Violence and Sexuality in Cal
Throughout the narrative we can find scenes where violence and sexuality fuses, in what follows, I would like to insider these scenes and interpret their significance in the novel. The first Instance when sexuality and violence becomes linked together Is years before the actual plot. Cal recalls a school Incident, when a teacher, Father Durbin assigns Grimly (who makes Cal his accomplice) to find and punish the boy who has been circulating pornographic photos.
In this case the violence is much stronger than sexuality ‘Grimly thumped his knee into his balls Grimly cracked his forehead with his knee again. The boy slewed sideways and banged his ear and the side of his head on the partition as he fell. Cal heard a dull bone noise as Smacker’s back crunched on the delft horseshoe of the lavatory bowl. ‘ In spite of this, the sexuality is represented lightly, only on pictures. As the plot progresses sexuality will strengthen and violence weaken. It is worth to mention that this scene has another importance in the plot.
As Richard Hassle argues there is a very clear parallelism between this and the scene of Robert Moron’s murder. A higher in rank person (a teacher/ AIR commander) Instructs Grimly to complete a task ( the detection and punishment of Smackers/ the killing of Robert Morton) which he effectively carries out. Both During and Softening present moral/ ideological explanation for acts of violence, what is more, on each occasion Cal is a reluctant accomplice, who subsequently experiences guilt.
According to Hassle, the next Incident where violence and sexuality are linked together happens when Cal -because of his frustration that the Job he took does not provide opportunity to see Marcella- decides to meet her in the library. In this case the mode of violence is the Voyeuristic gaze:’ ‘She turned sideways to Cal, scanning the shelf. The profile of her breast become a plateau touched at the tip by the book. Cal wanted to close his eyes. To make a shutter Image of It It Is debatable whether Cal commits an act of violence with being an eyewitness to this somewhat erotic scenery.
In the next scene, however, Calls Intention to peep on his obsession becomes more obvious and violent. After he and his father had been burned out of their home by loyalists, Cal settles in the abandoned cottage on the Morton farm in order to be closer to Marcella and farther from Grimly and Softening. One night at the farm Cal spies on Marcella while the woman prepares for bath. At first he sees only the Vaguest movements’ of her, but as he makes his way onto the roof eventually one of her breasts come Into ‘his line of vision. ‘ The act of violence Is less serious In this case.
Compared to the previous scene where physical violence was present, here Cal 1 OFF it does not appear on a piece of paper, but in front of him live. What is more, this time the “model” is not some stranger ‘slightly out-of-focus women smiling sheepishly’, but the object of his obsession. Not surprisingly Calls reaction to sexuality is noticeable different because of this. After taking the photos from Smackers Cal is afraid to look at them until Grimly passes them over. When it is Marcella who gets into somewhat erotic situation, he tries ‘to make a shutter image of it’, like he did in the library as well.
Not longer after Cal gets back to the cottage from his voyeuristic adventure, the British soldiers break in upon him and interrogate him, because Mrs. Morton noticed the light of a match in the cottage. As Hassle has noted ‘his beating becomes an indirect punishment for both his voyeurism and his involvement in Moron’s murder. ‘ What is more, there is a parallel between this and the closing scenes. His voyeurism is punished, indirectly, with beating, but later, when Cal makes love to Marcella his indirect punishment is escalated to prison.
The punishment because of his feelings for the woman whom husband he helped to kill seems inevitable. On one occasion when Cal is left alone in Marcella home we learn about Calls imagination of Marcella. He imagined her as the Sleeping Beauty in a drugged coma and how he would kiss her and touch her without her responding. How he could cup her cotton blouse against her breast and feel the warmth of her living. She would be splayed for him so that he could look at and touch any part of her. And she would not know it was he, Cal, who was the slayer of her husband.
In this passage, up to this point visually represented, sexuality is supplemented with the desire for the physical contact. However, this contact would be made without Marcella knowing, which would make this an act of violence. As opposed Marcella identification with Sleeping Beauty, on the basis of her unawareness of Calls crime and her beauty, Cal is associated with Quasimodo on the ground of the ugliness what he had done. Later is imagination is confronted with reality, during their love making, and it turns out that two does not overlap.
The climax of the narrative occurs when Cal finally achieves sexual unity with Marcella. The extent to which violence and sexuality was represented in the firs scene, here becomes the reverse of it. In the first case violence was present in a physical way (beating), now sexuality becomes physical. The presence of violence is ensured by the haunting images of the murder, like sexuality was presented on images (pornographic photos) in the case of the school incident. In his article Hassle has stated that ‘The real Marcella actions do not match the vulnerable passivity of the creature in his fantasy.
The fact that the object of his gaze is awake and ‘all the time staring unblinkingly at him’ (138) unnerves him to the point where Cal cannot look Marcella in the eyes during their love-making. ‘ However the real Marcella actions, indeed, do no match the passivity of Sleeping Beauty in his fantasy, but it is rather the recurring images of the murder that unnerves him. After the scenes of the murder came back to him, Marcella notices his nervousness. In his darkness he saw her husband genuflect and the sudden soiling of the wallpaper behind him. The unreal sound of the cap gun.
Marcella touched between his thighs and he felt shame. ‘Don’t worry’, she said. ‘We have all the time in the world. ‘ Cal tried to clear Marcella, the indirect punishment is bound to happen, like it did after spying on her in her bathroom. As Clearly argues ‘ The novel’s sexual fantasy of two Catholics finding love in a Protestant bed must be paid for in the coin of a morality tale – with repentance and atonement. Cal accepts that their love is unattainable and gratefully looses to be beaten ‘ to within an inch of his life. ‘ To conclude, in Cal, the theme of violence and sexuality is often linked together.
The individual scenes where these themes are presented divide the novel into three parts. First, violence is stronger than sexuality (school incident) in this part of the narrative violence is often presented mostly by the AIR members Grimly and Softening and his love with Marcella was in an early stage. Then sexuality and violence comes to somewhat even level (spying on Marcella) the presence of the AIR members fold, but Cal does not feel secure he expects Grimly to show up and he comes obsessed with Marcella, but his love is yet unrequited.
In the last instance sexuality becomes the dominant theme over violence, as Cal achieves sexual unity with Marcella, and Grimly and Softening seems to vanish for good. Calls and Marcella love is the metaphor of the united Ireland which is flourishing while violence declines, but this idea remains unattainable because of the reappearance of the violence associated with the AIR. The novel suggests that the idea of the united Ireland cannot be achieved as long as political violence is present in Northern Ireland.