Part 3 and 4 of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The struggle for power continues as William repeatedly attempts to disrupt and end construction of Tom’s cathedral. In addition to this, new characters and plots are introduced and developed:

Tom remarries after his wife dies from giving birth. His new wife, Ellen, has a son from a previous relationship named Jack. Tom’s son from his earlier marriage is named Alfred. A rivalry forms between the two when they both would like to marry Aliena after working on the cathedral together. Again, Follett’s use of characterization effectively creates a clear sense of which character is the protagonist and which the an antagonist. This is shown when Aliena, already established as a “good” character, favors Jack. Although Jack may be less authoritative than Alfred, his kindness and sensitivity fits the needs of Aliena when having the duty of supporting her brother. Also, Follett chooses to victimize Jack in several instances, one being when he gets into a fight with Alfred regarding his deceased father. Throughout the fight, Alfred is described in an inferior way, such as when Follet says, “Jack’s forehead smashed into his mouth. Jack was two or three inches shorter and a lot lighter,” and “Jack got out of the way and stood watching, feeling stunned and helpless.” (566). This victimization and focus on Jack allows the reader to sympathize with him, further developing him as the protagonist.

A theme that was prevalent in these sections was the importance of having hope. The protagonists consistently face conflicts that leave them in a poor state with almost nothing to do. Many of these troubles are not resolved (and I am expecting them to be in the next couple of sections), but the characters still have a positive outlook, making sure to find ways in which they can compromise, adapt, and ideally succeed.



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2 responses to “Part 3 and 4 of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

  1. mohnishjudge3

    Part 5 and 6 of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    Years pass and the story is simplified abruptly when Tom Builder dies in one of William’s many violent attempts to claim Shiring. It seems that justice is far from returning until Richard and Aliena reclaim their power, Waleran Bigod’s plans to preserve his power are stopped, and William is tried and killed for murder. In the process, the cathedral is finished by Jack as Alfred is killed for attempting to rape Aliena.
    While this summarization may seem brief, these events are described in around 200 pages. Follett manages to capture the attention of the reader throughout. He illustrates different plots so meticulously that I found it hard to believe that this was not a historical account. His use of suspense and structure produces a flow to the reading. Once the reader starts to read, it is difficult to stop because it is almost certain that they will stop before a crucial scene or a turning point in the story. With this being said, I read the book in large proportions rather than in small bits as I usually do. I learned quite a bit about myself as a reader from this. I found that it was more enjoyable to read in large quantities because it allowed me to sympathize with the characters and understand the plot in a more cohesive manner, limiting the amount of times I had to remind myself of these things. The length also revealed perseverance that I did not know I had. This is is the first book I have read that approaches 1000 pages. At times it felt as if I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but now that I have, it is extremely satisfying and I am glad that I kept reading. Also, it was very lucky for me to come across this book because Follett’s writing certainly helped with reaching this goal. I would rate this The Pillars of the Earth a 9/10 and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great adult novel that explores another period of time in history.

  2. clarkjones1

    Thank you for your insight into the Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. The strong characterization is very key to maintaining a strong plot line especially with forming rivalries as you mentioned in your first post. The idea of effective characterization is very rare nowadays with authors rushing through their characters to skip to the action. Your use of quotes also strengthen your understanding of the novel and proves that the author is able to portray his story members wisely.

    However, I do not think that my eagerness to finish a novel in one sitting would allow me to read a book that, according to, would take 23 hours and 43 minutes to finish. I applaud you for your concentration and dedication to such a precise novel.

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