Cal (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Obsession and guilt are the two forces that clash head-on in Bernard MacLaverty’s second novel, Cal. His characters, many of whom have been stripped of their humanity, exemplify the human tragedy of Ireland’s violent history. In Cal, MacLaverty continues to explore the subjects of loneliness, sin, freedom, and responsibility that preoccupied him in his critically acclaimed first novel, Lamb (1980) and his short-story collections Secrets and Other Stories (1977) and A Time to Dance and Other Stories (1982). Conflicts between sin and forgiveness, loyalty and betrayal, crime and punishment, violence and justice, maturity and responsibility permeate his works. In Cal, MacLaverty takes a particular family, and through them depicts the real victims of Ireland’s struggle.
Cal, nineteen years old and unemployed, lives at home with his father; they are the only Catholics in a Protestant neighborhood. As the novel begins, Cal is besieged by guilt for helping in a murder and obsessed with desire for the woman he helped to make a widow. Guilt and desire combine to make Cal a psychological cripple. As his character unfolds in flashbacks, it is clear that he is a passive, sensitive youth, easily intimidated and manipulated by others. Although he is railroaded into rallying behind the Irish Republican Army (IRA), he cannot understand the hatred between Irish Catholics and Protestants. “It was the idea of...
(The entire section is 2166 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Contemporary Review. CCXLII, April, 1983, p. 213.
Hudson Review. XXXVI, Winter, 1983, p. 750.
Library Journal. CVIII, June 15, 1983, p. 1275.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. August 21, 1983, p. 1.
The New Republic. CLXXXIX, September 19, 1983, p. 30.
New Statesman. CV, January 14, 1983, p. 26.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVIII, August 21, 1983, p. 1.
The New Yorker. LIX, October 24, 1983, p. 162.
Newsweek. CII, September 5, 1983, p. 68.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIII, June 17, 1983, p. 62.
(The entire section is 57 words.)