Symbolism

The killing of the deer

The deer drive incident is a symbolic one. Calum’s identification with the deer portrays him as a victim, bound up with the plight of the hunted.

A deer with large antlers in Highland woodland
Calum attempts to protect the deer

Significantly, Calum is the first to see the deer, which anticipates his connection with it.

His beautiful face reminds us of a deer’s innocence, and the animal’s terror is also Calum’s. When Duror kills it, he seizes its head and savagely cuts its throat, which is the way one would sacrifice a lamb at the altar.

This foreshadows Calum’s death at the hands of Duror and also implies that Calum too is sacrificed.

The doll

Once inside the beach hut, Calum examines the children’s toys and selects one: a small wooden doll, naked, with a comical red-cheeked face; one leg was missing.

Consider, what is symbolic about the doll being broken? It could be argued that it is representative of innocence being destroyed.

It is interesting that Calum likes this doll (he is childlike and he is drawn to innocence). He also wants to mend the toy, revealing his longing to help.

However, here again, Calum is an outsider, as he does not fit into the rules of society, which sees this as stealing.

Later on, Duror uses this against Calum, turning the child’s toy into an obscene symbol as he tries to pollute the adult world with his lies