Chapter Summaries & Analyses
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.
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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.
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By John Fowles