Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least: Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less... read more
The 'Wasp Factory' of the title is a huge clock face encased in a glass box and salvaged from the local dump. Behind each of the 12 numerals is a trap which leads to a different ritual death (for example burning, crushing, or drowning in Frank's urine) for the wasp that Frank puts into the... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The 'Wasp Factory' of the title is a huge clock face encased in a glass box and salvaged from the local dump. Behind each of the 12 numerals is a trap which leads to a different ritual death (for example burning, crushing, or drowning in Frank's urine) for the wasp that Frank puts into the hole at the center within tubes. Frank believes the death 'chosen' by the wasp predicts something about the future.
There are also Sacrifice Poles, upon which hang the bodies and heads of larger animals, such as seagulls, that Frank has killed and other sacred items. They define and 'protect' the borders of Frank's territory - the island upon which he lives with his father.
Frank occupies himself with his rituals and an array of weapons (from his catapult, to home-made flame throwers and pipe bombs) to control the island. He goes for long walks and runs, and occasionally gets drunk with his dwarf friend Jamie in the local pub. Other than that, Frank has almost no contact with the world outside his island and admits he is afraid of it due to what it did to his brother, Eric.
Frank's older brother Eric is in an insane asylum after witnessing a tragic case of neglect in a hospital where he was training. He escapes in the start of the novel and throughout the book rings Frank from phone boxes; informing him he is coming to visit. Frank is confused as to whether or not he is looking forward to seeing Eric, but it is clear Frank loves his brother dearly. Frank constantly refers to his older brother as being extremely sensitive before "the incident". After a long build-up, which comes to define the book, we discover "the incident" which occurred to drive Eric insane.
“I’m too drunk to recall much of what I’ve said. Which, come to think of it, is probably just as well, judging by the way people who are normally quite sensible dissolve into gibbering, rude, opinionated and bombastic idiots once the alcohol molecules in their blood-stream outnumber the neutrons, or whatever. Luckily, one only notices this if one stays sober oneself, so the solution is as pleasant (at the time, at least) as it is obvious.”
“Each of us, in our own personal Factory, may believe we have stumbled down one corridor, and that our fate is sealed and certain (dream or nightmare, humdrum or bizarre, good or bad), but a word, a glance, a slip - anything ca chage that, alter it entirely, and our marble hall becomes a gutter, out our rat maze a golden path. Our destination is the same in the end, but our journey - part chosen, part determined - is different for us all, and changes even as we live and grow.”