Study Guide

The Luminaries Revenge

By Eleanor Catton

Revenge

His good humor was quite restored; he was even giddy. Such a tonic for the spirit is the promise of revenge (I.7.317).

In a conversation with Thomas Balfour, Alistair Lauderback realizes that he might be able to get revenge on Frank Carver for duping him and blackmailing him out of the Godspeed. Suddenly, his mood improves dramatically. Of course, this revenge doesn't prove to be as easy as Lauderback is hoping, since Carver covers his tracks pretty well.

He could not forget his earlier grievance with Dick Mannering, for it was explicitly by Mannering's hand that he was now forced to remain indentured to a duffer claim. Here was a chance both to get his revenge, and earn his freedom (I.9.95).

To ensure that he can pay off his debt (despite the fact that he's indentured to a duffer claim) and get back at Mannering (by stealing what he assumes is Mannering's gold), Quee starts removing gold from Anna's dresses, smelting it with the Aurora's name stamped on it, and banking it under the mine's name. He has a score to settle with Mannering for yolking him to the duffer claim in the first place.

'Then I will listen with compassion. A betrayal of any of my countrymen is a betrayal of me.'
Ah Sook frowned at this. 'The betrayal is mine to avenge,' he said (I.11.231-232).

Sook is about to tell Quee the full story of the nasty things Frank Carver had done to him and his family. Sook has sworn to kill Carver to avenge his father's death, and he doesn't really seem to be looking for help …

'Something to do with a murder,' said Frost, who was still watching her very closely. 'Something to do with revenge' (II.11.105).

When Lydia Wells awakens after her fit at the séance, she asks what happened—and what she said while she was under. Frost reports only the vaguest details about the statement, which was actually Sook's original oath to kill Carver.

He would purchase a store of shot, a tin of black powder, and a gun. Then he would walk to the Palace Hotel, climb the stairs, open Carver's door, and take his life (II.11.119).

In the aftermath of the séance, Sook learns that Carver is alive and well (as opposed to a spirit speaking through Lydia Wells) and in Hokitika at that very second. So, he resolves to hide out until he has enough money to buy a gun and then go kill Carver. He thinks he's thisclose to getting revenge on his archenemy, finally …

'Revenge,' said Shepard firmly, 'is an act of jealousy, not of justice. It is a selfish perversion of the law' (III.10.62).

Shepard claims not to agree with revenge, and he killed Sook before he was able to bring off his revenge on Carver. However, what he's not admitting is that his killing of Sook was totally motivated by a desire to avenge his brother's death, for which he blamed Sook. Ah, hypocrisy.

'If I see him,' said Carver, 'I'll kill him' (VI.2.7).

Carver tells Lydia Wells what he'll do to Crosbie if he sees him. In addition to the fact that it would be convenient to have the man he defrauded out of the way (and therefore unable to reveal his fraud), Carver has extra incentive to want Crosbie dead since Crosbie slashed his face open.

'It would be as good as murder, Mr. Staines. He's got a score to settle. He wants me dead' (VI.3.17).

Crosbie himself believes that Frank will be coming after him in revenge, so he warns Staines that telling Carver where he is would be equivalent to killing him.

'What's the opposite of a homeward-bounder?' said Mannering presently. 'A never-going-homer? A stick-it-to-Mr.-Carver?' (VIII.4.8).

This is a flashback to the moment in which Mannering and Staines cook up the scheme for Staines to buy Mannering's duffer claim, which would mean Carver never got any money out of his sponsorship of Staines. Mannering seems perfectly delighted to help Staines stick it to Frank.

'Does he know? What have I just told you? I'm not keen on getting murdered in my bed, thank you' (VIII.4.12).

While Staines and Mannering are plotting, they discuss Quee, the digger who works the Aurora claim. As Mannering notes, Quee would be very annoyed—and probably seek revenge—if he knew he had become indentured to a duffer claim.

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