The Collector

The Collector Summary and Analysis of Part 3

Part 3 returns to Clegg's point of view. He goes downstairs to see Miranda and she is cold as ice; she shivers and asks him to get a doctor, G.P., and Minny. Clearly delusional and very ill, she begins to struggle. Clegg gives her more anti-flu pills. Once she is more lucid she tells him that she needs a doctor to give her antibiotics. Miranda also tells Clegg that she doesn't want to die and that she is afraid she will. She is having difficulty breathing.

Clegg forgives Miranda for everything and spends the night in the room just outside her cell. Miranda coughs up brown phlegm, which Clegg justifies by saying the pills may have colored it. She sweats, screams, and fights him, and can barely sleep despite all the sleeping pills Clegg gives her.

Early the next morning, Clegg decides he really needs to find a doctor. Miranda coughs up more red and brown phlegm. Nonetheless, he puts off finding a doctor for another day, and the next morning he goes to town. He goes to the nearest doctor, but grows alarmed at all the people staring at him in the waiting room and flees. Even though he has no prescription for antibiotics he goes to a local chemist, who will only give him flu medicine and grows suspicious at the story he makes up about a sick friend.

Clegg goes back home, exhausted and without any antibiotics. Miranda is even sicker. Clegg tells her that he will get her a doctor tomorrow. She becomes very sick in the middle of the night, so he carries her upstairs to sleep. As the day goes on and passes into the next, Clegg is frightened. Miranda is sweating and her mouth is covered in pimples.

After midnight Clegg goes into town and parks outside the doctor's house, but before he can go in, a policeman knocks on Clegg's window and asks what he is doing. Clegg pretends that he can't sleep and that he is driving around because of this. He drives home without seeing a doctor. Miranda worsens, and Clegg stays by her side.

Miranda finally dies at sundown on what appears to be the next day. Clegg puts her dead body in the cellar once it is dark outside. He has spent the last few days gradually forgiving Miranda all her trespasses of the last two months, and once she is dead he fully forgives her entirely. He remembers the beginning of his relationship with her, when she was just a girl he saw from afar. Clegg goes down to the cellar to check on her body but thinks he sees movement; disturbed, he runs out and locks the door.

Clegg contemplates killing himself to bury the whole business. He will make it look like a suicide pact, complete with a letter to the police explaining that he and Miranda were in love. He will burn all the evidence of his photographs and negatives. He lies down for a nap, planning to do all this when he wakes up.


Part 3 is a disturbing account of Miranda's final days, full of descriptive and referential language that brings together many of the themes of the book. Clegg's social isolation and paranoia, aggravated by the last few months with Miranda, render him unable to find good medical care for her.

When Miranda finally dies after an agonizing bout of pneumonia, Clegg observes that "her eyes were staring white like she'd tried to see out the window one last time" (274). This quote harkens back to the novel's central theme of imprisonment. Clegg may be imprisoned within his own social fears and anxieties, making him unable to get a doctor, but this stark quote about Miranda's death stare makes it clear whose prison was worse.

Clegg's reaction to Miranda's dead body further highlights his disconnect from normal human emotions. "Not while she was living, but when I knew she was dead, that was when I finally forgave her," he says (274). Her death brings him back to the days when he only viewed Miranda from afar and had no real concept of her rebelliousness, her lack of love for him, or her anger at being a prisoner. In death, finally, she is perfect and pure, just as she was in the "wild" before he captured her. She has truly become a part of his collection in every way that the butterflies are.

Clegg's final insistence on framing their captor-captive story as a love story is especially revealing; this idea indicates the delusions he suffers from when it comes to love. He plans to kill himself and have his body discovered with Miranda's. "We would be buried together. Like Romeo and Juliet" (276). He intends to bury the truth with him, too, so that the story of Clegg and Miranda will become a tragedy, not a crime. This quote and thought process is, interestingly, the closest Clegg will ever come to understanding his life through art. Perhaps Miranda had more of an influence on him than he had thought.