The Devil

Robertson’s depiction of the Devil is not stereotypical: he is not described as being the demonic embodiment of evil, malevolence and cruelty that the Bible portrays him to be.

Gideon states that he is absurdly well-dressed and immaculate in a black suit, and that he looks and behaves like a normal man. Furthermore, instead of living in opulent splendour he lives a very basic existence in a cave near the Black Jaws.

The Devil seems a mix of the extraordinary and the ordinary. He is very well dressed but his trainers are a mess. He lives in a cave yet it is kitted out with basic furnishings. He has the power to heal but it doesn't quite work perfectly.

It could be argued that the Devil seems like a powerful character who has fallen on hard times. This could reflect a Scotland that has drifted away from belief if God and the Devil.

This is reflected by the stone. The Devil claims to have put it there because I have to do something to keep myself amused. He goes on to explain its lack of impact:

quote
But by and large it's been something of a failure. You're the only person who's noticed it

This suggests that it is only through an act of belief that the stone can be seen.

Kind

The Devil is kind and gentle to Gideon:

  • he takes care of him after his accident
  • nurses him back to health by giving him medicine
  • feeds him
  • keeps him warm
  • treats his broken leg

Gideon describes him as being quiet and calm and softly spoken but also immensely strong.

Menacing and short-tempered

Gideon does reveal that there may be a darker side to the Devil. He can be quick to anger and seems threatening and menacing at times. He is also impatient and easily frustrated with Gideon’s questions and he becomes sulky and moody.

The Devil’s sudden mood swings mean that at times Gideon feels relaxed and comfortable in his company but, at others, he feels afraid of him and that he might be in danger from a madman who doesn’t seem to be human and is actually a deranged cave-dwelling monster.

Over the course of the three days in the cave, they have long conversations and debates. Gideon finds out that the Devil knows his secrets and intimate details about his life. He discovers that the Devil knew his father, and that he had put the standing stone in Keldo Woods.

Part of Gideon

If the Devil is not a genuinely supernatural being, he could be seen as part of Gideon's own imagination and personality. In this case the Devil might represent the core of Gideon's character that wants to escape his deceitful nature. The Devil may be the honest Gideon who isn't trying to please other people or live up to his father's expectations.