason that the rest of the group has as well.  They are all making a pilgrimage to Canterbury in order to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett.  

Ready to start upon my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, full of devout courage,
There came at nightfall to that hostelry
Some nine and twenty in a company

The reader will learn later exactly who some of the group are specifically.  Chaucer meant to have each person tell 2 tales, but it didn't happen.  

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