The Gathering Text Response Essay, Research Paper
Text Response – Good Vs. Evil
Good vs. evil is a widely explored theme in Isobelle Carmody’s novel ‘The Gathering’. It is most evident in the battle between the Chain and the Kraken, however the more sinister, subtler acts of evil occur when he attempts to make each member vulnerable by breaching their weaknesses. While the physical examples such as the final battle, the murder of The Tod and the violent acts by Buddha and his gang could certainly be classified as evil, it is my belief that the brainwashing of the students and the fanatical powers of illusion Mr. Karle wields are more insidious, swiftly inhabiting and manifesting in the minds of people in a way that is more powerful than any outright acts of violence.
An example of how the evil within Cheshunt and Mr. Karle are influencing residents to commit heinous acts can be found on page 214 when Buddha murders Nathanial’s dog in an attempt to render him susceptible to Mr. Karle’s attempts to manipulate him. The Tod was ruthlessly killed by being doused in kerosene and then set alight. Page 214 reads as follows, “The match landed in his tail and flames swept forward up over him. Devoured him. He arched and coiled, yelping in pain and fright, and then he screamed, a long inhuman howl of agony and terror. For one terrible second, his eyes looked at me from out of the flames, bulging and pleading.” This horrific and terrifying event was interpreted by Nat as punishment due to Lallie’s intervention of the night before when he was being chased by feral dogs. Nathanial’s reaction was one of revulsion and horror as he witnessed the murder by Buddha.
Another example of evil occurs on page 247, when Nathanial recalls his father trying to kill him “‘Children should be seen and not heard’ he said, and his big hand closed around my neck. And squeezed.” This could be evidence that an ancestral streak of violent behavior could also be tainting Nathanial’s blood. Perhaps this is why Mr. Karle struggles to convert Nathanial and attempts to compel him to join The Gathering.
One instance pertaining to the theme of Good Vs Evil in the novel can be found on pages 224 and 225. This part of the novel includes a battle between Nissa and a feral dog; this is a physical battle between good and evil. This excerpt from the novel shows that the Chain do in fact fight a physical battle against the malicious forces of darkness contained in Cheshunt.
An additional case of Good Vs Evil is found on page 257 “‘Kill them all! Kill them all!’ the Kraken shrieked ‘May the Chain prevail long!’ ” This excerpt from the final battle in the novel demonstrates the fact that the Chain must not only fight a physical battle against the dark forces of Cheshunt. They must also use their unity as a weapon against the darkness
This final and convincing example of evil and brutality in the novel occurs on page 120 “they held me down, belted me with their sticks and then they held me while the dog attacked me”. This supports Mrs. Delaney’s maxim on people in positions of power: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The police who had power over normal citizens, became corrupt over time and this is what gave them the capacity to commit violent acts such as this one.
Good Versus Evil is the general theme in this novel, with the members of the Chain endeavoring to defeat the dark forces within Cheshunt. It is an important theme because although the novel is written as a fantasy, it contains realistic settings. All of the examples of good and evil in the book are things that could very possibly happen in our own society, as they are not totally implausible or ‘fantastic’. The importance of this is to convey to the reader that evil exists in our own world, not in the stereotypical way we often see it, as a mystical force, but as the power people wield over others to lead them to do the wrong things.