Overview Of Alistar Macleod's No Great Mischief

1445 words - 6 pages

Alistar Macleod’s “No Great Mischief” is a novel full of constant recollections of the Clann Calum Ruadh’s past and genealogy and relating it to the history of Canada; everything that happened in the family’s past effected the life they live currently. This is evident in the characters Alexander McDonald, his brother Calum, the different groups of people and all the connections they have with their family’s past and connections they have with the Clann Calum Ruadh. Alexander is the main character and is the one explaining the story of the past in a very short time period in the present and he connects the family lines throughout history. Calum, the older brother, was left to take care of himself and his siblings at a young age, which results in his drunkenness at the present. Included in the story, at many different time periods, are various groups of people, such as the French Canadians, the English, and the Migrant workers who make an impact on the characters of the story. The reoccurring phrase “Always look after your own blood” (14) was passed down the family line and is questioned and demonstrated by the characters.

Alexander MacDonald, the narrator of the story, was the youngest with his twin sister, Catherine, and grew up on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He was also known as the “gille beag Ruadh” meaning “the little red-haired boy”(18), a nickname given to him as a young boy. When he was three, the tragic happening of the death of his parents occurred, which changed the course of his life. That was the day where the visit to his grandparents’ house ended up being a permanent visitation of his youth. As young Alexander grew up, his grandparents would always be telling his family stories of their clan’s past and how they came to be in Canada. One telling was the story of the battle on the Plains of Abraham, which was only won by the English due to the bilingual knowledge of someone from the Clan Calum Ruadh. The narrator says in the book and Cynthia Sugars also points out that Calum proudly points out that “ were it not for a MacDonald’s presence on the Plains of Abraham, ‘the history of Canada might be different’ (236)” (134). This story makes the Clan Calum Ruadh very proud of its existence in Canada.

As Alexander grows up and moves away from his grandparents’ house and continues on to a different place, he finds that there are connections to his family everywhere he goes. His brother, Calum, asks Alex if he wants to work in the mines with him, which he does, due to a death of a man familiarly named Alexander MacDonald who had red hair. The company, Renco Development, acknowledged that there was a death on their property, but unfortunately, the company was on a tight schedule, needed to find another man and had to move on with work. Over the years, Alexander found there were “replicas of him [that] keep popping up (both in hair colour and name)” (139) as Cynthia Sugars puts it. At the funeral of the cousin Alexander MacDonald, Alex’s...

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