Skellig–part 3


So, who is Skellig?

We meet Skellig when he’s weak, helpless, starving, almost turned to stone like the dead birds . . . abandoned with the trash in a garage that’s falling to pieces around him.

Michael is closed, angry about the move, angry about the premature infant who’s taken so much from him . . . his home, his parents’ attention. He, too, feels abandoned.

Skellig is rooted in this world. We see him as a shabby old man. He’s cranky and he loves Chinese food. We see the stiffness and pain of his arthritis. And even the supernatural about him is rooted in the reality of what it is to be an owl: he eats flies. When Michael and Mina carry him to Mina’s abandoned house he’s far too light, because his bones are hollow. The owls there consider him one of their own and feed him.


And yet, he is supernatural. If his roots are in this world, his head, shoulders and wings are in the next. He appears in Michael’s dreams, asking “What do you want?” He appears in Michael’s mother’s dream as a shabby old man with wings and compassionate eyes, to save Michael’s brother. When Skellig, Michael and Mina join together in a circle the two children sprout wings–while they are in the circle–just as Michael’s brother does in his mother’s dream. Michael and Mina were drained afterward, but the baby was strengthened. Perhaps, we think, Michael and Mina gave Skellig the strength to pass on to the infant.

But there is a path through the book from frozen old man-owl to angel-like being. At each step along the path Michael seems to learn something, to open up and become less angry as he is able to feed Skellig, to get him aspirin, to move him to the house with the owls, and at each step Skellig gains strength.

So Skellig shows us, in the world, what Michael’s inner emotional state is–he is an objective correlative.

Don’t give up.

Skellig’s roots, then, are in Michael’s anger and aggression toward his little brother; owls are, after all, birds of prey. But Skellig, finally, is Michael’s love for his brother, his family and Mina. Perhaps all love has some aggression at its core.


2 Responses to “Skellig–part 3”

  1. 1 Laura

    Michael has a sick SISTER. not a brother.

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