The Wasp Factory

by

Iain Banks

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Angus Cauldhame Character Analysis

Angus is father to Frank, Eric, and Paul. He is around forty-five years old. Frank describes him as tall and slim, almost feminine. Agnes broke his left leg almost fourteen years ago, and he poorly reset it himself, and now must walk with a cane. Most of the reader’s information about Angus comes secondhand from Frank, who knows his father was some kind of doctor, either of chemistry or biochemistry. Now Angus lives off residual patent money, and the remaining wealth of his family. Angus is in many ways a mystery—he shares very little information with Frank, and in fact delights in feeding him misinformation. He maintains power over his son through physical control of the home and island (locking doors and homeschooling Frank), and through frequent verbal abuse. In the book’s final chapters it is revealed that Angus has also been controlling Frank’s body. Angus has been feeding Frank/Frances male hormones since the accident with Old Saul, raising Frances, who was born a girl, as a boy. Angus seems to see this as a kind of experiment, the kind he did as a scientist, as opposed to a violation of Frances’s basic human rights.

Angus Cauldhame Quotes in The Wasp Factory

The The Wasp Factory quotes below are all either spoken by Angus Cauldhame or refer to Angus Cauldhame. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Wasp Factory published in 1998.
Chapter 1 Quotes

‘I hope you weren’t out killing any of God’s creatures.’

I shrugged at him again. Of course I was out killing things. How the hell am I supposed to get heads and bodies for the Poles and the Bunker if I don’t kill things? There just aren’t enough natural deaths. You can’t explain that sort of thing to people, though.

‘Sometimes I think you’re the one who should be in the hospital, not Eric.’ He was looking at me from under his dark brows, his voice low. Once, that sort of talk would have scared me, but not now. I’m nearly seventeen, and not a child. Here in Scotland I’m old enough to get married without my parent’s permission, and have been for a year. There wouldn’t be much point to me getting married perhaps — I’ll admit that — but the principle is there.

Besides, I’m not Eric; I’m me and I’m here and that’s all there is to it. I don’t bother people and they had best not bother me if they know what’s good for them. I don’t go giving people presents of burning dogs, or frighten the local toddlers with handfuls of maggots and mouthfuls of worms. The people in the town may say ‘Oh, he’s not all there, you know,’ but that’s just their little joke (and sometimes, to rub it in, they don’t point to their heads as they say it); I don’t mind. I’ve learned to live with my disability, and learned to live without other people, so it’s no skin off my nose.

Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

‘I’ve told you; he’s crazy but he’s very cunning. He’s not stupid. He was always very bright, right from the start. He was reading early and getting all his relations and uncles and aunts to say “Och, they’re old so young these days” and things like that before I was even born.’

‘But he is insane, all the same.’

‘That’s what they say, but I don’t know.’

‘What about the dogs? And the maggots?’

‘OK, that looks pretty crazy, I’ll admit, but sometimes I think maybe he’s up to something, maybe he’s not really crazy after all. Perhaps he just got fed up acting normal and decided to act crazy instead, and they locked him up because he went too far.’

‘And he’s mad at them,’ Jamie grinned, drinking his pint as I annihilated various dodging, mulit-coloured spacecraft on the screen. I laughed. ‘Yeah, if you like. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he really is crazy. Maybe I am. Maybe everybody is. Or at least all of my family.’

Now you’re talking.’

I looked up at him for a second, then smiled. ‘It does occur to me sometimes. My dad’s an eccentric…I suppose I am, too.’ I shrugged, concentrated on the space battle again. ‘But it doesn’t bother me. There are a lot madder people about the place.’

Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I want to laugh or cry or both, as I sit here, thinking about my own life, my three deaths. Four deaths now, in a way, now that my father’s truth has murdered what I was.

But I am still me; I am the same person, with the same memories and the same deeds done, the same (small) achievements, the same (appalling) crimes to my name.

Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
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Angus Cauldhame Character Timeline in The Wasp Factory

The timeline below shows where the character Angus Cauldhame appears in The Wasp Factory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Sacrifice Poles
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
The book opens on the day that Frank and his father, Angus, are informed that Eric, Frank’s brother, has escaped from the mental hospital. Frank has spent... (full context)
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...with his binoculars, watching him disappear down the path towards the house Frank shares with Angus. (full context)
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Frank wonders if, when he returns home, Angus will tell him the truth about his interaction with Diggs. (full context)
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Frank returns home in the early evening. He notices that Angus looks worried, but thinks he might be trying to manipulate him. Angus tells Frank that... (full context)
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Angus serves Frank soup and sits at the far end of the kitchen table. Frank observes... (full context)
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Angus asks Frank how tall the table is. Frank answers it is thirty inches, and Angus... (full context)
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Frank was homeschooled by Angus, who taught him a mixture of facts and total lies. Only when Frank grew older... (full context)
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Angus says he hopes Frank wasn’t out killing animals. Frank doesn’t answer, but thinks to himself... (full context)
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Angus remarks that sometimes he thinks Frank, not Eric, should be in the hospital. Frank thinks... (full context)
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Frank knows Angus is also nervous about Eric coming home, because any police investigations into the family might... (full context)
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Angus goes to bed. Frank thinks about his father’s study — the one room in the house... (full context)
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...still “mad, of course.” Eric says he’s coming home to check in on Frank and Angus, but refuses to say how close he is. Frank cautions Eric not to “annoy people,”... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Snake Park
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Frank returns home for lunch. Angus is going out, but Frank knows better than to ask where—Angus never gives him a... (full context)
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In the present, Frank wakes from his reveries. He observes that Angus hasn’t returned home, but he isn’t concerned. Frank notes his own “ambivalent attitude” towards his... (full context)
Chapter 3: In the Bunker
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After his ritual, Frank returns home. Angus has returned and is chopping wood in the garden. Frank offers to make lunch, but... (full context)
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...café, where he looks at movie posters on the walls and considers his relationship with Angus. Frank and his father have an “unspoken agreement,” that as long as Frank stays out... (full context)
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...old warship by Frank’s grandfather, Colin Cauldhame. Colin used it domestically to light fires, and Angus did too for a while, but now he just watches over the stash. Frank believes... (full context)
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Over dinner, Angus tells Frank that the police are searching for Eric on the moors. Angus asks Frank... (full context)
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...stays up until almost eleven, and is surprised to hear the phone ring. It’s Eric. Angus comes out of his room and watches Frank take the phone call. Frank pretends Eric... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Bomb Circle
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...where he collapses in the sand. As he rests, he considers how the Bomb Circle, Angus’s injured leg, and Frank’s many dead pets are all the fault of Agnes, his mother,... (full context)
Chapter 5: A Bunch of Flowers
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...nightmares. For a week Frank pretended to recover, letting slip pieces of the truth to Angus and Diggs—Esmerelda was tangled up in a big kite, he tried to save her and... (full context)
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Hung-over, Frank spends Sunday in bed. When he eventually comes downstairs, Angus criticizes him for drinking. That night the phone rings, and Frank eagerly answers. It’s Eric.... (full context)
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...In turn, Eric is frustrated that Frank isn’t playing his game, and becomes agitated when Angus wakes up and listens to the phone call, causing Frank to pretend he is talking... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Skull Grounds
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...the island on her motorcycle. She was pregnant with some other man’s child, but expected Angus to care for her and deliver her baby. Initially resistant, Angus spent the next three... (full context)
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Two days later, Agnes left on her motorcycle, leaving Paul behind. Angus tried to stop her, but she ran over his leg and took off. Frank remarks... (full context)
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...was buried on a hill behind the house, which Frank eventually named the Skull Grounds. Angus claimed to have cut Old Saul open and retrieved Frank’s genitals, but Frank has never... (full context)
Chapter 7: Space Invaders
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...Invaders and continue to talk. Frank remarks that there are people crazier than him or Angus is, who he sees as eccentrics. Jamie agrees, and suggests many of them are political... (full context)
Chapter 10: Running Dog
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...ball. He whispers, “Frank’ll get you.” Frank buries the dog and returns home. He and Angus have dinner, but do not discuss Eric. Frank notices a headline in the paper saying... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Prodigal
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...with his binoculars. He sees some smoke, but doubts Eric has generated it. He watches Angus leave home and walk to town unsteadily. Frank suspects he is drunk. This is unusual,... (full context)
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Inside, the phone is hanging off the hook. Frank suspects Angus got a phone call, was surprised by it, and got drunk. Frank debates what Eric’s... (full context)
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Frank sits in his kitchen, waiting. In the early evening Angus calls incredibly drunk. He tells Frank Eric has been caught, and asks Frank to come... (full context)
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...to the sound of someone moving around downstairs. He hopes its Eric, but its just Angus, staggering drunkenly to bed. Angus yells for Frank but Frank doesn’t respond. After his father... (full context)
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Angus is sleeping in bed. Frank wakes him with two slaps to the face. Frank shows... (full context)
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...outside to find Eric hacking at the cellar door with an axe. Frank yells to Angus to get out of the house. Eric makes it through the door, but drops the... (full context)
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Frank goes back inside. The sheep have all died or burned out. Eric has disappeared. Angus is at the sink with a bucket of water and a carving knife. Frank explains... (full context)
Chapter 12: What Happened to Me
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The previous night Angus told Frank the truth. Then the pair barricaded the cellar, looked around for Eric, and... (full context)
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Frank repeats what Angus explained last night. Frank is not Francis Leslie Cauldhame. Instead, Frank is Frances Lesley Cauldhame.... (full context)
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This is why Angus always cooked, and why Frances had a beard and no periods. Angus also added bromide... (full context)