In the whole book Cal is presented as an honest person but there are always illegal things he does. The first illegal action is that he and Crilly beat up a younger boy in school. As to be seen on page 15 in line 15 Cal is nervous and normally doesn't really want to do it but does it because of his "friend" Crilly. Afterwards he has a guilty conscience because it was two against one younger boy.
Cal is shown as a person who is really decent but because of his friends he is sometimes involved in crimes.
Another example is that Skeffington and Crilly want Cal to be the driver for a crime. Cal says he wants out (page 18, line 5) because of his guilty conscience concerning the cruel thing he did with Crilly: They killed Robert Morton. Cal sees Marcella Morton, his widow, everyday because she works in the library. Cal can't stand it because she reminds him of the event all the time. But Skeffington and Crilly persuade him so that he drives a last time and then wants out.
The reader is confronted with Cal's guilty conscience almost all the time because everywhere Cal goes and everything he does reminds him of the death of Robert Morton and makes him feel guilty. On page 31 in line 2 Cal is in the church and prays. After a while his prayers only consists of " telling him how vile he was" . It seems that Cal wants to undo everything and that he knows that he isn't able to do that. This makes him mad. Another example of this is to be found on page 33, line 11: "But the thing he had done was now a background to his life, permanently there, like the hiss that echoed from the event which began the Universe". Cal wants to shake off his conscience and all the things he did, but he can't. So he tells Crilly another time that he wants out but again Crilly talks him into participating so that Cal is the driver as before. He drives Crilly to Magherafelt where Crilly lifts a shop. Cal doesn't like the whole thing and is really nervous because he is afraid that people get hurt or even get killed (page 53, line 15: " Jesus, I thought you'd killed them.").
Almost a year after the death of Robert Morton Cal remembers every minute of that evening. It seems to hurt him because thinking back of the crime makes it real and brings it back to his mind. Now that he has met Marcella and fell in love with her he thinks about telling her the truth. But as to be seen on page 79 in line 26 ( "..., he knew that, because of what he had done, they could never come together." ) he is afraid that Marcella could hate him. Marcella and Cal spend some time together but although Cal feels guilty he doesn't say a word about what he did.
One day they pick blackberries together and talk about bad things they did in the past. Marcella tells him about a boy she should have had a date with but whom she stood up. Then she asks Cal whether he has ever done anything really bad ( page 105, line 17) but Cal does't tell her about it. He only mentions that he beat up a younger boy.
It seems that Cal tries to start a new life for Marcella because when meeting Crilly in the library, Cal tells him that he wants out and although Crilly tries to persuade him, Cal says that he is not interested any more (page 128, line 4) and that he " feels bad about what he was doing" and that "it was against his conscience" (page 130, line 32). Cal goes back to Marcella and wants to tell her everything (page 134, line 7 to line 10) but he doesn't. They make love and Cal feels guilty again as Marcella falls asleep beside him (page 135, line 20). He feels worse because she shows trust although she doesn't know what Cal has done to her husband. Cal thinks of writing Marcella to explain her everything but he hasn't got the chance to do that because on Christmas Eve he is arrested by the police.
Cal's guilty conscience wasn't able to win against him in spite of the fact that it seemed to make him mad.
by Dörthe Kulke
back to top of page
© EN21L Gymnasium Ulricianum Aurich - Stand: 24-05-98