Cal is a novel set in the early 1980s about a young man, Cal, and his father, Shamie in Northern Ireland. They are two Catholics living on a Protestant estate, and so live very dangerously. During this book, we get a political insight of the troubles of Northern Ireland through the eyes of Cal, as he gets caught up in IRA business. He ends up being the driver for a murder and a hold-up of a newsagent. Eventually the police catch him. Along the way, he also falls in love with Marcella, who is, ironically, the wife of the policeman he helped murder.
This makes the book all three of the genres in the title, eighted equally throughout the book. We can easily see how this book can be described as all three. I believe it could also be compared to Shakespeare’s `Macbeth’, a tragedy. Cal, the tragic hero, has a big self-conscience and is extremely guilty about how he helped murder Robert Morton. We can describe him as a tragic hero as he is a decent citizen, who is dragged in to the IRA doings by his friend, Crilly. His whole life is also undermined by the murder; he must stay in hiding, or there could be a chance he will be caught.
This adds to the inevitability of the novel. There is a certain inevitability about the novel as a whole as well, as it is obvious that it he will be found out, either by the police or by Marcella. His life also ends up as a spiral; he starts off all right, but then the IRA and his own guilt gets to him, as his love affair continues, as do his crimes. A book that is described as a thriller must be exciting, frightening to a certain extent and mysterious. I think that Cal fits all of these adjectives.
As we are told of the killing of Robert Morton early in the book, we keep asking ourselves whether the police or Marcella will ever catch him, and will he ever be free from the involvement with the IRA. The thriller idea can be linked to the inevitable side as well; Marcella must find out; he starts a love affair with her, starts working very near her every day, it must come out sometime. His IRA involvement is very frightening and mysterious; how did he meet Skeffington, and you wonder what he would do to Cal if he `wanted out’.
You are generally scared for Cal, especially during his beating and the burning out scene. MacLaverty builds up the tension as Cal’ begins to sense that something was wrong’ and `begins to run’. Another example is the threat that they receive; Shamie sums the whole scenario by saying `they’ve got us whispering in our own home’. You feel scared for them as they might be killed any moment; this also links to the political side of the novel as well.
Another side to the thriller argument is strongly linked to the love story; the irony in this book is huge, as Marcella has fallen for one of the murderers of her husband. She even gives him his old clothes. Cal’s guilt amounts, but he still cannot tell her; on the last page he debates in his head `Could he ever tell he the truth? ‘ He also gets orried about whether ` she would phone the police. ‘ This again shows the tenseness and inevitability of Cal, and how this idea can be linked to both the thriller and love story side of the novel.
As I have said, Cal is also a very peculiar love story. A few months after the killing of Robert Morton, he notices Marcella in the library. He tries to ignore her, but ends working very close to her, in a farm nearby. Eventually they fall in love and have a sexual relationship. Marcella is completely unaware of Cal’s guilt and shame, and he is torn inside, as he cannot decide whether he should ell her or not. Again, this links to the inevitability of the novel. He makes this uneasiness clear on the last page, as he says ` The trust she showed in falling asleep beside him made him feel worse.
This is what makes the love story so bizarre; it is clear to see that there is romance, but the irony of the situation and Cal’s shame makes it hard for him to decide what he should do. Cal’s tortured mind makes this love story a thriller in itself, as I have explained, as the reader wonders what Cal will do, and when. So, overall, I believe that Cal can be looked upon as a thriller, love tory and political analysis all merged into one, ass the different genres link to each other.
The thriller genre and the love story can be linked, as we are constantly wondering if Marcella will find out, and how, and the political analysis can be linked to the thriller idea, as Cal’s day-to-day lifestyle can be looked upon as frightening, especially during the threat, the beating and the burning out. These scenarios really exist, and this both shows what happens politically, but makes a good thriller. Therefore, Cal is all three, but merged into one genre with parts of the other three linked together.