CAL and shamie Theme of love

Brief synopsis
‘’Cal’’ by Bernard Maclaverty is a novel which
focuses on the relationship between a young man
Cal and a woman called Marcella, during the
course of this novel, his obsessive love is very
evident. There is a lot violence caused by the IRA
and UVF which Cal gets caught up in. Cal and
Shamie’s relationship is based around the
situation and they are not very welcome in their
community. Cal’s forced inconvenient with Crilly
and Skeffington ultimately leads to him getting
Determined to get her
Deeply in love with
No shoulder to cry on
Because of
what he was
involved in
When he was 8
His mum was a strong
He is also sexually
and mentally
Shamie is still affected
by the death of his
Cal takes a lot of
Cal is more
of a parent
Tries to carry on the
tradition- goes to mass
Prays for his mum- it
shows his love
Always look out for each
When he goes in the fire
to get the gunsprotection
This shows their love to
one another
He washes the dishes etc
Talks about her a lotfeels uncomfortable
Cal doesn’t want
to be a part of it
Forced into doing things he
doesn’t want to
i.e Marcella's husbands death
They both act like parents
This is because of Crilly and
Skeffington-pressuring & threaten
He fights for
his rights
changes- old,
UVF wants to
burn down his
His other
son died in
a car crash
He wants to be
a good parent
to Cal
Goes to church
every Sunday
Afraid police
will find the
Worries about Cal
over Cal
He is a broken
man by the end
He is stubborn
as he doesn’t
want to move
house unlike
His life is ruined by
the violence and
hatred of Ulster
Wife died
He doesn’t
like Crilly
Works at the
He cries
several times
at Cal’s visit
Turns to guns to solve
Doesn’t like Crilly
Encourages Cal to talk
about his life
Tries to move on with his
life after wife’s death
Willing to use violence
Doesn’t like to involve guns
Both worried
about their safety
Both catholic
Both struggle with
the death of their
Works in the abattoir
Both dislike UVF
Becoming more the child
Both don’t talk
about their
Wants to spend more
time with Cal
Doesn’t follow people
Doesn’t break the law
Likes Crilly
Very reserved talking to
Still talks about his mother
Doesn’t like violence
Refuses to work in the abattoir
Becoming more the parent
Sexually confused (towards
Inner turmoil
Both depressed
Goes along with what others
do with violence
Willing to break the law
Possible Question & Introduction
Choose a novel or a short a short story where there is an incident which is a
turning point crucial to the fate of the main character.
Briefly describe what happens at this point and go on to explain why this is
crucial to the fate of this character
‘’Cal’’ by Bernard Maclaverty is a novel set in Northen Ireland during the time of
the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. There is an incident which there is
a turning point crucial to the fate of the main character, Cal. This turning point is
when Cal meets and falls in love with the widow of the man he helped kill,
Marcella in which this adds to his inner turmoil. The theme of love is highlighted
thoroughly in many ways throughout the novel as he tries to cover up his past
because he does not want to lose Marcella which leads to his fate of getting
arrested because he reports a bomb in the library as he loves her and does not
want her to get hurt.
‘’Cal’’ by Bernard Maclaverty, the incident which changes Cal’s fate is when he meets
Marcella, this coming together of people leads to his sad and unlucky ending,
which is when he gets taken away by the police. This novel is about a young man
who finds himself in a bad situation, in Northern Ireland, during the ages of the
IRA and the UVF scandals. He meets a young women called Marcella who he has
more in common than he thinks, which ultimately leads to his tragic fate. His love
for Marcella is highlighted throughout the novel and we also see other sides to Cal,
.ie. Sexually frustrated, confused, etc. we also see that he is in love with Marcella
as he lies to her to be in a relationship, this is also a different side to Cal as he is
trying to cover up his past. Unfortunately his relationship comes to a tragic ending
as he is arrested and this is for his criminal offences.
Both good introductions, the first one is short and straight to the point and the
second goes into depth about the novel which is convenient.
More possible essay questions
Chose a novel or a short story in which you feel there is an incident of great
importance to the story as a whole. Describe the incident and go on to
show its importance to the development of the characters and the central
concerns of the text.
• When Cal and Crilly kill Marcella’s husband
• Cal develops feelings for Marcella and feels more and more guilty
Choose a novel or a short story in which setting in place and/or time is and
important feature. Briefly describe the setting(s) and explain the
importance of this feature to the story.
• Living in Ireland (Catholics living in protestant area)
• Time of conflict (IRA & UVF at war)

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