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Quotes

Quote #1

"Nay," said Mr. Campbell, "who can tell that for a surety? But the name of that family, Davie, boy, is the name you bear–Balfours of Shaws: an ancient, honest, reputable house, peradventure in these latter days decayed. (1.8)

Gentry, or nobility, is one of the major themes of this novel. Davie is the heir to the Shaws household (although he doesn't know it). How does Davie's status as a Lowland laird compare with Alan's place in the Stewart clan? Or Ardshiel's role as Stewart clan chief? How do definitions of nobility differ in the Lowlands and in the Highlands?

Quote #2

"Is this my house or yours?" said [Ebenezer], in his keen voice, and then all of a sudden broke off. "Na, na," said he, "I didnae mean that. What's mine is yours, Davie, my man, and what's yours is mine. Blood's thicker than water; and there's naebody but you and me that ought the name." And then on he rambled about the family, and its ancient greatness, and his father that began to enlarge the house, and himself that stopped the building as a sinful waste; and this put it in my head to give him Jennet Clouston's message. (3.45)

First of all, Ebenezer commits a major slip of the tongue there in that first line, since the house is in fact Davie's and not his. But it's also interesting that Ebenezer spends so much time preaching about blood, since in the next sentence, he admits that his father "began to enlarge the house" but he "stopped the building as a sinful waste." Perhaps the on-again-off-again expansion of the Shaws house could also work as a metaphor for the Shaws family in general: Ebenezer's father tried to enlarge and strengthen the family with his two sons, but by quarreling with Alexander, Ebenezer stopped the family's growth in its tracks.

Quote #3

"Uncle Ebenezer," I said, "I can make nothing out of this. You use me like a thief; you hate to have me in this house; you let me see it, every word and every minute: it's not possible that you can like me; and as for me, I've spoken to you as I never thought to speak to any man. Why do you seek to keep me, then? Let me gang back–let me gang back to the friends I have, and that like me!" (3.54)

Ebenezer may be observing the letter of the law by having his kin come to live with him, but he's breaking the rules of affection that are supposed to bind relatives together. Do we see much affection between Highland clansmen like Alan Breck Stewart and James Stewart? What role do feelings and emotion play in family in this novel?

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