Gideon's character

Gideon Mack is the novel’s protagonist. He is a Church of Scotland minister who does not believe in God.

A key part of understanding his character is through his meeting with the Devil. Whether the Devil is real, or an aspect of Gideon's own character, is uncertain.

Gideon Mack and the Devil standing in the cave at the Black Jaws. Gideon Mack’s character attributes: emotionless, dishonest and religious doubt. The Devil: king,  menacing and short-tempered.

There are two main sources of information relating to the character of Gideon Mack:

  • Gideon’s own manuscript
  • Harry Caithness’s report detailing the opinions of those who knew him best

Caithness’ report

The report reflects the public face of Gideon. We get the impression that Gideon was generally seen as being an honest, genuine and decent person in Monimaskit.

However, his story about meeting the Devil is widely perceived to be the fantasy of a man who had either gone insane or suffered a nervous breakdown due to his accident at the Black Jaws gorge. Some think that the shock and trauma of what he went through left him permanently scarred.

Gideon’s manuscript

Importantly, Gideon wrote his manuscript in the months following his accident. Therefore, if he was mentally ill or suffering from trauma at the time then its accuracy and reliability may be questionable.

However, we do discover valuable information about Gideon’s life, his development as a person, his character traits and his reaction to the recent events that had such a profound impact on him

quote
If this story of mine reaches further afield, perhaps others will recognise the truth of it."