Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Collector

Title: The Collector
Author: John Fowles
Publisher: Back Bay Books
The Collector is a really disturbing book about a man (Fred Clegg) who kidnaps a woman he is obsessed with.  He recently won the lottery and as a result is able to buy a small cottage and keep the woman hostage.  His interests include collecting insects, such as butterflies.  He is a collector and somehow comes to view the woman the same way he views his butterflies, as objects that are best enjoyed captive.

While I do consider Fred’s actions irreprehensible, I read the book with a fair amount of sympathy towards him.  I think this is necessary when reading any book, regardless if the main character is good or bad you need to be able to relate to them.  From this point of view I was able to see how unfair life can be in matters of love and the characteristics we are born with.  Fred had a terrible life growing up which I think was the reason for his low self-esteem and his nonchalance towards life.  Then one day he meets the girl of his dreams, but is disappointed in recognizing that no matter what he does a girl like that would never love him.  To remedy this acknowledgement, Fred creates a world (thanks mostly to his money) where reality can no longer divide him from his obsessions.  He is now in full control. 

The dangers of isolating one’s self from a reality one is disappointed with, is a very common motive for reckless actions from criminals.  Many people who seem to think they are failures in life, will either go out into the world and harm others or will hurt themselves.  The Collector takes a look at the ones that harm others.  I think this book serves as a way to understand why certain people commit crimes against others, their motives and their illusions.  This is a very intriguing book that I first heard about on a show based on real crimes.  The real crime was about two men who after reading this book, actually started to kidnap women and hold them hostage as sex slaves.  I don’t think the book actually made them go out and commit crimes, but it did give them ideas.

The second half of this book takes the point of view from the girl who was kidnapped by Fred Clegg.  If the first part was about understanding the predator’s perspective, the second half was a sober second thought on the crime.  It serves to put humanity back into the crime. The victim was somebody who had family and friends, who loved life and wasn’t just an object to be contained.  This is the part of the book where you start to hate Fred for what he is doing, because he has gone beyond anything that he is entitled to in life.  While life did suck for him, he had no right to take his pain out on others like a coward.  Instead he should have looked for treatment for his depression elsewhere.  I really enjoyed this book because it showed that love must be mutual, and if it’s not you must not destroy it for others.


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