Question to Cal (Irish Conflict)

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Junior Member
Feb 7, 2008
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Student or Learner

I have got a question concerning a certain passage from Bernard Marc Laverty's novel "Cal".

The passages says: Their flages were threaded into the side netting, a red one for a goal, a white one for a point. Mortl and venial sins. Red for sex and murder, white for working while you were collecting the dole. He imagined the priest lening out of the confession box with his flags.

When I was reading the passage my thoughts were that Cal who is on a football play -in a place in which he enjoys freedom because of being in the Republic of Ireland- even in this place is haunted by the memories of his dark sins.
Red, the colour of blood, for supporting Robert Morton's murder and being sexually attracted to the victim's widow Marcella Morton.

But I am not sure what is meant with "..white for working while you were collecting the dole." Cal has no job and therefore is dependent on the dole.
So why does the passage say "..working while collecting the dole".

My guess is that this "working" is connected to his involvement in the IRA.

Am I right with my ideas? What are your guesses?

I would be very grateful if you could help me.



No Longer With Us (RIP)
Oct 19, 2006
Member Type
Because there are people who work while claiming the dole, and this is being classed as a venal sin.

I am not so sure about the link to the IRA activities, unless he is paid for them.

NB: Bernard Mac Laverty [ he's making a point about the spelling of the name "Mclaverty".


Staff member
Jul 29, 2006
Spencers Wood, near Reading, UK
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Retired English Teacher
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:up: To clarify, Malues said 'Cal has no job and therefore is dependent on the dole', but the colour of the flag is nothing to do with Cal specifically. The author is describing a general practice.

(In fact, it may be to do with Cal, in that it is Cal's undertanding of a general practice; Cal might think 'If someone does a casual job while claiming the dole, that's only a venial sin.' Others might disagree; when I was at school, theft was a mortal sin. ;-))

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