We meet Mr Joseph Hooper and his son Edmund. Mr Hooper’s father has recently died and he has come into his inheritance – the house Warings.
As a child he hated it here but now he has come to accept the responsibility and status it can give him.
He knows himself to be a man who has failed but not as one who falls from a great height. His wife died some six years ago leaving him to bring up his son alone – for which he obscurely blames her.
He didn’t get on with his father and doesn’t get on with his own son – he doesn’t understand him because he is too like his wife (he is secretive) and his father (he likes dead things and isn’t afraid.)
Edmund sneaks into the Red Room at night and inadvertently destroys a fine specimen of a Death’s Head Hawk Moth.
Warings the house is very important – it is dark, gloomy, an unhappy place, hemmed in by ancient trees.
There are plenty of images of death – the grandfather dying, the moths.
We learn almost nothing of Edmund except for the comments of others; his father’s life we learn about in flashback.
The Kingshaws arrive – she is to be an informal housekeeper and her son Charles is to be a playmate for Edmund.
Edmund refuses to greet the new arrivals; he drops a note to Kingshaw; he taunts him about his father, his school and about where he has lived. They have a brief scrap but we learn that Kingshaw is always afraid, he prefers to get on with people and that he never will go to his mother for help.
Charles rejects his first temptation to push Hooper down the stairs – he is alarmed by the very thought.
Hooper’s attention to detail on hi battle map show a lack of human consideration which his father finds disturbing; we get more insight into the gulf between the Hoopers and between Kingshaw and his mother.
isolation and loneliness.
Kingshaw goes for a walk to escape the oppressive atmosphere at Warings; he is attacked by a crow and on his flight back is made aware that Edmund has seen everything.
That night Hooper puts an old stuffed crow on his bed. Hoopers’ excitement at the thought of it and how it will torment Kingshaw, give us an insight into his character. He also dares Kingshaw to go into the copse. We learn that any time someone has dared him to do something he has done it because he is afraid not to, but he has never felt any better after doing the dare.
Because Kingshaw makes no reference to the event the parents begin to think the boys are getting on with each other.
Hooper seizes the opportunity to lock Kingshaw into the Red Room. Charles is petrified but unable to cry out. Upon release by the adults he says nothing but is sick in the loo.
Kingshaw begins to explain why school is such a place of security for him.
The image of the crow is an enduring one because we realise how much its mindless attack on Kingshaw is like Hooper’s systematic persecution of him.
hostility, isolation, loneliness.