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Cal By Bernard Maclaverty Analysis English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1153 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Cal starts his job in a slaughterhouse after he finished school. His father works there too but it makes him nauseous. He quits his job and which disappoints his father because it was one of the few Catholic jobs. After he has lost his job, Cal is too lazy to find a new job so he spends his days laying on his bed while smoking cigarettes. Crilly, an old school friend, asks Cal to drive a car while he is doing robberies for the IRA. One of his jobs is to drive Crilly to Robert Morton’s house, he is a police officer. Crilly kills the man suddenly. The last thing Robert says is: ‘Marcella!’, she is his wife.

After this incident hostile letters are send to Cal’s house, in which Protestants threaten to burn down their house. Cal acts unaffected but he and his father know it will happen one day and they take measures.

In this period, Cal often goes to the library. One day he finds out there is a new employee, Marcella. He starts to see her more frequently and he finds out that she is a Catholic too and that she has a daughter named Lucy. He falls in love and he follows her around without her knowing. After he helped her with her groceries once, they talk once in a while.

Cal’s father finds some work for Cal, he gets some trees so Cal can chop the wood. Cal sells the wood to the Morton family and he hopes to see Marcella. Mrs Morton offers him a job at the same farm Marcella lives on. He accepts the offer so he can be near Marcella.

Cal’s house burned down, which depressed Cal’s father. Cal decides not to move in with his father in a new place because it could be unsafe.

Cal starts to feels guilty about the murder because of Marcella and he doesn’t want to drive for the IRA anymore. But he knows he can’t quit because they will see him as a traitor and kill him, so he hides in a small hut owned by Marcella’s family. At first they don’t know he lives there, so there isn’t any water or light. He becomes very filthy. Until Marcella’s family finds out there is someone living in their hut. They think it’s an intruder so they call the military. Then they find out it is Cal who lives there, so an offer is made to him. He can stay if he renovates the place, or the military will tear it down because of its state. Marcella gives Cal some of her husband’s clothes and they improve the hut a little. They speak more often now and their relationship gets better.  She isn’t happy with living with her parents-in-law and her relationship with her husband wasn’t very good when he died. In the meantime Cal falls deeper in love with her and he feels very guilty about her husband’s death.

When the Mortons are away for a week, they are together a lot. After a dinner, he kisses her which confuses her because she did not know he was in love with her. But later that week she comes to the cottage and they have sex.

In the meanwhile Cal’s father is getting worse. He is very depressed and looks very old. Cal can’t visit him more often because of the IRA. The next time he wants to visit him, his father has been put into treatment. When he leaves and goes to the library he bumps into Crilly. Crilly says the IRA is going to blow up the library. Crilly just placed a bomb in a book and then he takes Cal to his boss. They are angry at him but they are also nice to him, which gives Cal a strange feeling. All of a sudden there is a knock on the door, it is the police. Cal is lucky and escapes. In a telephone booth he tells the police about the bomb.

Then he goes to Marcella with the feeling it’s going to be the last time because Crilly gave Cal’s name to the police. They have sex again. The next morning the police arrests him, which relieves Cal.


The main character is Cal McCluskey, a 19-year-old catholic boy. His mom died when he was 8 and he lives with his dad. At first he is very depending on his father, but later on he gets more independent. He has a sick obsession for a woman, Marcella.

Marcella is a woman of + 28 years old. She was married to the murdered police officer. She is semi-Italian.

Shamie is Cal’s father. He is depressed at the end but before that he loved to work.

The story is set in Northern Ireland. Mostly in and around Cal’s house and Marcella’s house.

It takes place during the 80’s. Ireland is in the civil war and that was in the 80’s. The story itself is about 6 months long, it starts in the autumn and it and around Christmas. The story is not told chronologically because the author uses flashbacks. There are flashbacks about the murder on Marcella’s husband.

The author tells the story and it is written from a god like perspective. As he knows exactly what people think and what happened.

The title is the name of the main character.

I think that the author want you to realize that all the things you do have consequences and that you should think about them before you are going to do what you wanted to do.

Leesbeleving en evaluatie

Write a personal evaluation of your book in which you answer the following questions (explain all your answers in detail):

I liked to read the book, it wasn’t too long and there was a good tension throughout the story.

Yes, I think they would like it.

“Why don’t you give me everything to me and I’ll do it in the machine.”


“Why not? Do you not think I’m a woman of the world?”

“They’re…” he paused, looking for the right word. “They wouldn’t pass the test.”

“What do you mean?”

“This guy I know made up a test. If you throw your drawers at the wall and they slide down – they’ll do you another day. If stick you need clean ones.”

This part show that Marcella and Cal also have a mental connection.

Cal’s escape before the end of the story, because the end isn’t very important after that.

Achtergrond informatie en bronnen

Alleen wanneer je docent dit heeft opgegeven (havo 4, vwo 4, vwo 6),

of wanneer je voor je mondeling extra punten wilt verdienen (havo 5 en vwo 5).

Lever je achtergrond informatie op papier in bij je docent.

Where did you find your background information? (School, library, internet: not merely from Wikipedia, not just biographies. The background information should consist of several articles from different sources.)

Discuss the content of the review in your own words. Do you agree or disagree with what the critic says?

Finally, roughly how much time did you spend reading the book?



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