Presentation on theme: "The cone gatherers."— Presentation transcript:
1 The cone gatherers
2 Introduction‘The Cone-Gatherers’ by Robin Jenkins is set in Scotland during World War II.It is set on the estate of the Runcie-Campbells, a wealthy Scottish family.The action takes place over a few days in Autumn in the forest on the estate. The trees are to be cut down to provide wood for the war effort.The cones from the trees are to be collected before the forest is destroyed so that the trees can be replaced.Brothers Calum and Neil have been sent to do this hard, demanding work.
3 Chapter OneIn the opening chapter we are introduced to Calum and Neil who are high in the trees gathering cones. It is set during WWII and the forest is to be cut down for wood and needs to be replaced. Thus the reason for gathering cones.We also find out that Calum is very compassionate to animals and is very sensitive to their pain. He has released rabbits from their traps which angers Duror, the main character in the novel.The reader begins to learn of Duror’s shocking opinions. He hates the brothers, particularly Calum because of his deformity and wants him out of his wood.
4 Good - CalumCalum has a childlike innocence and an affinity with natureCalum cannot understand why animals kill each otherHe successfully blocks out the war • The extent of Calum’s love of animals is realised when he sees a rabbit in distressCalum is skilled in carving – nature
5 Evil - Duror Calum’s compassion for the rabbits angers Duror
He vows to get rid of the brothers Duror spies on the brothers – his hatred revealed Duror thinks that his obsession with the brothers is a ‘noose of disgust’Shocking revelation from Duror’s childhood. His revulsion of anything imperfect stems from childhood.There is an indication that Duror may act on his feelings of hatredHe is obsessed with the brothers and cannot help spying on them Shockingly, Duror supports the Nazi regimeHe fantasises about murder We become aware that the hatred in Duror will not leave him without tragic consequences
6 Class The brothers live in squalid conditions
Neil is aware of the vast differences between them and the Runcie-CampbellsHe questions their living accommodation when there are more suitable, humane solutions
7 Chapter 2In chapter two we meet Dr. Matheson as Duror is walking home form the woods.He offers Duror a lift home, which for Duror is an inconvenience as he will have to make small talk with the doctor.The doctor seems to be more interested in the lack of food due to the war and is not at all happy about it as he is used to fine food such as venison and whisky.Duror returns home to a desperately unhappy home life. His wife, Peggy, is morbidly overweight and is bedridden.We also meet the dour, hostile mother in-law Mrs Lochie. She blames Duror for her daughter’s misfortune and wants him to spend more time with her.We are of course, aware that Duror is repelled by anything that is deformed.
8 Chapter 2 - DurorDuror meets Dr. Matheson. We can tell he is not happy about having to talk to the doctorDuror’s wife Peggy is morbidly obese. Why is this so significant?When asked about Peggy he is compared to a tree. What does this tell us about his relationship?The doctor is suspicious that despite Duror’s stalwart and stoic appearance, something dark lurks in his mindThe doctor admires Duror’s stoic natureDuror is desperately unhappy at home yet he hides his sufferingDuror thinks of the cone-gatherers and how he is becoming obsessedHas Duror known that his sanity would, at one time, escape him?
9 Duror’s unhappy home-life
Duror wishes that he could be in the ‘miserable hut’ rather than be at home Mrs LochieShe, like Duror will never show her sufferingMrs Lochie is aware of, and not afraid to comment on, Duror’s dissatisfaction with his married life PeggyDuror likens Peggy with CalumPeggy and Duror were, at one time, happy
10 Duror’s Madness Duror has a strong bond with his dogs
His dogs then sense the inner turmoil in their master’s mind as he fantasises about thrashing them – he manages to regain controlWe first hear of the deer drive and the hatching of the evil plan to create immense suffering for the brothers
11 Chapter 3In this chapter we are introduced to Lady Runcie Campbell’s rather clumsy son, Roderick.We are also introduced to his sister Sheila and their uncle Captain Forgan.It is in this chapter that Duror involves Mrs. Morton, the cook-housekeeper, and Lady RC in his plan to destroy the cone-gatherers.
12 Duror’s LiesMrs Morton is used by Duror and becomes involved in his plot. She has shown no hostility towards the brothersDuror tells Mrs Morton that he saw Calum exposing himself in the woods and is a threat to young girls like SheilaMrs Morton and Duror have feelings for each other but perhaps now Duror is incapable of loveDuror admits to Mrs Morton that he needs help
13 Chapter 4 Day two – in a discussion with Lady RC, Duror suggests that Calum and Neil be used as beaters.She asks Mr Tulloch and he agrees that they can be used. However, he phones back to explain that Calum has scruples over being a beater.Lady RC asks Duror for advice and her Christian values are overcome by her aristocratic values. Later though she proposes a compromise – that only Neil be used.Duror will have none of it. Thus the fateful deer hunt is to go ahead.
14 Lady Runcie Campbell - Class
Lady Runcie Campbell struggles with her Christian Values, she should be compassionate to those less fortunate than her. However, her aristocratic status often contradicts this.The theme of class often explores this contradiction (note how she was so easily persuaded by Duror to make them stay in the hut)Lady RC cannot understand Roderick’s admiration for NeilLady RC does not want the brothers near her homeTulloch explains Calum’s squeamishness to Lady RC and she refuses to understand (conflict between Christianity and class) CALUMLady RC directly compares him to Christ
15 Duror - EvilDuror knows that his actions are wrong and will implicate Lady RC in his evil planImagery is used to convey the fact that he is aware he is overcome with evil (filth)Roderick’s dislike of DurorDuror considers another opportunity for evil – he imagines that Roderick has a terrible accident and diesHe does not understand why he responded the way he didImagery used to describe the terrible liesAnother admission from Duror that he is totally aware of all the evil he is doing: Peggy, Mrs Morton, to destroy the CGs.
16 Chapter 5 In this chapter we learn of Neil’s worries over Calum.
He is fearful of Calum’s fate should anything happen to him. Duror tries to climb the tree but suffers from dizziness.The brothers learn that they must take part in the deer hunt.Neil, furious on behalf of Calum, tells Duror that they are ‘free men’ and that they will not take part.Calum, out of love for his brother, agrees to try his best to take part.
17 Class The hut is a symbol of humiliation for Neil
Neil is humble and believes that the RCs represent the power of the worldNeil is aware of the hatred that Duror has for him and his brother but cannot understand it
18 Extended Metaphor of trees
There is another example here of the extended metaphor of the trees:“He was like a tree still straight, still showing green leaves; but underground death was creeping along the roots.”This is also where Duror has his first thoughts of suicide.
19 Extended Metaphor of trees
Throughout the novel, the image of a tree is repeatedly connected to Duror’s character, and very effectively shows his development as a character.We first learn of this tree relatively early on in the book, but Jenkins refers back to it throughout.He builds on the image creating a very detailed timeline that show us his mental state gradually deteriorating until, eventually, it is entirely rotten.
20 Extended Metaphor of trees
I think that this metaphor of the tree growing inside Duror can be broken up into three main stages;His connection with the Elm Tree, how he found comfort in it and almost companionship from looking at it and being around it.The “Tree of Hatred” that has taken root in his mind, and how it continues to grow and fruit throughout the duration of the novel.When he is compared to an entirely rotten tree, and how this shows us just the extent of his illness, and how it has entirely corrupted the man he once was.Each of these images symbolises a different stage of his mental health, the first being his sanity and how he is able to cope with him situation, the second being mental illness, his gradual decline in his rationality and mental stability, and the third being a complete loss of reality and a total mental collapse.
21 The Great ElmTo Duror, the Great Elm tree that grows outside his house is extremely significant to him. To him, it is a physical manifestation of everything he believes in and stands for, and as a result, he felt a very strong emotional connection to it.Whenever he was feeling particularly down, or just wanted some company, he would go to this elm tree, and look at it, or even merely put his hand on it. That action in itself would be enough to comfort and solace him. He looks at this tree as a perfect example of the way nature should be: “Living in the way ordained, resisting the buffets and tempests, and repairing with its own strength the damage suffered.”To Duror, this tree is a living representation of endurance, a figure able to withstand anything and merely move on with life unscathed, even when it is hurt.This tree is everything that Duror aspires to be, especially given his situation with his wife, and how he no longer feels or receives the intimacy that he once did from her. He feels the need to be able to bear through his situation in the hopes that will get better, and ultimately just like the elm tree, repair the damage and move on with his life.
22 The Great ElmAnd for a period of time, he can do just that. The tree helps him endure through his pain, and he satisfied with himself.But with the introduction of the war, and more so the Cone Gatherers to the forest, he feels tainted, as though his mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that now, he no longer deserves to share that bond he had with the tree.To so much as glance at it would be to betray it, and in the process taint it with his corruption. It is at this point, that his mental health starts to decline at an increasing rate.We also find that Duror feels as though he himself has a tree growing inside him, but not a tree like the great elm, rather a tree of hatred and malice.
23 The ‘Tree of Hatred’ within Duror
We first learn of Duror’s “Tree of hatred” very early on in the novel, when he is fantasising about the cone gatherers falling out of a tree and dying.He explains to us that he is fully aware of the tree of revultion growing inside him and could name every item, “Fruit, leaf and branch”, but does not understand the cause of it, and suggests to us that he has no control over it.It is as if the great elm tree that he once found as a physical embolism of his mental state has begun to decay, and this tree inside him is the result.This is the start of his mental decline, and also his realisation of his hatred of Calum.
24 The ‘Tree of Hatred’ within Duror
Slightly later in the novel, he is requested by Lady Runcie Campbell to inform the Cone Gatherers that they are required to beat at the deer drive, and had thought it to be a good idea to climb up the tree to tell them.He finds out in this chapter, that he is however afraid of heights and as a result is frustrated in himself that he cannot do what Calum does many times every day.As a result, he comes to the conclusion that he must be “Far more ill and decayed than he first thought.”.This shows us that he understands his gradual decline of sanity, but the fact that he says “decayed” suggests to us that he does think of this as a tree inside of him, rather than his mental health.
25 The ‘Tree of Hatred’ within Duror
He goes on to describe himself as a large tree, stood straight, whom on the outside looks fit and healthy, but “Underground death was creeping along the roots”. This is an apt comparison as it effectively sums up how the people of the estate view him.Nobody has ever questioned his sanity, or even his health in general before, as they have all thought him to be a very stoic, resilient man, and previously he was, as he had the help of his elm tree.But now, with this corruption and decay spreading through his roots, on the outside he looks fine, but on the inside this malice and hatred are creeping through him, consuming him and taking over his life like an obsession.
26 The Rotten Tree Finally, Duror’s mental health degrades to such a point where he has descended entirely into madness.His obsession with both this tree that he has become, and the Cone Gatherers has led him to the point where he has lost his grip on reality, and no longer has any real control over what he is doing.During the final chapter, Graham’s reference to the tree metaphor shows us the final outcome of Duror’s struggle.When running through the woods to inform Lady Runcie Campbell of Neil’s decision not to help, he comes across Duror standing next to a completely rotten tree.He describes Duror as being, “As still as the dead tree itself.” This shows us just the extent of Duror’s corruption, and how despite originally his decline was a primarily internal struggle, it has got to the point where he has become so decayed that it is outwardly noticeable.
27 The Rotten TreeHis once great elm tree, the standing memento of resilience and endurance has now become a rotten husk of its former self, entirely corrupted by isolation and illness.Graham then goes on to explain to Duror about the situation with Roderick, and how the gatherers have refused to help out.As he is speaking, a large chunk of the rotten tree falls off and lands by his feet. It is at this point, that Duror’s mental state finally snaps.That piece of falling wood symbolises the last push that Duror needed to become truly and absolutely insane, and from that moment onwards he is in complete madness.As Duror leaves the scene, Graham remarks that “It was as if the rotten tree itself had moved…”
28 Other PointsDuror used to feel that the forest was his sanctuary. A place that he felt safe, and comfortable in, and a place that he often visited to help him with his issues.But now, with the introduction of the Cone Gatherers to his forest, he feels as though this place that he once loved has become tainted with them, and now the mere thought of his forest leads to hatred towards the men.I feel that this is significant, as it mirrors Duror’s relationship with Peggy. Just like he used to find solace and comfort with her, and how he once loved her, now she has become tainted by her disability and her obesity.Now, as a result of this, even the thought of her disgusts him, and fuels his hatred towards her.
29 Other Points Calum is always said to be exceptionally good at climbing trees.This angers Duror, as he finds trees comforting, almost like friends, and to have someone that he despises to climb on them is almost insulting to him.He feels as though the trees are being infringed upon, and that it is his duty to stop this, and do something about it.This could be one of the factors that continue to fuel his hatred towards Calum throughout the novel.
30 Tree Quotations“A large elm tree stood outside his house. Many times just by staring at it, his mind had been soothed, his faith in his ability to endure to the end had sustained” (page 22)“He must therefore be far more ill and decayed than he had first thought.” (page 71)“He was like a tree still straight, still showing green leaves, but underground death was creeping along the roots…” (page 71)“The dead ash clawed at the sky with branches as white as bones” (page 81)“He could not move; he was as powerless as the elm beside him and for those two or three minutes he had felt his sap, poisoned, flowing out of him into the dark earth.” (page 117)“Duror seemed to be as still as the tree itself” (page 211)“As he spoke, a piece of the tree broke off, and dropped by his feet.” (page 212)“Duror was stalking away towards the Point, it was as if the rotting tree itself had moved.” (page 212)
31 Chapter 5 – Duror continues to decline – the plot of the Deer Drive
“He had not anticipated… the sickening of his very will to hate… It seemed to him that he must therefore be far more ill and decayed than he had thought. He was like a tree still straight, still showing green leaves; but underground death was creeping along the roots.”The word choice and imagery show:The decline in Duror – he is sickening, becoming illThe growing root of evilThat the end result is inevitably death
32 Chapter 6 – The Deer Drive
Lady Runcie-Campbell organises a deer hunt in honour of her brother, Captain Forgan, who is on leave from serving in WWII.Neil is outraged on behalf of Calum that they have been asked to act a beaters.Neil insists that they do not take part. It is in this chapter that Duror reveals to others the psychological problems he has been experiencing.
33 Chapter 6 – The Deer Drive
Chapter 6 forms a turning point in the novelDuror’s plan to get rid of Calum in the deer drive comes to a headDuror’s growing madness comes out in public – in front of nearly all of the key characters. Calum throws himself on the deer, Duror throws Calum off and violently slits the throat of the deer, as he thinks it is Peggy – this links back to Chapter 2 and the revelation that the root of his problem is sexual frustration caused by his wife’s illness“Rushing upon the stricken deer and the frantic hunchback, he threw the latter off with furious force, and then, seizing the former’s head with one hand cut the throat savagely with the other.”Note the word “savagely” which shows Duror’s change from human to savage- this links to the idea of turning point as Duror has changed
34 Chapter 6 – The Deer Drive
“Peggy?” he asked. “What’s happened to Peggy?”This shows what was actually in Duror’s mind when he slit the deer’s throat.The root of the anger is connected to Peggy and deformityBut when he looks at Calum Duror realises something about himself:“He understood for the first time why he hated the hunchback so profoundly and yet was so fascinated by him. For many years his life had been stunted, misshapen, obscene and hideous and this misbegotten creature was its personification.”This is Duror’s insight (useful for Higher questions on characters who experience insight)Calum's outward appearance is like Duror’s inward appearance.This unsettles Duror as it provokes him to madness with fatal consequences. The killing of the Deer also foreshadows the conclusion of the novel when a further violent incident will take place.
35 Chapter 6 – The Deer Drive
This chapter is a turning point for many reasons. Up to this point it has only been the reader who has been aware of the evil within Duror.At the deer hunt his deterioration is exploited publicly.It is also the point at which it is clear that the cone- gatherers will no longer be able to remain in the woods.Furthermore, after the deer hunt, we are to a large extent, shut off from Duror’s thoughts.We do not see him very often in the rest of the novel and often only through the eyes of other characters.
36 Chapter 6 – The Deer Drive – Duror
Duror’s nightmare – he reveals his mental state to othersHis plan to kill Calum is connected to the fact that he has come to hate his wife and longs to be rid of herDuror has repressed his feelings which is why he appears stoic and ‘stalwart’Duror’s intense hatred of Calum continues to grow and it is shocking to the reader to discover that his evil plan to rid them from the wood is far from over (reference to Christ)
37 Climax of The Deer Drive
Calum, with overwhelming sympathy for the deer flings himself upon the deer, regardless of his own safetyDuror laughs like a madmanHe carries out the savage attack on the deerHe asks for Peggy in a state of confusionHe furiously attacks CalumIt seems that both Duror and Lady RC blame Calum for the horrific eventsDuror’s misery returns with the realisation that his wife is not dead
38 Chapter 8As a consequence of the scene at the Deer Drive, Duror has a doctor’s appointment .The theme of internal conflict is revisited in the scene with Duror and Dr Matheson. Duror gets a diagnosis of the roots of his illness. Dr Matheson continues to be the reliable witness so his conclusion is right: This is the reason for Duror’s madness:“Since your wife’s illness you have never had relations with her?”“Therefore you have lived like a monk ever since. This has set up stresses and now it is affecting you physically.” (p.102)The doctor looks at ways in which Duror can address this problem:“Other women” (break religious and social rules, and affair was unacceptable in this community)“Religious acceptance” (have “faith” but Duror does not believe in God)“Endurance” – this is the doctor’s advice, they drink a toast to it: “Aye, to endurance.” (p.103)
39 Chapter 9 - Duror Duror returns from his consultation with Dr. MathesonHere we witness Duror's inner turmoil. This is how he really feels – he is a man on the brink, as his physical positioning at the edge of the pier highlights.The actions which he considers are not only brutal, but final.Furthermore, there is a direct contrast here between his outward appearance and his inner feelings.Duror “stared” at the water which would indicate that he is looking for himself, seeking an answer in his reflection. However, because it is night, he can see nothing below him but darkness. Thus there is no hope for him, no salvation.Duror appears to realise that he has reached the end. However the fact that he "halted" would suggest that he is unable to end his own suffering.Duror's longing for the end encourages sympathy from the reader. There is an inherent sadness here, and the realisation that death would be preferable to life is expressed through the use of the word "wish".
40 Chapter 9 - DurorChapter 9 is the second turning point in the novel. It marks the end of hope and the beginning of the end.Duror rejects the doctor’s advice and goes drinking.“The result was a revulsion against the doctor’s reiterated philosophy of endurance…” (the doctor’s bag is rejected) (p.104)Note word choice “revulsion”: a powerful disgust – Duror totally rejects the idea of “endurance” – there is no way he can live with this“He (Duror) felt in a mood for murder, rape or suicide” (p.104)This reveals Duror’s true emotional state and foreshadows the end of the novel.
41 Chapter 9 - DurorWhy murder? – Duror believes that getting rid of the cone gatherer will resolve the terrible feelings inside of him, Calum’s appearance in the wood unsettled him, his removal should settle him down again. Duror will ultimately kill Calum.Why rape? – this reinforces the root of sexual frustration but this is directed towards Calum, are the lies about Calum masturbating really projections of what Duror himself was doing? Duror will sexually assault something.Why suicide? – this reinforces Duror as an isolated character. He feels alone in this and has lost the will to live. Duror will kill himself.The chapter begins with Duror contemplating suicide, but at this point in time he has no means to do it.
Welcome to Mr Yule's resources on 'The Cone Gatherers' by Robin Jenkins. You will find these resources helpful for the Set Scottish Text section of the Critical Reading paper at National 5 and New Higher. In addition original supporting materials for the Critical Essay section may also be helpful.
The BBC National 5 Bitesize section has been updated for 'The Cone Gatherers' and can be found here:
The BBC New Higher version is found here:
The BBC's original Schools pages are currently available at:
These notes will help you prepare for Critical Essay questions such as:
- Choose a novel where setting plays an important part.
- Choose a novel with a theme you found interesting
- Choose a novel where there is conflict between characters
- Choose a novel with a turning point
- Choose a novel where a character experiences rejection
- Choose a novel where a minor character influences the outcome
Or for final commonality questions in the National 5 or New Higher set text questions where you are given a passage to analyse then show how it links elsewhere in the novel: for example how the theme of nature in the examination extract is continued / developed elsewhere in the text.
For National 5 and Higher:
1. You get two marks by stating how another part or parts of the novel have a common link to the examination extract. Make two points here.
2. Then you get a further two marks for some relevant analysis from the examination extract.
3. The next 4 marks (National 5) or 6 marks (New Higher) all come from analysis linked to other parts of the novel. One significant difference between National 5 and New Higher is that you will get some credit for quotation at National 5 but none at New Higher.
“The Cone Gatherers”
Chapter One – introduces the theme of conflict: (use the Powerpoint below to support chapter one)
You need to be familiar with chapter one for a possible question on a novel with an effective opening chapter. You need to know the themes introduced in this chapter and how they are all resolved by the end of the novel.
- conflict in the setting: peaceful perfection v war
- conflict between classes – rich v poor
- conflict between characters – Duror (evil) v Calum (innocence)
Setting: one of perfection – like the biblical Garden of Eden
“it was a good tree”, “many cones”, “much sunshine”
Word choiceis used to give an impression of goodness and abundance
Imageryis also used:
“its topmost branches as comfortable as chairs”
However this perfection is lost – a contrast begins between the perfect setting and conflict:
Alliteration is used to draw our attention to this:
“the sun slip”
“a destroyer had steamed seawards” – note word choice ‘destroyer’ – brings in WW2 and draws attention to theme of conflict
Also onomatopoeia – “gunshots cracked far off in the wood”
There is a further contrast between classes – the rich and the poor:
“a greasy shed”
“hardly bigger than a rabbit hutch”
Assonance draws attention to their filthy state: “the ground round about was filthy with their refuse and ordure”
“A private fence of giant silver firs”
“private” – the poor are to be kept out
“fence” – a symbol that there is a real division between rich and poor
“giant” – this division is huge
“silver” – connotations of wealth – the division is for the benefit of the rich
Conflict between characters: Duror v. Calum
Calum – an innocent character, in touch with nature
“chaffinches fluttered around him”
- connotations with St Francis of Assisi – suggests Calum’s innocence and saint like characteristics
- “fluttered”suggests his gentleness and trustworthiness
- “He (Neil) knew what Calum represented, pity so meek”
- “on the misshapen hump of his body sat a face so beautiful and guileless to be a diabolical joke”
- Oxymoron “diabolical joke” draws attention to the juxtaposition of Calum’s hideous shape on the outside and his beautiful nature on the inside
- The incident with the rabbit demonstrates that Calum can’t harm any living creature “I couldn’t Neil”
Duror – the personification of evil
In order to develop a response to Duror you must refer to the extended metaphor of a decaying tree which Jenkins uses to develop his character. This tree has roots, casts shade and eventually grows ‘fruit’ – outcomes
“the overspreading tree of revulsion in him”
‘overspreading’ – suggests it will overwhelm him and affect others
‘revulsion’ – a powerful word of disgust
Roots of this are in childhood:
“Since childhood Duror had been repelled by anything living that had imperfection, deformity or lack”
Calum’s arrival in the wood has unsettled Duror (because of his outward deformity) and this causes Duror to obsessively dislike the cone gatherer
‘he had waited over an hour to see them pass’
His unreasonableness is shown by ‘he was alone in his obsession’
‘but in him was a force more powerful than common sense or pride. He could not name it, but it dragged him irresistibly down towards that hut”
This force created a fantasy of destruction which foreshadows the outcome of the novel:
“He saw himself returning, kicking open the door, shouting at them in disgust, and then blasting them both to everlasting perdition. He felt an icy hand on his brow as he imagined that hideous but liberating fratricide.”
Duror, unreasonably, believes that if he kills Calum then the unsettled feelings will go and life will return to normal. However, there is another, more historic root to his mental state.
Chapter 2 – Duror’s relationship with his wife, Peggy
The chapter begins with Duror’s encounter with Dr Matheson. Dr Matheson’s role in the story is to be the reliable character whose judgment we can believe and trust.
1. Dr Matheson worries about what was going on inside of Duror’s mind – he explores the roots of Duror’s internal conflict . (p.16)
“God knew how many inhibitions, repressions and complexes were twisting and coiling there, like the snakes of damnation.” – in this use of imagery Dr Matheson makes a clear link with evil comparing Duror’s condition with The Snake – Satan or the Devil himself.
2. Note where Duror placed his gun. (p.14)
“Duror climbed in, placing his gun beside the doctor’s bag on the back seat.” – in this imagetwo possible outcomes for Duror are foreshadowed – medical treatment or violence.
3. The writer’s description of Peggy (p20.)
“The sweetness of her youth still haunting amidst the great wobbling masses of pallid fat that composed her face added to her grotesqueness a pathos that often had visitors bursting into unexpected tears.”
The writer uses word choice:
“haunting” suggests Peggy is a ghost of her former self – creates sympathy
“wobbling masses of pallid fat” – creates disgust and hints at the roots of Duror’s problem, his disgust at her deformity, she literally shows how big Duror’s disgust and internal problems are
“grotesqueness” a strong word suggesting horror but sympathy “pathos” towards her for becoming like this
4. Mrs Lochie’s (Peggy’s mother’s) anger towards God (p.24)
Her role is to be the antagonist – she outwardly voices some of Duror’s inner thoughts
She antagonises Duror about the causes of Peggy’s illness.
- Is it because Peggy has deserved it?
- Is it a punishment for Duror?
- The antagonism at home makes Duror seek peace in the woods with his dogs.
“Even if I had a guarantee in my hand this very minute, saying that Peggy in heaven would have it all made up to, I still wouldn’t be satisfied. It seems to me a shameful thing, to torment the living unjustly and think to remedy it by pampering the dead.”
5. The writer’s description of Calum’s face (p.25)
“His face with its hellish beauty”
Another example of how Jenkins uses oxymoron to draw attention to the conflict between Calum’s outward appearance and his inner nature (refer back to note in Chapter 1) This is a successful choice of technique because oxymoron is the bringing together of two opposites to make a point
3. Chapter 3: The spreading of the lie (overspreading tree of revulsion)
1.The lie to Forgan
“I’m afraid we’ve had a disturbed night. I see I’ve forgotten to shave.”
2. Mrs Lochie’s Accusation
“she accused us of being in bed together, but she put it more coarsely than that.”
3. Theaccusation about Calum
“I saw that imbecile exposing himself… and worse.”
Symbolism: The symbol of ‘seed’
a) Good or innocent ‘seed’
- Duror refers to the gathering of cones, calls them ‘seed’ and the beautiful wood which will grow back from them. (p.37)
b) guilty seed
two sexual references – semen as seed
- Duror and Mrs Morton - could Duror’s sexual repression be resolved with an affair?
- Effie’s old body disgusts him
- By rejecting this possibility he sets his face towards his doom.
- the lie about Calum exposing himself
Chapter 4 – Further spreading of the lie – Lady Runcie-Campbell
Pay attention to LRC’s contribution to the novel as she is useful for a possible answer on an important minor character, or a minor character whose actions influence a novel.
2 key issues
- The spreading of ‘the lie’
- The ‘flaw’ in Lady Runcie-Campbell’s (RLC’s) character – whenever an important decision needs to be taken she defers to Duror
- “Now when he was going to lie again, knowing it would implicate her in his chosen evil.” (p.41)
“chosen” suggests that his actions are deliberate, he still has control.
“It astonished him that she, so generally good, should be helping him in his plan of evil.” (p.49)
The ‘flaw’ in LRC’s character (characterisation of LRC)
“She would have given the cone-gatherers the use of the beach hut, if Duror had not dissuaded her…” (p.41)
(Master Roderick and the gun) “I’m going to abide by your decision” (p.44)
(Mr Tulloch phones back about using Calum in the deer drive) “Do you mind if I consult my gamekeeper for a second?” (p.48)
- Her flaw is her unwillingness to take responsibility and to avoid blame.
Chapter 5 – Duror continues to decline – the plot of the Deer Drive
“He had not anticipated… the sickening of his very will to hate… It seemed to him that he must therefore be far more ill and decayed than he had thought. He was like a tree still straight, still showing green leaves; but underground death was creeping along the roots.”
The word choice and imagery show:
- The decline in Duror – he is sickening, becoming ill
- The growing root of evil
- That the end result is inevitably death
Chapter 6 – Turning Point – the Deer Drive
Chapter 6 forms a turning point in the novel
- Duror’s plan to get rid of Calum in the deer drive comes to a head
- Duror’s growing madness comes out in public – in front of nearly all of the key characters. Calum throws himself on the deer, Duror throws Calum off and violently slits the throat of the deer, as he thinks it is Peggy – this links back to Chapter 2 and the revelation that the root of his problem is sexual frustration caused by his wife’s illness
“Rushing upon the stricken deer and the frantic hunchback, he threw the latter off with furious force, and then, seizing the former’s head with one hand cut the throat savagely with the other.”
- Note the word “savagely” which shows Duror’s change from human to savage
- this links to the idea of turning point as Duror has changed
- Note also the violentword choice.
“Peggy?” he asked. “What’s happened to Peggy?”
- This shows what was actually in Duror’s mind when he slit the deer’s throat.
- The root of the anger is connected to Peggy and deformity
- But when he looks at Calum Duror realises something about himself:
“He understood for the first time why he hated the hunchback so profoundly and yet was so fascinated by him. For many years his life had been stunted, misshapen, obscene and hideous and this misbegotten creature was its personification.”
- This is Duror’s insight (useful for Higher questions on characters who experience insight)
- Calum's outward appearance is like Duror’s inward appearance.
This unsettles Duror as it provokes him to madness with fatal consequences. The killing of the Deer also foreshadows the conclusion of the novel when a further violent incident will take place.
However, although Calum’s role in the Deer Drive is in one way effective – his behaviour offends LRC and spoils her plan to give her brother a pleasurable shoot before he returns to War thus causing her offence, she defers to Duror and agrees that they can stay as long as they do not bother her. This will link to the later scene at the Beach Hut when cause her further offence.
- Be clear about what led up to the Deer Drive
- What happened during the Deer Deer
- And the consequences which follow
You will need to know this for questions on turning points
Chapter 7 – Duror’s unreasonable madness is further exposed
In this chapter the macrocosm (WW2) touches the microcosm (Lendrick).
The main development here is the respect shown towards the cone gatherers: shopkeepers, policemen and in the café. This forms a contrast to the lack of respect shown towards TCG by LRC and Duror. The author’s purpose is to develop the reader’s sympathy towards Calum and Neil and to make the events which follow all the more unreasonable and cruel.
Chapter 8: The theme of social conflict
- The themes of innocence and social conflict are revisited in the scene with Roderick and the car.
“He did not see things or people as a baronet’s heir should” (p.91)
(links with Roderick and Calum are being made)
“We carried dogs in the car”
Roderick’s innocence is shown in the way that he has not grasped the differences between social classes. The incident with the car foreshadows a larger social conflict later when Roderick will believe again that his mother acts unreasonably towards the cone gatherers.
- Note again LRC’s need to defer to Duror (her flaw).
“Ought I to offer these people a lift” – note how LRC distances herself
2. Duror’s appointment with Dr Matheson
- As a consequence of the scene at the Deer Drive Duror has a doctor’s appointment .The theme of internal conflict is revisited in the scene with Duror and Dr Matheson. Duror gets a diagnosis of the roots of his illness. Dr Matheson continues to be the reliable witness so his conclusion is right: This is the reason for Duror’s madness:
“Since your wife’s illness you have never had relations with her?”
“Therefore you have lived like a monk ever since. This has set up stresses and now it is affecting you physically.” (p.102)
The doctor looks at ways in which Duror can address this problem:
“Other women” (break religious and social rules, and affair was unacceptable in this community)
“Religious acceptance” (have “faith” but Duror does not believe in God)
“Endurance” – this is the doctor’s advice, they drink a toast to it: “Aye, to endurance.” (p.103)
Chapter 9: a second turning point – Duror rejects the Doctor’s advice
Chapter 9 is the second turning point in the novel. It marks the end of hope and the beginning of the end.
Duror rejects the doctor’s advice and goes drinking.
“The result was a revulsion against the doctor’s reiterated philosophy of endurance…” (the doctor’s bag is rejected) (p.104)
Note word choice “revulsion”: a powerful disgust – Duror totally rejects the idea of “endurance” – there is no way he can live with this
“He (Duror) felt in a mood for murder, rape or suicide” (p.104)
This reveals Duror’s true emotional state and foreshadows the end of the novel.
Why murder? – Duror believes that getting rid of the cone gatherer will resolve the terrible feelings inside of him, Calum’s appearance in the wood unsettled him, his removal should settle him down again. Duror will ultimately kill Calum.
Why rape? – this reinforces the root of sexual frustration but this is directed towards Calum, are the lies about Calum masturbating really projections of what Duror himself was doing? Duror will sexually assault something.
Why suicide? – this reinforces Duror as an isolated character. He feels alone in this and has lost the will to live. Duror will kill himself.
Note Duror as an isolated character – this is useful for questions on this. You need to be sure about:
- What led up to the Doctor’s appointment
- What happened during it
- What are the consequences
- The chapter begins with Duror contemplating suicide, but at this point in time he has no means to do it.
- He continues to feel there is no solution – so he goes drinking… alone
- In the pub a soldier tells a joke about a pet ape.
The faux pas (mistake) of the joke brings everybody onto the cone gatherers side
“They are a pair of harmless decent men” (p.109)
all except Duror he is alone/isolated in his hatred of them: “he put down his glass and left” (p.109)
Chapter 10 – continues the characterisation of LRC
Just as Calum’s arrival in Ardmore unsettled Duror and created internal conflict in Duror so too the Cone Gatherers arrival has also created a conflict inside LRC – but this time the conflict is a social one. There are two sides to LRC:
- Her Christian conscience and upbringing inherited from her father a judge (socialist) – which suggests that she should look after the Cone Gatherers in the same way Jesus looked after the poor – the Cone Gatherers are her equals
- Her social standing influenced by her husband Sir Colin Runcie-Cambell (conservative) – which suggests that The Cone Gatherers are her inferiors.
The conflict is exposed and developed through 2 events.
- Chapter 8 and whether or not she should offer the cone gatherers a lift
- Her visit to Peggy in Chapter 10 which she describes as a “duty”
In this chapter there is a symbol of the old order (the class structure of few rich and a high number of working class people)
“These silent aloof giants (the woods) which represented the barren past and the anguished stunted present rather than the green abundant future.”
“barren” – suggesting that the old way of life was now dead and a new order is needed
“anguished stunted present” – society was in pain as the old way is dieing and the new order has not yet grown
“green abundant future” – suggests that the new wood which is to be grown from the seed the cone gatherers are collecting will be better and will bring about a better “abundant” future
Later in this chapter Roderick plans to take the cone gatherers a cake as a peace offering following his mother’s behaviour in not offering them a lift. He is prevented however by the presence of Duror outside of their hut:
“Here at the very hut was the most evil presence of all, and it was visible.” (p.118)
“Why then did he hate the cone gatherers and wish to drive them away? Was it because they represented goodness and himself evil?”
Thus the characterisation of Duror is developed to the stage where Duror is not simply influenced by evil, he has been overcome by it, and is evil personified.
Chapters 11 and 12 – The Beach Hut.
The Beach Hut scene is crucial to our understanding of the novel. Having offended LRC at the Deer Drive and having promised to keep out of her way circumstances and the need for survival force the cone gatherers to take shelter in the Beach Hut during the most ferocious storm of all. This begins the process of the final casting out of Calum and Neil from the wood: their sin is to break a social convention and the instruction not to bother LRC, it is ultimately because of class division that they are ordered to leave.
“…they were in a good position to watch the approach of the storm.”
Storm is the use of pathetic fallacy to add a dangerous atmosphere to the story and to foreshadow another storm in the chapter.
“Sometimes we’ve got to choose between two things, neither of them to our liking.” (Neil speaking to Calum, p.125) – this reflects the debate Neil has with Calum whether sheltering in the Beach Hut was necessary. If the storm got into Neil’s rheumatism he could perish and there would be no one to look after Calum. Neil feels that they have a right to shelter.
Inside the Beach Hut they find some discarded toys:
“… it was a small wooden doll, naked, with a comical red cheeked face; one leg was missing. Calum held it tenderly.” (p.127)
A symbol of innocence
- The doll symbolises how Calum feels about himself.
- The nakedness of the doll reminds us of the accusations against Calum.
- The doll foreshadows a reappearance later in the story.
LRC’s appearance in this scene is described like this:
“The door was flung open to the accompaniment of the loudest peal of thunder since the start of the storm.” (p.128)
- The pathetic fallacy adds mood.
- “loudest peal” tells us that this is an event of the greatest importance – the storm is at its highest
- Real storm in the chapter is between LRC and the Cone Gatherers, they offended her previously (The Deer Drive) now they do so again. She does not let them stay (as her Christian conscience would have allowed) she forces them out into the dreadful weather – her social upbringing leads her to take a decision which removes sympathy from her and places it on the cone gatherers.
Chapter 13 – The symbol of the Doll is continued – all innocence is lost
The key event in this chapter is the phone call between Mrs. Lochie and LRC.
“Aye he was always clean-mouthed, I’ll say that for him. But this morning he came in with a doll.” (p.147) The doll is a device which shows outwardly the change of in Duror which has happened inwardly. The doll (innocence) in his hands is ruined (raped). When speaking about he speaks in foul terms about “seed” suggesting that Calum has masturbated over the doll where the reader knows (dramatic irony) that it was, in fact, Duror. Thus innocence has been lost and the characters spiral down to their inevitable fates.
- This doll is used as a device to develop the story and the characters.
Chapter 14 – Duror’s second appointment with LRC and the revelations about the doll
- Note the beautiful setting at the start of the chapter: “Of all the bonny corners in the wood, this was the bonniest” (p.149)
This is the place where Neil and Calum are at their happiest. It is therefore ironic that the most dreadful conclusion of the book will happen at the most beautiful place. The use of contrast brings out the horror of the end of the book. The use of the colloquial “bonny” adds to the friendliness and attractiveness of the location.
- “So small a place as Ardmore should represent so universal a humanity” – This suggests that the writer is making the point that he has brought into this small location all of the great issues which affect mankind and that Good and Evil can be found in this place (microcosm and macrocosm)
- The doll is used as the device to bring matters to a climax –it demonstrates that Duror’s madness is reaching its climax and it offers LRC’s the reason she has been looking for to get the cone gatherers out of ‘her’ wood.
“In Duror’s repetitious incoherence the word seed kept recurring” (p.158) suggests semen and that Duror was accusing Calum of masturbating over the doll.
For a second time (the first was the Doctor’s appointment) the roots of Duror’s madness are considered. This time Tulloch and LRC explore the roots of Duror’s madness: “Why had Duror taken a spite against Calum?” (p.159)
- “It could be the whole raw disgust of the deformed man” (p.159)
- “It could be that Duror resented their intrusion into the wood” (p.159)
- “It could be the dislike was simply inexplicable” (p.159)
- “Is he not an unhappy man?” (p.160)
- “Have your ever seen her, Mr Tulloch?” (p.160) referring to Peggy.
The answer, of course, is that it’s a combination of these but notice the clear references to disgust at deformity and sexual frustration with a grossly obese and deformed wife.
Chapter 15 – Roderick becomes a cone gatherer
“It is one of the very big trees at the end of the park; a silver fir” (p.163) Roderick chooses the climb a tree which is symbolic of the huge barrier between classes. He wishes to join the cone gatherers and pick cones – he aligns himself with the “green abundant future” of the new wood, not the barren past or the anguished present. However he also wants the cone gatherers to get back in favour with LRC, he hopes that if they help him she will let them stay.
- He’s making a statement about the social barrier – he’s going to climb it.
- He wants to become a cone gatherer
- When in danger only the cone gatherers can rescue him, this he hopes will restore them to favour with his mother
“It’s a bag. I think he was meaning to collect the cones. Like those men from Ardmore”.
Note how the title of the novel draws attention to the climax of the novel – it’s here that suspense it at its highest – will there be a safe rescue?
Chapter 16 – The Conclusion
- Comic scenes of Erchie Graham going to ask the cone gatherers for help brings out the tragedy at the end through contrast.
- Neil refuses to help, he wants LRC to come and ask. “If she wants our help, let her come and ask for it.” “We could have perished in the storm, for all she cared. Was that not murder?”
- Graham then encounters Duror. He tells Duror about his failure to get the cone gatherers to help. Unbeknown to him this gives Duror his final motivation for killing Calum – they have caused offence to the lady he has secretly admired from afar.
“Duror was stalking away towards the point.” “It was as if the rotting tree itself had moved.” This final reference to the metaphor of the tree shows the final outcomes of Duror’s corruption – we have moved from rape onto murder and ultimately to his suicide. The word choice “stalking” suggests his deliberate planning, actions and choice.
- LRC runs to the point – she is concerned that Duror has a gun (foreshadowed by the gun shot cracking at the start of the novel and the gun lying against the doctor’s bag).
- She arrives in time to hear a shot “She saw Duror before she saw them. He was walking away among the pine trees with such infinite desolation in his every step that it was the memory of him rather than of the little hunchback dangling from the tree, or that of his brother climbing so frenziedly into it which was to torment her sleep for months.”
- Duror commits suicide: “Somewhere on her beloved promontory Duror, with his face shattered and bloody, lay dead.” In a few moments Duror discovers that killing Calum does not settle him, he remains totally corrupted, and in a moment of self realisation decides to end it all.
After Calum is killed and Duror dies things begin to fix:
- Roderick is safely brought down.
- LRC finally realises what Calum represented and with his blood dripping down on her “She could not pray, but she could weep; and as she wept pity and purified hope and joy welled up in her heart” Thus Calum’s death brings about a good outcome as evil is replaced with the hope that having been freed from the presence of a great evil (Duror) a new wood (a new society) can be planted and that the old barren ways will be replaced by a new future.
Themes in “The Cone Gatherers” – useful when tackling a question on themes
1. Innocence – Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the innocent suffer?
2. Conflict between good and evil – the book explores the roots or causes of evil in human nature.
3. Social conflict – the book explores class structure
4. Responsibility – Who was responsible for Calum’s death?
And ultimately a world ravaged by war is healed through the sacrificice of innocents. Surely their deaths must be used to purify our world of evil and bring hope ...