The Lights Below

645 Words3 Pages
'The Lights Below' by Carl MacDougall is a novel in which an important part is played by an act of violence. Andy Paterson is brought up by his Grandmother in Glasgow, after his father was robbed and murdered. His mother then marries his father’s killer which divides his family. Andy’s first wife Margaret sets Andy up by hiding a Class B substance in his room and he serves two years in jail. He then uses a lawyer to find out his wife’s new house and petrol bombs the property as an act of revenge. MacDougall uses many techniques such as symbolism, structure and characterization, to deepen our understanding of the character and to make us realize why the act of violence took place. MacDougall’s choice of symbolism is effective in leading up to the act of violence. By using the idea of a ‘Worm’, “Worms, the doctor told him. Everyone gets them in here”, we learn that Andy has caught ‘Tapeworm’ in jail. This links with the metaphorical worm that grows in Andy’s mind. MacDougall uses this to influence as well as dominate Andy’s decisions throughout his life. Andy’s character progressively becomes more determined as the ‘Worm’ appears to grow. An idea that the story gave me was the ‘Worm’ had a control over him from an early age, “When he was hungry, he imagined he was feeding the worm rather than himself”. This proved that the worm had a higher status over Andy himself and when it demanded, Andy delivered. I believe this inner dominance gave Andy the strength to beat his grandfather while he was asleep; it gave him a sense of relief of all the pressure he had built up and helped him forget some of his dreadful past. Ultimately this gave him the drive to finally hunt down his ex-wife and petrol bomb her house. As well as symbolism MacDougall also uses structure to piece together Andy’s motives for his actions in the climax of the story. Andy is a man who has endured

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