The Wasp Factory

by

Iain Banks

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Sacrifice Pole Term Analysis

A series of poles Frank has set up around the island. He gives them power by urinating on them and decorating them with pieces of dead animals. He believes they act as guard posts and form a protective barrier.

Sacrifice Pole Quotes in The Wasp Factory

The The Wasp Factory quotes below are all either spoken by Sacrifice Pole or refer to Sacrifice Pole. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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:

I thought again of the Sacrifice Poles; more deliberately this time, picturing each one in turn, remembering their positions and their components, seeing in my mind what those sightless eyes looked out to, and flickering through each view like a security guard changing cameras on a monitor screen. I felt nothing amiss; all seemed well. My dead sentries, those extensions of me which came under my power through the simple but ultimate surrender of death, sensed nothing to harm me or the island.

I opened my eyes and put the bedside light back on. I looked at myself in the mirror on the dressing-table over on the other side of the room. I was lying on top of the bed-covers, naked apart from my underpants.

I’m too fat. It isn’t that bad, and it isn’t my fault – but, all the same, I don’t like the way I’d like to look. Chubby, that’s me. Strong and fit, but still too plump. I want to look dark and menacing; the way I ought to look, the way I should look, the way I might have looked if I hadn’t had my little accident. Looking at me, you’d never guess I’d killed three people. It isn’t fair.

Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sacrifice Pole Term Timeline in The Wasp Factory

The timeline below shows where the term Sacrifice Pole 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
...has escaped from the mental hospital. Frank has spent the day surveying and maintaining his Sacrifice Poles , superstitious totems that he has set up around the island on which he lives. (full context)
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...he must kill animals, because how else is he supposed to get bodies for “ the Poles and the Bunker if I don’t kill things?” (full context)
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Control, Violence, and Power Theme Icon
Frank goes to bed. He reviews the Sacrifice Poles in his mind, examining each “like a security guard changing cameras on a monitor screen.”... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Snake Park
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
The next morning Frank visits the Poles . Most are in good condition. He plants the burned remains of a wasp from... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Prodigal
Ritual and Superstition  Theme Icon
Sanity and Insanity  Theme Icon
...dusts the altar, and adjusts the factory. He makes a circuit of the island, repairing the Sacrifice Poles as needed. He then engages in some target practice, shooting ball bearings and throwing his... (full context)