Family is a central part of the narrative in Sir Degaré. Abandoned as a child, Degaré’s main purpose is in the search for his family and, by extension, a respectable place in society.
Degaré attains knighthood through physical strength, but his journey as a character is more complex than rescuing an earl from a dragon or defeating a king in combat. In showing bravery and overcoming obstacles through sheer physical power, he is lead closer and closer to a reunion with his family. However, there are unforeseen complications. For example, he gains a marriage to his own mother (unbeknownst to him at the time) in his triumph over the king in battle.
It also struck me that the story was like an inverted version of the tragedy of Oedipus. Sir Degaré marries his mother, but realizes the error in time to avoid consummating the relationship. He fights his father in the end, but ultimately does not kill him. During the inevitable confrontation between father and son, a reconciliation occurs rather than the “standard” death of the father. This is an unusual outcome for a story dealing with issues of patrimony and quasi-incest. For instance, Mordred (the illegitimate son of King Arthur in Arthurian legend), kills his own father in battle.
In light of everything that happened in the story, the family situation is, at best, confusing. How could his mother reunite with the father in the end after she had been raped by the very same “fairy knight?” It seems like a happy ending until the implications of what they all mean to each other sinks in, which is to say: how do they all relate to one another? In fact, I would characterize the ending as curiously happy considering the seemingly uncomplicated reunion of his parents in conjunction with any lingering issues of resentment he should have felt toward them for abandoning him as a child.