Judul: No Great Mischief chapter summaries topics
Penulis: Allisa Oliverio
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod – Topics and Themes
Identify and give the significance of terms. Identify and elaborate on the significance (i.e. connection to plot development, characterization, symbols, motifs, patterns, contrasts, literary devices, etc). Make specific reference to the novel.
*"All of us are better when we're loved."* chess set* Christy* Calum Ruadh house* James MacDonald* "No great mischief if they fall…" Margaret Laurence's "lost languages"
*Catriona * the wrenchCalum Ruadh's Point* family dogs
* parents * Scotland* plaid shirt* gille beag ruadh* crippled pigeon* Colin
* Peru* Renco Development* Lucy Gray* joke picture* the wallet
* kitten(Piseag)* Grandma* Grandpa * Vietnam* blackfish
* Grandfather* Catriona"'My hope is constant in thee, Clan Donald."
* Fern Picard * Marcel Gingras* San Francisco Alexander MacDonald
Chapter 1 – introduction to the narrator (Alexander MacLeod and his brother, Calum); love of Cape Breton but not ever going back, Cape Breton Island shot glass (10)
Chapter 2 – gille beag ruadh ("the little red boy" or "the little red-haired boy"), history of Calum Ruadh (the red-haired Calum who came from Scotland in 1779 with his family), and reference to the original Calum at rest: "Fois do t'anam. Peace to his Soul" (27)
Chapter 3 – family knowledge, connections
Chapter 4 – twins raised by grandparents, story of grandfather's father dying (32), grandfather's careful habits --"He has always been loyal to his blood." (35), "the chance" (p. 37), Grandpa's maintenance job (37-38)
Chapter 5 – memories of paternal grandparents, Grandpa's joke picture (43)
Chapter 6 – twins go to live with the grandparents, death of parents and Colin, "Lucy Gray" poem (class memory, reminders of death of the parents, past imagery) p. 50
Chapter 7 – the wake/visitation for Colin at home of grandparents, grandfather's violin playing (54), melting ice -"as if eaten by a hidden cancer which only now began to make itself visible" (55), family's dog: "It was in those dogs to care too much and to try too hard." (56-57), Colin's parka (57 & other earlier references)
Chapter 8 – changing realities e.g. names and maps of places; "Living in the past is not living up to our potential." (60)
Chapter 9 – return of the brothers to the old Calum Ruadh house (61), "It is hard when looking at the pasts of other people to understand the fine points of their lives" (62), "'Rearing the Modern Child,' and …the subheadings was entitled 'Grandparents'" (67), "He says you're not my grandfather, only his," said the sobbing red-haired Alexander MacDonald" (68).
Chapter 10 – migrant workers, different opportunities for different people; 'It doesn't make much difference.' Pick your own." (71)
Chapter 11 – teenaged years of the twins and changes e.g. "Only the hardest promontories of pure stone seemed to remain constant, but if one looked closely one could see changes in them also. A new smoothness born of a new wearing, or small pockmarks on new surfaces where previously there were none. The cliff was moving inland while Calum Ruadh's grave seemed to be moving out towards its edge." (73-74), "lamp of the poor" (75), brothers' lifestyle e.g. embarrassment at questions (75), Christy (dependence upon her assistance + Romantic/pastoral images of her) p. 76-81, Calum's infected tooth (79-81)
Chapter 12 – descriptions of his work as a dentist or dental surgeon, information pamphlets (compare/contrast to Calum's experience or that of the family altogether) e.g. "Sometimes, as healing advances, small sharp splinters may work up through the tissue and be a source of discomfort and unexpected pain" (83), crippled pigeon
Chapter 13 – brothers growing older with some problematic behavior e.g. stopped by the police in their cars (84), talk of Scottish history e.g. At tax time, Grandpa says to Grandfather: "'My hope is constant in thee, Clan Donald,' which is what Robert the Bruce was supposed to have said to the MacDonalds at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314." (88), clan loyalty, loyalty to one's blood
Chapter 14 – narrator Alexander's visit with his sister Catriona in Calgary and stories about visit to Scotland e.g. implied comparison/contrast with her living conditions: "within the walls of her modernistic house, located high upon one of the more prestigious ridges of the new and hopeful Calgary" (93), horrific story of MacDonald massacre in Glencoe (94), reference again to the dog shot by the lighthouse keeper (95), Macaulay's view of history according to Catriona: "He was one of those people who went through history picking and choosing and embellishing" (97).
Chapter 15 – blackfish—"We thought of ourselves as deceptive male sirens who had lured him to his death, although we did not phrase our thoughts in such language at the time" (101). "Hundreds of yards inland, we later found the body itself, disguised beneath a small mountain of brown and tangled seaweed adorned with scattered stones and sticks of broken driftwood. The sea had taken the body in instead of out, and it stayed there for more than a year until only its bones were visible to the eye" (102).
Chapter 16 – contract pickers, beer with a professor, "los desaparecidos" /"the disappeared" (107), graduation day (107), "No great mischief if they fall" (109), letter from San Francisco relatives regarding grandson Alexander drafted for Vietnam & "blood is thicker than water" (109-110), loyalty & strength of family ties, lumber camp and "the lamp of the poor" (111), grandfather's father (113), curiosity about origins/family history, Gaelic song (115; 139), grandfather's images of his father (114-115), singing of songs on the way home (117), Grandpa vs. Grandfather (117)
Chapter 17 – gifts from Grandfather of hand-carved chess set and plaque: "My hope is constant in thee" (118), Alexander MacLeod's death (119), "It seemed so complex—that while I was going forth into a world of perfect teeth, his unanticipated death was waiting for him…"(119), "A lot has happened to us on this day…" (120) aunt's purchase of a MacDonald plaid shirt (120)
Chapter 18 – return home of the red-haired Alexander MacDonald from Sudbury – "ferrying the dead" (120), management's attitude to the death (121), circumstances (121), tools e.g. wrenches thrown away upon quitting (121) , different reactions to dealing with death in the family (123), altercation between Calum and police (123-124), police come for Calum (124-126), ties to land belonging to Calum Ruadh (126), Grandfather's choice of readings for the funeral (128)
Chapter 19 – setting the scene/shift in time and place (129), superintendant calls back the brothers (130), Calum's visit with Christy (131), plaid shirt (132)
Chapter 20 – trip to Sudbury and mine (Renco Development); imagery of area: "The roots looked like diseased and badly pulled teeth" (133)
Chapter 21 – set-up of the camp (135-136), Gaelic identity, connection to heritage & family tier (137), Holy prayer: prayer for when reaching surface after mining, safety, contrast of light and dark, mystery (139), contrast between the weather underground & above (140), daily rituals (142-145), plans and payment (145-), contrasts with different groups, singing by different groups (147-148)
Chapter 22 – outside of camp gates & Canadian Shield (148-150), James MacDonald (151-158), dance with French musicians
Chapter 23 – visit by Catriona from Calgary to Scotland, vision of a woman speaking in Gaelic (159), woman with dogs (160), "the land of trees" (161), Catriona's experience with Gaelic : "It was just like it poured out of me, like some subterranean river that had been running deep within me and suddenly burst forth." (163); twins, family resemblance (164), the dogs (165-167)
Chapter 24 – imported workers
Chapter 25 – staying on schedule at mine (170), Alexander MacDonald's death – accidental or not? (171), lucky vs. unlucky—death of parents (173)
Chapter 26 – "In the lulls between shifts my brothers often spoke of the landscape of their youth and their later young manhood" (173), Grandpa drunk on the ice and survives /Grandpa's ice experience (175-181), embarrassment about Grandpa's "almost accident" (180), stories/perspectives from the brothers (181-182), "It is curious…how Grandpa was saved from the ice in March and yet was perceived as a careless man, while our parents who tried to do everything right went down without salvation" (182)
Chapter 27 - the beer store/ "Pick your own" (183), treatment of calloused hands in old house (184), steady/unsteady hands (185), half full/half empty point of view with beer & memories (185-186), seeing Marcel Gingras once again (187-189), foreshadowing of Calum's alcoholism(?) and present day condition (190), "My hope is constant in thee, Clan Donald" (191), poetic language at the conclusion of the chapter
Chapter 28 – reflection upon family history (192), Margaret Laurence's "lost languages" (193), "Do you ever think about that, about the way you speak, about the language of the heart and the language of the head?" (193), Catriona's experiences with clan at the departure gates (194-195)
Chapter 29 – return journey, families of Mexican Mennonites & Jamaicans (196), French Canadians (197)
Chapter 30 – Marcel Gingras (198-), back in the past on the Canadian Shield, teaching one another first languages (199), call from Grandpa and trip to Sudbury for cousin Alexander MacDonald from San Francisco (200-208 and into Ch. 31), Christy (203-205), Grandpa: "Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland"/Grandma: "Always look after your own blood." (202-204), wrench (205), borrowing of Marcel Gingras' car (206-207), Calum's statement: "If I had been with them I might have saved them." (209)
Chapter 31 – memories from their past lives in Cape Breton during the drive to Sudbury, rainbow made by their father in boat off of Calum Ruadh's Point (210), word choice/diction in "Perhaps…" (210), trip made by the brothers to the island (210-215), rescue of kitten "Piseag, 'pussycat'" and adoption/care of her (212)
Chapter 32 – continuation of journey to Sudbury to pick up San Francisco cousin and memories of parents & grandparents
Chapter 33 – flat tire on car borrowed from Marcel Gingras (217-218), Calum's concerns regarding Fern Picard and re-telling of story concerning the death of cousin Alexander in the mine (218-220), "A lot was happening…on your graduation day" (219)., pulled over by the police (220-221), pick up of cousin and observation of his attitudes (222-224), security pass of dead cousin (225)
Chapter 34 – "The people of Glencoe" and "king of the herring"/perspective (226), Grandfather's discomfort with the circumstances of his birth & his wife's death (229), Zulus & displacement of Masai (230-233), Grandfather's care of narrator's mother (229, 232-), clan similarities & Scottish history (224-), photo of parents (239-241), "No Great Mischief" letter (241)
Chapter 35 – "The new Alexander MacDonald…" a talented high school quarterback, Celtic ring with "the never-ending circle" (243)
Chapter 36 – Alexander MacDonald's injury (243-244), characterization of the new Alexander—athletic, fearless, quick learner, poker-faced (244), history happening in the outside world (244-247), "draft evaders" (246), Marcel Gingras' efforts with French (248), the ambiguity, challenge, and consequence of doing "the right thing" (251)
Chapter 37 – Alexander MacDonald's hard work and apparent character, breaking of the hoist (251-), Alexander MacDonald's purchase of beer (254), Fern Picard (254-), fight between Calum and Fern Picard /cultural differences (255-), Alexander MacDonald's vanishing (255), car lights: "there are many things that people will do in the dark that they will not do in light." (256), pipe wrench (257), death of Fern Picard (257), Calum's reaction (257)
Chapter 38 – charge with second degree murder, Calum's defense with no lawyer (259), imagery of the Canada geese & loss of their leaders (260), quarterbacks (260), Fern Picard's wallet in Alexander MacLeod's footlocker (260-261), plaid shirt (261)
Chapter 39 – conviction (262)
Chapter 40 –lives of the other brothers e.g. bus driver in B.C. (262), fish farmer in Scotland (263), references to Canada , Cape Breton specifically, and Scottish history (263)
Chapter 41- Grandpa's death (264), Grandfather's death (264-265), Grandma's version of family history in spite of her dementia (265-272), allusion to MacDonald clan within song and what they were like (271), dogs in the nursing home (269-272), "All of us are better when we are loved" (272), gille beag ruadh (272)
Chapter 42 – Grandma's sayings (273), narrator's reflection upon his profession & place in life: "When I first started practicing dentistry, I sometimes saw myself in my white coat with my dentist's drill as an extension of my earlier self, with the jackleg drill" (273), landscape and different people moving (273), Kingston Penitentiary & native inmates (274), "life sentence" (274), the double entendre of visits (274-275), phone call forgotten by son/"Le pays des Laurentides" of Marcel Gingras (275-276)
Chapter 43 – Calum's call in late March & journey to Cape Breton Island (276- ), police cruiser stops the car (280), "Ferry the dead. Fois do t'anam. Peace to his soul. /'All of us are better when we're loved." (283)
Chapters 1 & 2 – Re-read to see and note the symmetry with both structure & content.
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