Cruel Nature of Caleb Gare
Cruel nature of Caleb gare Wild Geese is a novel written by Martha Ostenso. The motive of paternal dominance and tyranny imposed by Caleb Gare is clearly felt throughout the whole novel. He is driven by his desire to get more land and therefore more money. Therefore he does not only tyrannize his family, but also his neighbours. Devoting all his life to Just one materialistic goal, to acquire as much land as possible, Caleb uses his possessions to show his power and therefore possessions become his highest value. Caleb felt a glow of satisfaction as he stood there on the ridge peering out over his and until the last light had gone. He could hold all this, and more – add to it year after year – add to his herd of pure-bred Holsteins and his drove of horses – raise more sheep – experiment with turkey and goose for the winter markets in the south – all this as long as he held the whip hand over Amelia. “(Martha Ostenso 19) In this passage is shown his obsession with his farm, and a strong desire to obtain as much as possible.
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He forgets about the real values of life and becomes selfish and arrogant man. He is described as a monster without feelings. His Ruthless behaviour towards amily and neighbours is the reason why the whole community hates him and at the same time is afraid of him. His indifference towards what people think about him is clearly shown in the following passage: “Day in and day out, not a soul came to the Gare farm, not a soul left it, not even to visit the Sandbos, two miles or less away.
And Caleb went about with the fixed, unreadable face of an old satyr, superficially indifferent to what went on, unconscious of those about him, underneath, holding taut the reins of power, alert, Jealous of every gesture in the life within which he moved and governed. ” (Martha Ostenso 34). An example of Caleb’s cruel and ruthless behaviour against his neighbours can be seen when he forces his son Martin to go fishing to the Bjarnasson’s lake. Martin meets Erik Bjarnasson with whom he talks about the fact that their lake is not yet open for fishing.
Then Erik invites him to the house for coffee but Martin refuses. The hospitality of Eric shamed him very much. After this chat he decides not to obey the instructions which Caleb gave him and goes back home. “Martin did not take the lake road. He thought with self-scathing of his original plan in coming here – to slip down below the willows and around the end of the cove where he would not be seen by the Bjarnassons. Such had been Caleb’s instructions – given in full belief that they would be obeyed. He would have to tell his father the truth when he arrived home.
Caleb would be in a towering rage, which would express itself in a gentle sarcasm and later in a strange and sinisterly effective abuse of Amelia, that Martin never understood. ” (Martha Ostenso 125) When Caleb returned home and found out that Martin did not bring any fish, he had a little quarrel with Martin, after which he went out to his flax field and speculated how to ompel Martin to fish. After some time he visits his neighbour Thorvald Thorvaldson, because he has always wanted to get part of his land. When he enters the house, he sees that they had fish for dinner.
This makes him happy because the only place where Thorvald could get this fish is the Bjarnasson’s lake. And he knows that Bjarnasson’s help during the haying. “Fishing in his lake would not be readily forgiven, especially if the offender were trusted and indebted friend. It would surely mean an end to favours, and loans… ” (Martha Ostenso 146) Caleb obtains reason to blackmails Thorvald. He offers Thorvald his silence and cash and Thorvald would have to give him a piece of his land. This scene was rather funny but at the same time dark and tense because it expressed treacherousness of Caleb. Thorvald’s eyes grew sullen. Caleb Gare was getting him then. “Na-ow! Not von acre! ” he rasped. Caleb shrugged his shoulders and turned to go. “All right, but don’t blame me if Bjarnasson don’t come across with the crew,” he said. Thorvaldson strode quickly into step with him as he walked toward the cart. Better than to lose Bjarnasson’s support…. “Vhen you vant it? ” He almost snivelled. (Martha Ostenso 148) It is obvious that everybody hates Caleb but they are too good-natured and naive to stop his quiet building of his influence. Caleb Gare controls his family with cruelty and hard physical labour.
He forces his children to work all day on the farm. As his farm grows, there is more and more work to be done, but he has only his wife Amelia and four children to work there. He does not want to pay for extra workers because he sees in his family as free workers. “Caleb must have had some other reason for not taking on extra help. It was his idea, apparently, to blind them all with work – an extra man ould give them time for thinking, and dreaming. ” (Martha Ostenso 142) Although he has money, he does not want to pay for extra workers because he is simply too greedy.
He does not even bother to buy his daughter Ellen new glasses. “Ellen worked with difficulty because of her eyes, and frequently had to close them to ease their smarting. The hay dust bit at her lids so that they became bright red” (Martha Ostenso 142). When he sees that Ellen does not work as fast and as perfectly as her siblings, he Just states that she has day-dreaming, and sends her to go over the hole strip again. That he sees her red eyes and does not have mercy upon her is an evidence of his cruel insensibility towards his family. The worst aspect of Caleb was the terror he imposed on his wife, Amelia.
He holds her at bay because he knows about her illegitimate child which she had before married him. “For Caleb, although he had known of Amelia’s moral defection before he married her, had always looked upon himself as the betrayed and cheated victim in a triangle. It was perhaps this which prevented him from ever feeling pands of remorse for his acts. His sensibilities ere crystallized in the belief that life had done him an eternal wrong, which no deed of his own could over-avenge. ” (Martha Ostenso 102) This passage shows why Caleb became such a merciless, wicked devil.
The situation gets worse because this illegitimate child, Mark Jordan, arrives to the neighbourhood and falls in love with Lind Archer, the teacher who lives at the Gares. Amelia is afraid that Mark will find out that he is son of poor woman who married a farmer. Caleb knows exactly that Amelia does not want this secret to be revealed. If it was revealed, her family would have lost a good reputation. It was felt from the novel that at that times a good reputation of family was very important in the neighbourhood for the marriage.
Amelia wanted her children to be happy and to marry someone and therefore she had to obey Caleb. “Caleb thoughts turned to Amelia. She had behaved well of late. Perhaps she was even beginning to realize that no good would come of it if the to keep her reminded of that little mistake od hers – that little mistake… Also, it might be well to pay a visit to the young man, before the return of the Klovaczs. To sound him out, as it were, and to report to Amelia on his parts as a gentleman. Good idea, that. Amelia would break her heart rather than let a gentleman know the truth about himself.
He might not even want to marry the Teacher if he knew that he had no name to offer her. “(Martha Ostenso 145) Considering all of this, Amelia was forced to be cruel and to hold strong hand over her children to prevent any rebellion. He did not want his children to leave his farm because he would have to pay extra money for workers. And that is why he blackmailed Amelia with the secret of Mark Jordan. One night Amelia told him that Sven Sandbo wants to marry Judith, his most hardworking aughter. A dispute followed after that. Judith heard parts of it. “Caleb began to enjoy the situation. fou think do you? Hah! Scared Bart might tell the truth, eh? Rather have Sven taken in, eh? Have him think he’s marryin’ into fine stuff? ” mfou know – you know nobody around here would marry the girls – if – if they knew. ” “No,” he agreed softly, “the people around here are careful of their morals. But that’s no reason why you should take advantage of them. Wouldn’t it be better to wait and find out what Jude is going to be before you turn her over to an honest man? ” Amelia sprang to her eet, her face white. “IVe had enough from you, you hypocrite! ” she said, her voice breaking. It isn’t Jude you’re thinking of. It’s your filthy greed – and the work you can get out of her. If you even told the truth – I might – I might respect your bullying. But this – this I won’t bear it – you – you sneak! “(Martha Ostenso 99) The following passage shows Caleb’s psychical pressure that he used against Amalia in this quarrel. “Caleb laughed under his breath. He spoke now almost in a whisper, as he always did when frenzy had its way with him. “Getting independent suddenly, are ou? Mark Jordan isn’t so far away but what I could reach him tonight, before I go to bed. Amelia shook her head, her lips moved silently. If she did not end the scene the children would know that something was happening below. Lind would hear. Caleb looked at her. She was a poor thing, after all, scarcely worth the trouble. “(Martha Ostenso 100) As you can see, every time the children or Amelia make any extraordinary thing, Caleb threatens that he will tell Amelia’s secret to Mark. Children suspect that there is some secret and they are convinced that it is somehow related ith them. They are Just commiserate with their mother’s fate.
They know how revengeful their father is when the invisible line of his patience is crossed and therefore they live in submission hoping that the mysterious secret would never be revealed. Caleb’s daughter Judith is the only one who dares to rebel against him. Lind Archer compared her to a wild horse. “Judith is a beautiful creature. She’s like a – a wild horse, more than anything I know of. But Caleb doesn’t give her a moment to herself even to think in. “(Martha Ostenso 65) Caleb wants to keep Judith home under is control as long as possible because she is most useful to him in the farm.
Judith’s nature is very wild and she knows that she needs to get away from this household and have her own life. She is in love with Sven Sandbo. She meets him secretly but then Caleb finds out that she is meeting him because he spied on her. “He crept along slowly, taking care not to step on dry branches. As the light fell he could make out low voices that seemed to come from a hollow. Now he could look down and see pool. “(Martha Ostenso 165) What happened later on between Judith and Caleb in the barn is described in the following passage. She saw his face, like a mask cut out of granite.
He had seen them – she knew it instantly. Somehow he had discovered – spied on them. He stepped into the barn. Judith was dumb…. ‘What ‘er you up to, out there in the bush, eh? With what Sandbo dog, heh, heh! A bitch like your mother, eh? Come here and I’ll show ye it pays to be decent! ” He took another step toward her. Judith’s hand swept down and grasped the handle of the ax. She straightened like a flash and flung it with all her strength at Caleb’s head. Her eyes closed dizzily, and when she opened them again he was crouching before her, his hand moving across is moustache.
The ax was buried in the rotten wall behind his head. “(Martha Ostenso 166) After this accident he gains control over Judith. He locked the barn with the ax buried in the wall, because it is a proof that she tried to kill him. This situation was very welcome to him because it strengthened his influence over Amelia and the whole family. “The case of Judith had been fortunate rather than otherwise. At first it had been a bit disturbing. The ax might have done more than graze his hair. As it was, the incident merely gave him greater control over affairs. It was another thing to old over Amelia.
And it gave him security in regard to Judith – it was a case for the police if he wished to make it one. “(Martha Ostenso, 171) This way he somehow broke the wild spirit of Judith. Caleb stole her beliefs and dreams of a better and happier life. She becomes lifeless creature that only obeys orders. “It won’t do any good,” Judith muttered. “If I see Sven he’ll find out and then he’ll send me to the city. I know nothing good ever happens. “(Martha Ostenso 173) She becomes lifeless creature that only obeys orders. Only thanks to Lind she took a chance to flee from her “prison”.
This happens during the harvest Jubilee in Latt’s school, that was to take form of a masquerade. Even though Caleb finds out that she fled, he does not run after her to bring her back. Instead of that he has a terrible quarrel with Amelia. But this quarrel is not finished because of a fire which suddenly appears and is a big threat of his fields. He runs out to save the only thing that could be saved – the flax field. There is no one to help him because his children are at the masquerade. He has to try to cut off the fire on his own. In doing this he has to get around the muskeg and the dried lake bottom.
He ran on blindly, conscious only of the direction in which the flax field lay. The fire was gaining with every moment. The wind kept up its velocity… Then suddenly something seemed to be tugging at his feet. He could not release them…. He stood upright again and strained with all his might. But the insisious force in the earth drew him in deeper…. The fire had now got past the point where he was sinking in the black mud. He turned away so that he should not see it [burning flax field]. But he knew that his position would force him to look upon it to the end… unless he closed his eyes. Martha Ostenso 236) In order to save his flax field he sacrificed his own life. The death of Caleb is rather ironical. It Just feels like he got what he deserved. The last thing he saw before he died was the only thing that he ever truly loved – his flax field in flames. Last but not least his death nicely unweaves the plot. It is a happy ending because Judith is finally free, also the secret of Mark Jordan forever buried. This novel uncovers exciting, intricate, and, most importantly, a beautiful story of love and tyranny. Ostenso, Martha. Wild Geese. McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1971, ISBN 0-7710-91 18-4