Major characters

David, Alan and Ebenezer

Ebenezer, David and Alan with a colour-coded key identifying that Ebenezer is a relation and enemy of David, and Alan is a friend. Ebenezer is a lowlander and Alan a highlander. David's adventure takes him on a journey through lowlands and highlands of Scotland


David is an awkward hero in some ways. He often makes poor decisions or acts in an immature way, such as speaking too hastily. He is aware of this, however, and admits that he should be more careful in his approach. His upbringing has been quite sheltered and he knows very little about political issues.

He is, however, determined and tough. These are qualities which Alan recognises in David. He is also always keen to be as straight and honest as he can.

During the novel David develops from a rather naïve boy into a self-reliant and resourceful young man. We see this across a series of events which show his developing maturity, judgement and resolve. There are three main stages to this:

  • Leaving his home in the Borders.
  • His decision to help Alan.
  • His determination to get justice and prove his claim is right against his scheming uncle.

Kidnapped uses a first person narrative, that is to say David tells us the story from his point of view, using 'I'.

This encourages the reader to sympathise with him and see events and people from his point of view. Everything that is seen and heard is filtered through him.

Nevertheless, the reader is also able to see that there are times when David is not behaving sensibly or in his own best interests. For example, when he is marooned on Erraid, David admits his own stupidity. David's dialogue also shows he can be rash or stubborn, such as when he falls out with Alan.

Alan Breck

From the moment they first meet, David identifies Alan as a tough character - someone who is better to have as a friend than as an enemy. He is a skilled swordsman and soldier who is fiercely loyal to his clan and country.

He saves his own life using his strength and quick thinking when his boat is rammed in the dark. He shows his experience and cunning as a soldier in defending the roundhouse when heavily outnumbered by the sailors.

He is vain about his clothes and appearance and proud of his family name, which he demonstrates is more important to him than wealth or any possessions.

Alan ends up clashing with David on a number of occasions. Alan's Highland perspective means that he sometimes sees things differently from David, who has a Lowland point of view. But, despite this, Alan is fiercely loyal as a friend to David and his toughness and ingenuity are vital in their escape and journey back.


David's uncle Ebenezer is a selfish, cowardly, cunning and hypocritical figure.

He is obsessed with keeping David's inheritance and has no heir of his own. His greediness seems compulsive at times. An example of this is when he says he will give David money in pounds but quickly adds ‘Scots’, since the Scots pound was worth only one twelfth of the English one.

Ebenezer is notable because he speaks in Scots all the time, which sets him apart from the other characters.

As a character, Ebenezer illustrates the influence that writers such as Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens had on Robert Louis Stevenson. He follows the pattern of many of their elderly, mean and disobliging characters. But Ebenezer is actually an even more extreme character because he contemplates and plans criminal acts, such as murder and kidnapping.