Chapter 6 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 844

The guests will all be spending the stormy night in Cedric's mansion. A servant assigned to show the Palmer to his room is joined by Wamba in his eagerness to know all the Palmer knows of Ivanhoe, for the estranged son of Cedric is called Wilfrid of Ivanhoe.

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The Palmer declines to discuss "in the kitchen" what is "prohibited in the Hall," much disappointing the domestic staff. The servant takes his revenge by lodging the Palmer in a tiny room next to Isaac the Jew. Rowena's maid, however, intercepts them, bringing Rowena's summons to the Palmer.

Rowena's rooms are large and elaborately decorated compared to the rest of Cedric's Saxon warrior lodge. Her maids retreat to the other side of the room as she greets the Palmer. She also is interested in hearing news of Ivanhoe, whom they believe to have been wounded and left behind in Palestine, persecuted by Norman knights.

The Palmer pleads ignorance beyond a belief that Ivanhoe is returning soon to England and that Rowena herself has a better idea of his "chance of happiness" on his return. Rowena wishes that he were safe in England and able to participate in the tournament. She worries that Athelstane, a relative of hers, will win. Then she asks if Ivanhoe's appearance has been altered much by disease; the Palmer is unsure. Rowena tips the Palmer for his information and sends him back to find his room.

The Palmer is content to be lodged between Isaac in the room to his left and Gurth in the room to his right. He does not sleep but rises at dawn and goes into Isaac's room. Isaac wakes terrified from a nightmare, and the Palmer warns him to leave the house immediately and travel as quickly as he can. Understanding the eastern language of Sir Brian's attendants, the Palmer has overheard the Templar's order to overtake Isaac on the road once he has left Cedric's land and carry him off to the house of a neighboring baron.

Isaac collapses in terror, fearing the torture he expects will be used to extort a ransom for his life. The Palmer offers to escort Isaac through the forest to avoid Sir Brian's men. Initially grateful, Isaac soon becomes suspicious, believing that the Palmer must have the same end in mind.

Assured by the Palmer, Isaac goes along with his rescuer to Gurth's room. The Palmer orders Gurth to let them out by the postern gate, but Gurth is not willing to leave his bed. Wamba wanders in and is surprised by the Palmer's commanding tone. The swineherd is unmoved until the Palmer whispers something in his ear. Gurth immediately leaps up and serves the Palmer with peculiar devotion.

With Gurth's help, the Palmer and Isaac leave the manor unnoticed by the household, and the Palmer takes them quickly through the forest. Isaac's suspicions return because he cannot understand the Palmer's motives for helping a Jew. Cedric's reception of Isaac at Rotherwood is obligatory by his own unbending rules of hospitality, but Isaac is plainly not a welcome guest.

Wamba's wry observations on the irony of the Templar's religious prejudices are made within the context of the jester's own anti-Semitism. The Palmer's rescue of Isaac is carried out with a sense of revulsion.

The narrator describes the quandary of medieval Jews, who were on one hand essential to the nobles as sources of loans and on the other hand almost without any legal protection. Their reputation as possessors of vast wealth combined with their social degradation made them frequent targets of crime and violent persecution. In the warrior society of medieval England, the fear, humiliation, and disingenuous poverty they carried with them lowered them even further in the estimation of those, like the Palmer, who lived by the code of chivalry.

As they approach the relative safety of the town of Sheffield, the Palmer repeatedly refuses Isaac's tentative offers of gratitude. Isaac naturally wishes to reward the Palmer, whose assistance entailed much personal risk. The Palmer denies that he would be of any real use if they had been attacked, given that he is merely a poor, weaponless, nonviolent pilgrim.

Isaac tells the Palmer that he can guess what the Palmer needs most and that in Sheffield he has a wealthy relative who can supply it: a horse and armor. The Palmer is surprised; Isaac is shrewd observer and has seen through the Palmer's disguise. He gives the Palmer a letter ordering the horse and armor, asking only that they be returned or purchased after the tournament. The Palmer reminds Isaac that he might lose, which Isaac dismisses as unlikely.

The Palmer asserts that Jews don't give anything without expecting something in return, to which Isaac—repressing his initial reaction—replies that there will be no charge if the horse or armor are damaged. He blesses the Palmer and tells him not to be reckless at the tournament, not for the sake of the horse but for his own safety. The Palmer thanks him, and they go their own ways.

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