55 pages 1 hour read

John Fowles

The Collector

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1963

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Chapter 1, Pages 5-48Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1, Pages 5-24 Summary

Content Warning: These Chapter Summaries & Analyses describe the stalking, kidnapping, forced captivity, and psychological torture that feature in the novel.

Twenty-one-year-old Frederick Clegg is a lonely young man from a working-class family who works as a clerk in Southampton, England. In his free time, he collects butterflies and bets on the soccer pools.

After his father died and his mother abandoned him when he was two years old, Frederick was raised by his Aunt Annie and Uncle Dick. Dick loved Frederick like a son, taking him fishing and encouraging his butterfly collecting (which Annie demeaned); Dick is the only person by whom Frederick has ever felt understood and loved. He died when Frederick was 15.

After a stint in the army, Frederick works as a clerk in Southampton. Frederick despises his coworkers. He especially resents the lustful looks women give his coworker Crutchley, whom Frederick finds vulgar. In general, Frederick finds sexuality base: “It’s some crude animal thing I was born without. (And I’m glad I was, if more people were like me, in my opinion, the world would be better)” (10). Frederick avoids fraternizing with his coworkers outside of gambling in the soccer pools.