The Impact of War
From start to finish the presence of war pervades the action of the novel. The opening passage of the novel paints an idylic picture of the estate which is undermined by references to a ‘destroyer’ in the loch, planes ‘roaring louder than waterfalls’ and moving ‘swifter than hawks’ (a bird of prey). References to ‘gunshots cracking’ which puncture the silence also add to the atmosphere. War threatens the previous peace and order of the estate and its inhabitants. We are reminded once again of its presence at the end of the novel when another ‘warship steams down the loch’ following Calum’s tragic death. Early on Calum seems to have a premonition which arises out of his awareness of the war but which also seems to hint at what is to come when he says ‘Sometimes I think it must be the war. There seems to be death in the air’.
The Impact of War – The Estate & Characters
Calum can’t understand the war and ignores it; ‘This was the terrifying mystery, why creatures he loved should kill one another. He had been told that all over the world in the war now being fought men, women, and children were being slaughtered in thousands; cities were being burnt down. He could not understand it, and so he tried, with success to forget it.’