Kidnapped Summary and Analysis of Chapters 21-25

Chapter 21 Summary:

They walked in the dark uphill until they came to a cleft of a great mountain, named Corrynakiegh, where a cave lay in which they could hide. They remained in this spot for nearly five pleasant days. They could sneak to a spot near the river and make a fire to warm themselves and cook the fish they caught in the river. Alan attempted to teach David how to use a sword. He was never pleased with David's progress and David thought at times that he might run the sword through him. But, David was pleased with his ability to stand in against Alan.

Soon, Alan mentioned that it would be awhile before the red coats found them. It was time to contact James and have him send money. David wondered how he would accomplish this contact but Alan was resourceful and made a cross out of wood in the tradition of the fiery cross, a signal for the gathering of his clan. He attached the silver button he had given David along with sprigs of birch and fir. Then, Alan explained that he would leave the cross outside the window of John Breck Maccol, a friend of his. John would recognize the button. Also, he would be able to discern that the two sprigs identified in which part of the heather Alan was hiding. David was skeptical but the plan worked and, shortly, the bouman approached the heather. Alan explained to him that he was needed as a messenger. The bouman required that Alan write his plea so Alan found a quill and, using gunpowder, wrote a message.

Three days later the bouman reappeared with a message from Mrs. Stewart, detailing the events which had transpired. James and some servants were imprisoned as facilitators, wanted signs for Alan and David covered the country, and red coats were uncovering buried arms. She included a small sum of money, a blessing for their safety, and a copy of the wanted poster. Alan was pleased with the description of his French wear. David was also pleased because he had since changed his clothes and was thus safer. He suggested that Alan change his clothes but Alan refused. David began to think that he may be safer away alone because he would not be recognized. Still, he could not be disloyal. Alan asked the bouman for his button back but John Breck said he had lost it. Alan did not believe him and the button was returned to David.


The duality of self is explored in the relationship of David and Alan as two sides to a complete human persona. Alan tells David, "Ye're a man of small contrivance, David." They agree that hiding in Corrynakiegh is a good time to send to James for money. However, David does not see how they can possibly contact James and his family while he and Alan are hiding and have no means of communication. David is looking for logical, straightforward ways of affecting an action and when he does not see an easy possibility, he is incapable of looking further. He lacks creativity and romantic imagination.

Alan, by contrast, knows that if he thinks about the problem for a long enough time, he will invent some way of solving it. He is inventive and enterprising, refusing to be easily quieted. Creatively and constructively, Alan makes a cross which stands as a metonym for Alan's clan and his people's long history and tradition. The cross and the signified objects which he attaches to the symbol are a very clever way of communicating his need. David would not have imagined a vehicle of communicating which was so deeply endowed with meaning using the limited tools available.

Over the course of the five days spent in the cave at Corrynakiegh, David and Alan have a slight chance to relax. The river they use for fishing, bathing, and dining is hidden from sight in the mountain so that they are relatively safe at all times. Alan notes that the red coats will not determine their position for a while. The literary critic, Kiely, analyzes this passage of the novel as such, "Throughout their flight, while hotly pursued by semi-barbarous Campbells out for revenge, and troops of redcoats with a warrant for their arrest, the two heroes insist upon acting like vacationers on a walking tour of the Highlands." He then inserts the quotation from this chapter which discusses the two men competing to be the best fisherman. The scene is certainly jovial and filled with testosterone-esque competition, yet the assertion by Kiely is not completely fair when considering the surrounding circumstances. This event is one of the few relaxed times in the novel, especially over the course of the escape, and it allows the reader to view the boyishness and limitations inherent in each character. The playfulness reveals a greater humanity and solidifies the bond which is growing between the two men.

Chapter 22 Summary:

By morning, after hours of traveling, Alan and David reached the end of the mountains. Beyond them, the moor let off a mist that draped the land, and any soldiers on it. Alan stopped and asked David if he wished to risk continuing or rest for the night. Alan described how dangers lay all around so that Eastward was the only path they could choose. However, going East would bring hardship too as the land was very flat and they would be easy to spot. David rationalized that they might as well keep going and Alan applauded his spirit. When the mist died away, David saw that the land was nearly barren and dead. As the sun rose and heat increased, they kept to their knees or bellies. At noon, they lay behind a thick bush to rest. Alan permitted David to sleep first. Too soon, David was awakened. Alan set a stick in the ground to judge the time and gave David a specific time to wake him up. Yet, David was still so fatigued that he dozed off. When he awoke, the shadow on the stick was past Alan's mark and soldiers had moved in. He woke Alan quickly. Alan's face showed anger but he said nothing to David except that they had better make a run for it before the soldiers got any closer.

They ran for the large mountain nearby, Ben Alder. With no water left, smoke rising from the burnt ground, and their constant crawling about, David soon became extremely weary. He would have lain down had he not feared Alan and his fortitude. When they noticed the soldiers setting up camp for the night, David begged that they rest as well. Alan refused, exclaiming that they must reach the mountain. David did not know if he could continue so Alan offered to carry him. In disbelief, David agreed to keep moving. As he crept along in the light of night (far north, it does not get very dark during summer), David came to hate each step and the man who made him take it. He felt like a private blindly following his officer.

When day dawned, they had traveled far enough from danger to stand upright. They were so exhausted, however, that they stumbled dumbly into an ambush. Alan was walking in the lead when suddenly three or four men jumped out, knocked them down, and held dirks to their throats. David was too tired to be scared. Alan spoke to them in Gaelic. The men were from the Vourich clan led by Cluny Macpherson, who had played a large role in 1746. While a messenger ran off, Alan slept but David could not rest because of the grasshoppers' chirping. When they had to move again, David looked so weary that two Cluny men carried him into Ben Alder.


Interestingly, the dynamic between David and Alan changes during the course of their journey in this chapter. In the last chapter, the two men participated in somewhat friendly, but masculine driven competition. David was pleased to be the best fisherman, whereas Alan wanted to practice sword fighting with David so that he could show off his skill. Thus, although the two are enjoying the period they have to relax and game play, tension builds. In this chapter, we see how they deal with the tension of constant togetherness over a long and difficult trek. Alan is lenient when David falls asleep and allows the redcoats to move in without his noticing. It is because of this error that the men are forced to run all the way to Ben Adler. However, David is exhausted. As he pushes himself along, the main reason he does not collapse is not because of his own inner strength but because of a fear and/or admiration for Alan. He tells the reader, "Nothing but the fear of Alan lent me enough of a false kind of courage to continueŠI was driven to marvel at the man's endurance."

Yet, when David finally asks to rest, Alan refuses because of the danger they are in. When he offers to carry David, David is humiliated. Pride weighs more on him than his physical capabilities. A hatred grows as David hates every step and he hates Alan for making him continue. David comments, "And I dare say I would have made a good enough private; for in these last hours, it never occurred to me that I had any choice, but just to obey as long as I was able, and die obeying." David, through hatred and self-reflection, begins to understand the role he plays in conjunction with Alan. In their physical exertion and decision making, Alan is the controlling half of the partnership. David's growing hatred of this duality leads his body to finally collapse. The dynamic, though based on two halves, is an unstable splitting of human awareness. As David describes, "Šwhat a pair we must have made, going double like old grandfathers, stumbling like babes, and as white as dead folk." "Going double" is how the men hoped to survive, exploring Stevenson's metaphor of the doppleganger, but weaknesses are discovered.

The theme of man versus nature comes into play again as we see David and, to a lesser extent, Alan, grope to survive among the cruel elements of the moor, a stripped, dry, and barren expanse of land. The men have no water. Since they must crawl and slither, they inhale the smoke of the hot, burnt ground. The critic, Kiely, remarks, "Even the natural landscape, for all its atmospheric importance in Kidnapped, is not permitted to pose an ultimate threat to the characters." However, we may note that the landscape in this chapter is pivotal in breaking down the brotherly dynamic between Alan and David. David begins to lose his sense of practicality and to hate the position he has been put in during this journey and during this novel. As doubles - as halves - the men crumble to the point of blindly entering an ambush. The landscape does not kill them or save them, only men are capable of these acts in the novel. However, the character of the landscape certainly aids, symbolically, in the disintegration of the sense of self and the questioning of duality.

Chapter 23 Summary:

Cluny lived in a dwelling called the Cage because of its construction into the side of the mountain behind a wall of trees, dirt, and rocks. It was hidden from view like a wasp's nest. Cluny greeted them in drab, simple wear but with the poise of royalty. He kindly accepted the men into his home. The Cage was quite comfortable considering its elements and Cluny spoke of his entertaining Prince Charles of France at one point. The Cage was one of many hiding places in the countryside for Cluny. His clansmen still held him as an authority and protected him at all costs. Cluny was rather particular in his home due to the large amount of time he spent alone. He was visited by his wife or friends occasionally but not often. Daily, his servants gave him the news of the country which he devoured greedily. David was interested in seeing the inner workings of a Highland clan, though he certainly felt out of place as well.

Given some luxuries, Cluny squeezed lemon on the venison he served to David and Alan. Worn out, David could eat very little. After finishing the meal, Cluny took out an old deck of cards. David could have used his fatigue as an excuse but felt like he should speak his mind. He told them that he did not think it was right to play cards and so, he would rather not. The chief gasped but Alan tried to explain that though David was a Whig, he was a good boy and should be allowed to rest. David confirmed his exhaustion and explained that he was following his father's wishes. Cluny agreed but often looked his way in disgust. David was shown to a bed of heather . As soon as he lay upon it, he fell into a feverish sleep. He came to several times during the next couple of days but remembered little and barely gained consciousness. He did notice that Cluny and Alan played cards for several days and that Alan appeared to be losing after the second day. When Alan asked him for money, he was too ill to refuse.

On the third day, David finally came to his senses and was able to rise and step outside. Cluny spoke to him in Gaelic when he returned. David had to admit he did not understand. Annoyed, Cluny asked if he had the strength to move on. David mentioned their little money and Alan was forced to admit that he had lost both of their purses. The chief mumbled that he would certainly not take their money. Alan looked down in humiliation. David took the chief aside and asked what he should do since neither option allowed any of the three to retain his pride. David voiced that he had been correct in thinking that gambling was dangerous. Though angered, Cluny returned the money to David and shook his hand.


Cluny's cage is a highly symbolic dwelling. We have been looking at "the problems of the body and of the practical intelligence, in clean, open-air adventure" as well as the themes of Scottish duality and man versus nature. Critics have described Kidnapped has a largely visual novel. The adventures are mainly physical and take us through a variety of overtly described landscapes. The scapes change drastically, though within the limits of the Scottish scope, from rural Lowland kirk to large, foreboding residence to ship at sea to deserted isle to wild, weather beaten Highlands. Though the natural landscape does not dominate to the extent that it takes on the personality of a full-fledged character, it certainly affects the sensibilities of the heroes and often strips them to the base of their duality. The attention that Stevenson pays to geography is clear from the map placed at the beginning of the novel and the specific references to landmarks. However, he also seems to enjoy the use of geography and visual stimulation as a decorative and illustrative function of style, leading the reader through a sensory filled journey which can be read and experienced. The characters do often play second fiddle to this elaborative writing style and thus we must give the Cage a proper look.

Time nearly stops for the narrator once inside the Cage. David falls ill from fever and is barely conscious for a span of three days. During this time, the reader knows little of what goes on beyond Alan and Cluny's card game and Alan's selfish plea for money. It is almost as if David has fallen into the hole to Wonderland. He comments that his vision becomes distorted from the fever and his visual sense is thus demented. The text states, "Alan had stooped over the bed, and had his face close to my eyes; to which troubled as they were with the fever, it seemed of the most shocking bigness." Only because David is disoriented and feverish does he agree to give Alan his money. Alan however is under no contract to continue playing cards, as far as we know, and could have likely quit once his own money was lost. Alan's lack of reason, it seems, has grown with David's illness.

Within the Cage, as nature and man are largely kept out of the interior of the structure, the life that does come inside is largely exaggerated. David lies motionless, without agency. His practical sense is deadened. Alan, overcome by his romantic zeal and with little sense of responsibility, plays to the point that he loses all of their money. The environment of the Cage is a psychological metaphor for the role each hero plays in Stevenson's use of the doppleganger. David notices, "I was conscious of no particular nightmare, only of a general, black, abiding horror - a horror of the place I was in, and the bed I lay in, and the plaids on the wall, and the voices, and the fire, and myself." For David, the Cage is a Highlander hell which entraps him and inflates the faults of the self. Once he reaches the open-air on the third day, he can finally begin to piece together the irrational mistakes made by Alan.

Chapter 24 Summary:

One of Cluny's gillies, while carrying Alan and David's bags, led them to a hiding place near Loch Rannoch. The march occurred in silence as David was angered by Alan's actions at the Cage and Alan was embarrassed. David thought often of separation. He wished that Alan would suggest the idea. But Alan was not this gracious and David would not be so ungrateful as to suggest it himself. David also resented that Alan assumed that David would share the money he took back from Cluny. With these two subjects of pride boiling in David's temper, he remained silent, barely making eye contact with Alan. Alan noticed and finally apologized, noting that he did not wish to be where he was not welcome. Defensively, David reprimanded Alan for thinking that David would fail his friend. Alan expressed that he felt much in debt to David so David should make his life easier. This comment infuriated David more, who exclaimed that he had not reproached Alan for his stupidity in the least and was now being criticized for keeping silent. This quieted Alan and they walked quietly again.

When they reached the Loch, Alan and the gillie disagreed on their course of action. The gillie finally won and took them into Campbell territory. The land was barren and covered in fog. Their health received no relief and David felt increasingly bad. His throat was sore and a stitch in his side grew worse. When he slept in his wet beds at night, he could not help but see images from the nightmares of his journey. As the rains continued, he hoped for his grave but said nothing to Alan. Instead, he tried more to show his endurance. Alan grew weary of being apologetic and finally forgave himself and became more arrogant than before. David grew worse until his legs were virtually giving way underneath him. When he fell, however, he stood up so quickly that Alan did not give his fall much notice. Alan started berating the proud boy with name calling.

Finally, after being called Whig and feeling as if he was about to die, David exploded with anger. He criticized Alan, espousing that Alan should pay respect to the Whigs and Campbells who continually beat him. Alan was offended but David continued, finally pulling his sword and challenging Alan. Alan revealed his sword but then threw it upon the ground, collapsing into sadness. David's anger finally left him but he could not take back what he had said. He appealed to Alan with his seriously ill health. Alan ran to his side, apologized graciously, and offered to carry him though David was much larger in size.


The Quarrel chapter is discussed frequently by critics when they discuss Kidnapped. The critic, Eigner, describes the type of tension Stevenson was looking to illustrate in his writing, "And it is this division [between Highlander and Lowlander], a division characterized not so much by strangeness but by animosity, that Stevenson sought to portray in the David Balfour romances." He continues to comment on the animosity which Stevenson believed existed between the two Scottish cultures, and the two spirits within himself. He states, "Stevenson's heroŠis neither polished nor elegant, and he is not altogether charmed by the glittering Highlander, at least not at first sight. He has been much more carefully trained to recognize and to turn aside from the devil." David is certainly not charmed by Alan and has been questioning himself from the first why he has remained with the man. For sure, a friendship has formed and David feels loyal to the alliance, but he still thinks that Alan is selfishly endangering David's life. Note, however, that David rarely stops to think that perhaps he is endangering Alan's life also. The progress would be much faster, in all likelihood, for Alan alone.

A combination of David's exhaustion and his boiling resentment concerning Alan's selfishness and ingratitude work to fuel an anger in David which finally explodes. Unlike Alan, David does not express his inner feelings in an outward manner very often. We often see Alan whistling a tune in happiness, composing a song about himself, or throwing around insults. David, the more conservative and highminded Lowlander, uses a base of what is proper and judges others within that matrix, as in the gambling incident in Cluny's Cage for instance. Money and material items are much more important to the mercantile Lowlander. Thus the liberty that Alan took with David's money and the manner in which he afterwards assumed that David would share, infuriates David's Lowlander, practical sensibilities. He is no longer able to see past the prejudices he had been instilled with and attacks Alan with the bias with which he was raised. The quarrel is a metonym for the constant skirmishes and tension between the two breeds of Scotsman, and between the duality of the self.

Finally, the quarrel is also a depiction of the lack of resolution or judgment within Stevenson's writing of Highlander/Lowlander politics. As critic Kiely claims, "The quarrel between David and Alan is a typical example of the extent to which history colors and intensifies a private conflict without ultimately lifting it above the level of adolescent skirmish." Though the political history and tension definitely adds a more serious and painful level to this argument, the quarrel stems more from exhaustion and petty grievances than from a political disagreement. Alan is not able to fight his friend no matter what David has just said and David finally admits that he has been speaking out of great illness and injured pride. However, we can not help but note that many of the arguments and slurs which David and Alan throw at each other when angered are products of a deeply prejudiced and divided nation.

Chapter 25 Summary:

Alan knocked on the door of the first house they came to in Balquidder, which was risky for him since some members of the town belonged to an opposing clan. Luckily the house belonged to a Maclaren, who had followed the Stewarts in 1746. David was given a bed and a doctor was quickly ordered. Though David pressed Alan to leave because he was in danger, Alan refused to go. He would hide in a hole outdoors during the day and then visit at night. The hosts, Duncan Dhu and Mrs. Maclaren, were gracious. While Alan visited, pipes were brought out so that the atmosphere was festive.

Even though David rested at the Maclaren house for nearly a month and the entire area knew of his stay, no soldiers or magistrates bothered him. The only remarkable event which occurred involved a visit from the infamous Robin Oig, son of Rob Roy. Though he was wanted for several crimes, he walked in this area untouched and entered the house of the Maclarens, an enemy, with ease. Duncan and David were anxious because Robin arrived at the time when Alan normally visited. Robin wished to see David because he had known a surgeon whose last name was Balfour. David was ashamed to admit that he knew nothing about his relatives so he could not tell Robin whether he was related to the surgeon. Robin looked disgusted and rose to leave without excuse, when Alan walked in. The two stood face to face, glaring at each other.

Their conversation soon progressed into talk of dueling. David almost got out of bed to stop them, but Duncan stepped in between and slyly challenged them to prove who was the best piper. The two men fell for this and began arguing over who was the best. Duncan brought out his pipe and Robin began. His tune was nice but uninteresting. Alan's tune improved upon Robin's and flowed into ravishing variations. Robin took his pipe and played Alan's tune note for note before illustrating his skill by reworking each variation to an incredible new height. Alan was forced to admit that Robin was more talented than he. After this point, the two ate, drank, and played through the night.


After the peaceful resolution of the quarrel between David and Alan, at least to the point where they are friendly to each other again, the reader is witness to quite another type of quarrel in this chapter. Supporting the themes of duality, during the instances in which we have observed Alan committing the greatest folly, David has not been present to effect his decision making. Granted, David is quite inept at decision making himself but his presence appears to allow Alan to take a greater number of concerns into consideration. For instance, while David is brought into the Stewart's home with James, Alan runs outside and dresses himself in his tattered and incriminating French clothing. While David is ill and feverish due to illness at Cluny's Cage, Alan wheedles David for money and then loses it. In this chapter, while David again is ill, Alan nearly duels with a man in his gracious host's home. Though the event would not have been ridiculous for the time period, the decision to fight would not have been beneficial for either side and there was no reason to fight beyond that the two men saw each other.

This brings us back to Alan's romantic, irrational sensibility as a Highlander. He reacts to life circumstances through passion, emotion, strongly held ideals. These ideals often revolve around the ancient prejudices roused in the last chapter, where the Lowlander views the Highlander as a barbarian and the Highlander views the Lowlander as a conservative moralist. Furthermore, rivalries between clans within the Highlands often caused nearly as much tension and violence, as we saw when Red Fox was killed and now when Alan and Robin want to fight because of who they are. Peace is restored thanks to the pipe because it offers a peaceful manner of competition. The pipe thus functions as a metaphor for the restoration of peace and the smoothing over of differences. Through David's eyes and the theme of duality within the self, Stevenson portrays the foolishness of prejudice.

The pipe, thus, can also be a metaphor for the bond between our two heroes. The critic, Eigner, likens their relationship to the bond which forms between Huck and Jim in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The parallels between the plot structures and secondary characters are many. As he explains, "Š[Each hero] begins a long journey in the company of an older man of a different, supposedly more primitive race, a man who is a fugitive from justice and a suspected murderer." The major difference in the two novels is in scope. Huckleberry Finn is obviously filled with greater political struggle, judgment, and social overtones. However, critics such as Leslie Fiedler, assert that Kidnapped is rich in psychological elements which can be evidenced from the bond between the two heroes who are at once dopplegangers and two conflicting halves of one self. As Fiedler concludes, "Š[T]hey war within Stevenson's single country and in his single soul." Thus whether one views the novel as psychological romance or adventure story, it is important to recognize the symbolic complexity contained in the relationship between the two main characters.