(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The Borg farm, something of a refuge for anyone who needs help, is the home of rlygur the Rich, an energetic and compassionate Icelandic farmer sometimes spoken of as “the King” because of the vast number of servants he retains and the hundreds of cattle, horses, and sheep he owns. rlygur hopes that one of his sons, either Ormarr or Ketill, will become the master of Borg. Ormarr, however, is interested in playing the violin, and Ketill decides to become a priest.

The two brothers represent extremes of character. Ormarr is sensitive, intelligent, perceptive, creative, and honest, while Ketill is devious, jealous, destructive, blasphemous, and dishonest. Ormarr unselfishly marries Runa, daughter of a poor farmer. Once Ketill, who is secretly eager to seize control of the property at Borg, becomes the parish priest, he preaches a series of sermons that incrementally encourage the peasants to believe that a great sin has been committed by one of the community leaders. Finally, Ketill charges his own father with being the father of a child born to Runa, the daughter of a poor farmer, Pall à Seyru. The charge is coupled with the suggestion that rlygur also had persuaded Ormarr to marry Runa in order to hide his crime of lust. The depth of Ketill’s depravity finally becomes evident to the citizens of the community when rlygur, with convincing simplicity and wrath, reveals that the priest who is condemning his own father is himself the father of Runa’s...

(The entire section is 492 words.)