'The Changeling' - The ending

1330 WordsJul 9, 20186 Pages
The Changeling’ by Robin Jenkins is a powerful and harrowing novel which ends unexpectedly: with the death of its’ central character. This character, Tom Curdie, the titular ‘changeling’, is a brilliantly intelligent and perceptive young boy living in a horrible slum home with a disgusting family who show him no love or genuine affection. As such, Tom has set up a defence mechanism: he refuses to love or show emotion to anyone around him. However, when Tom is taken on holiday by his pompous English teacher, Charles Forbes, he begins to unravel, and starts to love Forbes and his family. When this love is realised to be unrequited, Tom, unable to stop the flow of emotion, takes his own life, which is made all the more surprising when…show more content…
This failure is made clearer to the reader when Gillian runs out of the hut following her discovery of Tom’s hanged body. The first time Gillian sees the lights of Wemyss Bay across the Firth, she feels hopeful and reassured. However, she then sees Tom’s dead body and in horror, runs out to find her father, seeing the lights once more: ‘Again she saw the beam of the lighthouse and the lights of Wemyss Bay, much brighter now that sky and sea and hills were dark; but this time there was no reassurance in their reminder of people at peace at the fireside in their homes.’ This time around, the image of people sitting warm and comfortably in their homes does not offer any comfort to Gillian, as she knows it is something Tom never had, and now can never have. So, instead of the lights being a reassuring beacon of hope, they have forever become a symbol of the abandonment and despair for Gillian, and a reminder of the horrific sight of Tom’s death. This sight also reminds Gillian of her failure to help or save Tom’s life in the hut, which conveys the main themes of the novel, in a literal sense. The characterisation of Tom from a strong, guarded lone-wolf figure to a suicidal wreck in need of love and reassurance from those around him is crucial in illuminating the central themes of the novel to the reader. In earlier chapters of the novel, Tom is portrayed as strong and independent, determined to achieve his goals himself. He lives by the
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