Choose a novel or short story in which the fate of a main character is important in conveying the writer’s theme.
Robert Jenkins’ “The Cone-Gatherers,” gives an archetypal depiction of the never ending struggle between good and evil. By using two contrasting characters, John Duror : the self implosive villian and Calum : the innocent ,christ like, hunch backed cone-gatherer he explores how one can become corrupted and bitter by evil. Duror’s passionate loathing for Calum’s physical short comings and all deformaty or phsycological alement in general reflects humanities ability to hate and inevitably kill over disagreements or differences in belief. Jenkins’ use of the war as a back drop illustrates to the reader that the driving force behind the war is the same to that of Duror’s animosity. Jenkins uses the fate of a main character to help coney this theme also, the use of various techniques including characterisation, key incident and setting convey how good and evil are universal forces affecting everyday people’s lives and whole countries in negative ways, just as in the case of Duror and Calum.
The novel is built up around the two brothers Calum and Neil, in post war Britain. The brothers are working on the estate of a high class aristocat, Lady-Runcie Campbell collecting the cones from trees as part of the war effort. Also on the estate is John Duror the game keeper who resents the presence of the cone gatherers, he begins to spread lies about Calum in order to have him removed from the wood and organises a deer drive which he knew Calum would spoil (due to his sympathy for all animals).
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This plan works to an extent but also gives a glimpse that he himself may not be sound of mind. Shortly afterwards the brothers are caught in a violent storm and are forced to take refuge within Lady-Runcie campbells beach-hut – which they are forbidden to do – and are found by the Lady herself who is also seeking shelter. She then wants them removed from her grounds, Mr Tulloch ( friend to the brothers) can do nothing to keep them and agrees to have them leave by the weekend, but unfortunatly by then Durors reaches breaking point and kills Calum and himself during the commotion caused by the Ladies son being stuck up a tree.
Jenkin’s use of characterisation effectivly portrays the evil within Duror. He also makes the reader unable to dismiss Durors wicked and uncomfroting thoughts “He felt an icy hand on his brow as he imagined that hideous but liberating fratricide”, and also it is made clear from the very begining his feelings towards Calum as he stands in his ‘ icy sweat of hatred’ observing how Calum’s face is so ‘beautiful and guileless’, making the reader question his mistreatment of the cone-gatherer. It is also dicomforting to see that from the actions he takes Duror gets a thrill from using and hurting those around him. By providing moments were Duror’s humanity cannot be dismissed Jenkins makes the reader unable to condem him wholely as a villain, for instance Mrs Morton gives us a sympathetic view of Duror suggesting that he has had his share of failures, his wife semming to be the greatest. This alienates the reader and forces them acknoledge that evil and humanity goes hand in hand, and it is something we are all susceptible to.
The use of keyscenes help futher the writres message using particularly loaded events. For instance final confrontation of good and evil in the book.We see Callum get killed by Duror while he is picking cones,the cones that he had collected begin to fall out of his bag. These cones represent the idea of regeneration and a fresh start. Callum may have died but he has sacrificed himself, so a better world can exists afterwards, similar to the way Jesus sacrificed himself.In the same way, Duror’s suicide shows the collapse of evil by killing Calum the symbol of good he had to kill himself the representation of evil. We then see Lady Runcie Campbell kneel in an prayer like stance towards Callum where she begins to weep and gather the blood stained cones that represent hope for a new future. This sign of respect towards Callum shows how highly she now regards him to that previously where she had been afraid to touch him, but now treats him like an equal to be moured. While she was kneeling “purified hope, and joy, welled up in her heart.” this description suggests a positive change in her beliefs. This proves that although it took the death of a person, belifs can be changed, and prejudices overcome, and this will clear a path for a better future.
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In conclusion i believe that by through the characterisation of Duror and Callum Jenkins effectively illustrates the conflict between good vs evil. By using the war as a backdrop Jenkis manages to highlight the potential evil within us all, and how hitlers rampage against the Jews represents Duror’s hatered towards Callum. By the end of the book we see a change in Lady-Rucie Campbell as she is gathering the spilt cones. This implies that good has overcome evil and that in the defeat of evil a positive change was then allowed to happen. This leaves us feeling a deep sense of joy and hope and in my opinion i imagine that this is what Jenkins was aiming for, he was trying to state that evil can always be overcome and there is always hope for the future.