The I-person in the book is being put in charge of Tam and Ritchie, two fencers, just like him. He is to be their foreman because they need to be restraint in some way, when going to England for a job (the base of operation is in Scotland). Tam and Ritchie are always together and they are both not very hard workers. When the narrator is promoted as foreman of Tam and Ritchie, the two are halfway through a job at Mr. McCrindle’s farm. The narrator’s foreman duties start there. When Tam’s tightening a final wire, something accidentally goes wrong and a tool ends up hitting Mr.Order now
McCrindle’s head. “It was an accident”, they say, and then bury him. Even though they’re employer is no more, they finish the fence. Their next job is in England with Mr. Perkins. During the day Tam and Ritchie build the fences according to their boss, Donald, and Mr Perkins’ wishes. However, in the evening they go to the local pub: “the Queens Head”. Here they drink as much beer as their money will allow them to and this is about all they do. They hardly engage contact with anyone else. To their own surprise Tam and Ritchie are asked to build a fence for and by a Mr. Hall.
To this they agree, even though they’re still busy building Mr Perkins’ fence. Mr. Perkins on his turn finds out that his fence is not the only one being built. The moment he ‘catches’ them he is accidentally killed by Ritchie. He was throwing posts over a hedge, and one of them had hit Mr. Perkins at the back of his head. “It was an accident” and they bury him, but, again, they do finish the fence. They all finish Mr Hall’s fence as well (but not in time, which doesn’t please Mr Hall), and are asked to build him pens. They agree to this, but they do not finish this job. Instead, they go back to Scotland.
When they arrive in Scotland they stay there for a week or so before they have to go back to England on a new job for “a certain Mr. Hall”. Obviously, the trio doesn’t like this situation, since they left him with an unfinished job last time. After being there for a short while they find out Mr Hall knows about the dead people they left everywhere. Setting: time and place It’s situated in Scotland and England. It starts in Scotland, but after a couple of pages the trio (Tam, Ritchie and the narrator) moves to England, to a town called Upper Bowland to do the job at Mr Perkins’ farm.
“‘I’m putting you in charge of Tam and Ritchie,’ said Donald. ‘They can’t go to England on their own. ‘” (p. 1) From this quote it’s quite obvious they’re going to England. The next one illustrates they were in Scotland: “Sometime later we passed the sign welcoming you to Scotland if you were coming the other way. ” (p. 52) On the time in which it takes place I can say this: on page forty-three Jock, the bartender, asks Tam if they’ll be back by Christmas, this is after Mr. McCrindle’s death and burial. On page 166 it’s Christmas Eve, and they go back to England for the second time after New Year’s.
So the time span runs from a bit before Christmas till some time after New Year. Title explanation The Restraint of Beasts is the title used. This refers to two things: – The book is about building fences. Fences are used for a certain purpose, keeping in beasts. Making sure they don’t go and wander about any further than the owner wants them to. In other words, restraining them. Hence, The Restraint of Beasts. “As Mr. McCrindle had demonstrated by his phone all, the main concern of farmers was that their fences should be tight. Without this the restraint of beasts was impossible. ” (p. 10)
– The second meaning of the title is the following one: Tam and Ritchie have very similar behaviour compared to cattle and in my opinion particularly to cows. Meaning they do their purpose, but they are slow. You can sort of tell them what to do and where to go, but they don’t listen very well. Since cows are regarded beasts, Tam and Ritchie are, in a way, beasts. The narrator is made foreman, so he can be seen as the restraint. This results as The Restraint of Beasts. They are also restrained by going to the pub. “I looked at Tam and Richie’s faces and wondered if Donald realized the consequences of his actions.
By not sending wages he was more or less pulling the plug on those two. I knew from my time with them that they could only work in the day if they had beer to look forward to at night. ” (p. 208 – 209) Ending The book ends very abruptly in Mr Hall’s office. The last sentences are the following: “Mr Hall sat silently regarding us across his desk. The only sound was the endless churning of the sausage machine, somewhere in the depths of factory. My chair had begun to feel very uncomfortable. ‘What people? ‘ I asked. ‘Well,’ he said. ‘Let’s starts with Mr. McCrindle. ‘” (p. 215)
It’s very peculiar that Mr. Hall knows about Mr. McCrindle. The two men are in no way connected to one another. The only way Mr. Hall might know about Mr. McCrindle is through Donald. The preceding days were peculiar as well. The Hall brothers are very weird about their sausages, about the trio going out to the pub after six o’clock and about having women on the premises. I’m not sure of the meaning of this ending, and I’m not sure about what the Hall Brothers really are. What might have happened is that Donald found out about the death of Mr. McCrindle and Mr. Perkins and therefore arranged that Mr.
Hall would ‘dispose’ of Tam, Ritchie and the narrator by putting them into sausages, and make them disappear. Then again, maybe the Hall Brothers are just psychopaths and eat people. This might explain the high fences they need. It could be to keep people from escaping. If a fence is high and hooked up to a transformer, it would certainly make it harder for people to escape. Point of view This book is written in the first person. The narrator’s name isn’t mentioned in the book at all. We only know a couple of things about him: – He’s English – He’s male – He’s the foreman. Donald made him foreman on page one of the novel.
– During the novel he becomes more careless and easier, more like Tam and Ritchie: “Ritchie found his cigarettes in a dry place beneath his waterproof, and squeezed into his soaking jeans for the lighter. I realized for the first time that I no longer found the ritual irritating. ” (p. 174) Theme I found it quite hard to discover a theme because there’s no real message. We can’t really learn anything from this book except for one thing: how to build a fence. We learn quite a lot about building fences, possibly even all there is to learn. Magnus Mills uses the book to describe what was once his own job, building fences.
He describes the tools, but also uses a certain form of repetition to make us realize building fences (which is basically what the whole book is about), is a very monotonous and repetitive process. The following quotes will illustrate my point: “There were hole-digging implements, wire-tightening gear, a rusty steel spike (blunt), a selection of chisels and a chain winch. (p. 6) “Tam looked at Mr McCrindle and then turned to me. ‘I didn’t mean to do that, he said. ‘I know you didn’t,’ I replied. ” (p. 33) “‘He was dead, wasn’t he? ‘ ‘I’m sure he was,’ said Ritchie. ” ‘What about his cows? ‘
‘They’ll be alright. ‘ (p. 37) “I didn’t mean to do that,’ said Ritchie. ‘I know you didn’t,’ I said. ” (p. 121) “‘He was dead, wasn’t he? ‘ ‘I’m sure he was,’ said Tam. ‘What about his sheep? ‘ ‘They’ll be alright. ‘ (p. 122) Information about the author The Restraint of Beasts was Magnus Mills’ first book. He has himself made a living building fences from 1979 to 1986 before he threw it up and became a bus driver. When being a bus driver you’re supposed to have a lot of thoughts running through your mind, and the idea of this book once came up. And just like the other ideas, he wrote it down.