Duror and Lady Runcie-Campbell

Duror and Lady Runcie-Campbell, standing in front of the mansion. He is angry, hating, and scheming. She is upper class, pitying, and Christian


Duror is the estate's gamekeeper and forester who lives with his bedridden obese wife, Peggy. Mrs Lochie, Peggy's mother, also stays in the house to look after her daughter, but cannot stand Duror, constantly accusing him of neglecting his wife and her needs. Duror's domestic situation is miserable.

Having tried to join the army and been rejected because of his age, Duror exists in an unhappy state, with the woods providing his only place of respite - that is, until the cone gatherers arrive. Duror hates the two brothers, especially Calum because he frees animals from the traps Duror has set, and looks after them. While others accept Calum's disabilities, Duror despises him to the extent that he condones the actions of the Nazis in sending 'imperfect' people to their deaths. Duror lies about Calum, implying he is a sexual pervert, and sets him up to appear incompetent during the deer drive.

Bound up in his hatred of Calum is his wife's physical disability, which conjures up images of Calum's own disfigured appearance. Peggy’s ‘wheedling voice’ also reminds Duror of Calum's voice, much to his horror. From an early age, Duror admits he:

...had been repelled by anything living that had an imperfection or deformity or lack: a cat with three legs had roused pity in others, but in him an ungovernable disgust.

Unfortunately, in his warped mind, he truly believes that if he could find a way to get rid of the cone gatherers this might lead to his own liberation. When we realise how disturbed Duror’s mind is, and look at his bleak existence, he can be pitied and seems less of a monster.

However, he reverts to being a figure of evil when he destroys all goodness in the woods by shooting Calum, whose death has echoes of the crucifixion of Christ, in that he is an innocent who dies to cleanse the world. From being a figure of twisted bitterness, Duror becomes like Judas, who betrayed Christ then also committed suicide.

Lady Runcie-Campbell

She is presented as a Christian who has a conscience but this is often disregarded because she believes her aristocratic position makes her opinions and actions superior to the ordinary workers she is surrounded by.

Her father was a judge who believed in a sense of fairness, although he was not a Christian. Her husband, Colin, is away fighting in the war, but he also believes the social ranking order on earth is echoed in the after-life in heaven. Aside from these influences, she unfortunately also seeks the hate-filled Duror's advice concerning the cone gatherers.

If she had known how squalid the accommodation provided for the brothers was, she would have ignored Duror and allowed them to stay in the beach hut, which would have led to less resentment on Neil's part. She only involves the brothers in the deer hunt, again, because she listens to Duror, but she also finds Calum's sensitive behaviour incomprehensible.

Despite allying herself with Duror in agreeing that the brothers should be removed after the disastrous deer hunt, she lets them stay as a result of Tulloch's intervention and her son, Roderick's sympathetic stance. Still, her Christianity does not extend to giving the brothers a lift when she passes them in the car on the way back from Lendrick.

She visits Duror's bedridden and obese wife out of Christian duty, but cannot suffer Peggy's fawning sycophantic behaviour for long.

Lady Runcie-Campbell's Christian goodwill does not stretch to allowing the brothers to shelter in the beach hut, where she finds them during the storm. In a rage, she orders them out into the bad weather, absolving herself with her belief that they are used to such rain, and that her son must remain to be protected from pneumonia.

She believes the brothers have behaved inappropriately and agrees with her husband's view that it is unacceptable for the lower classes to believe they can have similar rights to the upper classes because of the war.

However, at the end of the novel when Roderick cannot get down from a tree he has climbed to try and emulate the cone gatherers he so admires, it is these brothers whom Lady Runcie Campbell turns to for help. Neil refuses, unless she makes the request herself. Duror finds out about this ultimatum and he loses all control and shoots Calum, who is perched up a tree where he is happiest.

Lady Runcie Campbell is the one who finds Calum; she kneels in the dripping blood and fallen cones and weeps with true emotion. One theory is that she has learnt a Christian lesson about being more tolerant of others. Another theory is that she sees Calum not simply as a human being but as a Christ-like symbol, which might explain her tears of joy and hope for humanity at the end of the novel.