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Brother Sebastian in the novel Lamb by Bernard Mac Laverty

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Introduction

Lamb In the novel "Lamb" by Bernard Mac Laverty, written in 1976, I cannot but feel sympathetic towards the main character Brother Sebastian (Michael Lamb). I feel that he was a victim of circumstances. He was brought up in a farm in Ballycastle where he was taught by his father to put animals who were suffering out of their misery. In the novel Mac Laverty describes how his father "had pulled chickens necks so fast and expertly that they never felt a thing". To Sebastian Owen Kane was just like an animal with no future and the most humane thing to do was put him out of his misery. Throughout this novel there is a recurring theme of a father and son relationship. The killing was ritualistic as Sebastian's religious beliefs would have meant that he believed that the boy was going to eternal happiness with God in heaven. "It was motivated by love. It would be a pure. Of this he was sure". From the much protected environment with his mother and father on the farm he entered the Irish Christian Brothers the year he was due to leave school which would have been about sixteen. In the Brotherhood he had no real adult life as he was restricted by the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. When the novel opens Sebastian is a wood work teacher in a Home (which is situated in the south of Ireland Galway) for delinquent boys, which was run by a sadistic, cruel Brother called Brother Benedict. The relationship between the two men was hostile as Benedict was an academic snob who looked down on Sebastian for his lack of formal education. ...read more.

Middle

Michael and Owen were checking into the hotel and the receptionist of the hotel was reading a book called "Act of Love" which is a harbinger of what Michael does to Owen, an "Act of Love". Michael also takes the name Abraham which is a symbolic as it is like the bible story of Abraham and Isaac because Abraham attempts to sacrifice his son as an "Act of Love". Michael lays down a few rules for Owen to follow which is again father and son relationship. With Michael's lack of parental skills he does well to speak more firmly to get Owen to know who is boss. We are informed of how Michael spends his money stupidly "Toys, Expensive Hotels and Cigarettes" but once again I don't see this as a bad side of Michael I feel Owen to trust him and make himself a role model for the boy. Owen steals a pen from a shop and gives it to Michael for a gift, this show us that Owen is thankful at this point of his life and wanted to show thanks. Michael shouts at Owen for stealing and Owen cries again this shows us that Owen now trust Michael and has feelings as this was the first time Michael had seen the boy cry. When he hugs Michael to apologise this completely showed us the trust he had for Michael and the Father and Son theme again registers its presence in the novel again. Bernard McLaverty uses the flash back technique to remind us, of which way the boy had lived and why Michael had justification for taking him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Again making the boy happy and granting him his wishes. Suddenly the use of the weather comes back into the picture when the sky darkens and lighting starts to strike. This is the first time horrendous weather has been brought into the novel this clearly indicated that the biggest event of the novel was going to happen. The author makes the ending very quick and brutally disturbing. He uses techniques in his writing to make the reader feel horror and emotion. "In his gripping fingers he could feel the throb of the boy's life and he gritted his teeth, willing himself to complete what he had started." At the end of this novel I was in shock. I did not believe that a Brother would take the life from a young boy. I like the way the author created suspense. The violent /disturbing ending to this book from my own opinion was unique and works well. Although I do wish we found out what had happened to Michael. My conclusion is that I do sympathise with Michael and in my opinion the loss of his father did not put him into the right frame of mind. He also wanted the best for Owen and believed that he could have made it work between them and for them, which in the end floundered because of his inexperience with the real world. I believe that the killing was an "act of Love" and that Michael granted him the wishes as Owen had wished for them, he then tried to kill him when he was in a fit as he believed that Owen would leave the world in the best possible way at that point and time of his life. ?? ?? ?? ?? English | Lamb Michael Kennedy Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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