The Cone Gatherers
"The Cone Gatherers" is a novel written by Robin Jenkins. The novel is set on a country estate in Scotland, during World War II and features two brothers, Calum and Neil, who collect cones for the war effort. The kind hearted Calum is disabled in mind and body and relies on his brother to care for him. Whilst on the estate, they encounter the gamekeeper, Duror, a handsome, seemingly stoic character, who takes an instant hatred to Calum. Throughout the novel, it dawns on Duror that he and Calum are not as different as he first anticipated. He sees himself in Calum. Before even realising this, he tries to get rid of the brothers by persuading Lady Runcie-Campbell who is head of the estate where the brothers work - that Calum is evil and dangerous. Eventually, Duror sees no other option other than to kill Calum. In doing so, there is a significant message in the novel that good cannot exist without evil, and possibly, that evil truly exists in us all; this is confirmed when Duror takes his own life after killing Calum. Throughout the novel, the author effectively develops the theme of good and evil.
The theme is initially introduced by Calum and is emphasised through the goodness in him, and throughout his symbolic links to Christ. The narrator describes how at the start of the novel his "sunburnt face was alert and beautiful with trust." Calum is a deformed hunchback with a beautiful face; his good nature and trustfulness shines through allowing us to see his true beauty: he oozes purity and innocence. Although he is an adult, he has the mentality of a child, and only sees good in others: "And i ken that too, though you're simple, you're better than any of them. Is to be always happy a crime? Is it daft never to be angry or jealous or full of spite? You're better and wiser than any of them." Neil always defends Calum as he knows he is not as wise to the evils in the world. Calum does not judge and is not guilty of prejudice; like Christ,...
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