Traditional (nineteenth century) image of Parland Macfarlane, founder of the clan
On a personal note, from family lore, Sir Andrew MacFarland was among my ancestors. Whenever I asked my Grandmother Kent what he was knighted for, she always snorted, he was a horse thief, and went on the say he died the very next day in battle. Neither historical note is a part of the clan history published by Cascade Publishing Company of Jedburh, Scotland.
Fortuitously, the clan was in fact Protestant not Catholic -- a necessary feature for the story of the man who became Kent MacFarland in Where You Can Hear the Sea and See the Sound.
In lonely solitude on the northeast coast of the Scottish Highlands, a man, his form bowed more with despondency than with brutal winter endured, awaits transportation bearing him into exile from the land he loves.
Framed by New England’s shattering 1938 Hurricane and advanced through flashbacks, voices of the land, and affiliated lore, this is the story of a man whose identity is altered from exile to exile as he encounters cultures and individuals enduring their own exiles.
The forefront is seventeenth-century New England, with the emphasis on the Connecticut shoreline between Old Saybrook and Stony Creek. This is the time of the so-called Pequot War, which primarily involved Connecticut’s Pequots and Mohegans as well as the English colonists, whose influences, literal and figurative, are expanding from Boston and Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although the native vantage is portrayed through the two sachems, Sassacus of the Pequots and Uncas of the Mohegans and through Quinnipiac “Squaw-Sachem” Shaumpashuh and her immediate family, the transcendent character is a Scots Highlander from the Loch Lomond region, very much in the background of his story.
Forced by clan proscriptions inflicted by the English and by personal circumstances, the Highlander protagonist is driven from his homeland to find shelter among earlier exiles making a place for themselves in Guildford, farming country southwest of London. After meeting the Puritan leader Roger Williams on a “lecture tour” of presbyteries, the protagonist is widowed and proceeds alone to Massachusetts Bay Colony. After passing several months with Williams, the protagonist is guided by a Massachuset along Mishimayazat, the trail connecting Boston with Manhattan. With Shaumpashuh’s family, the exiled man settles in what are now Leetes Island, Sachem’s Head, and Stony Creek. In her company he befriends Sassacus and later independently befriends Uncas and Lion Gardener, the commander of Fort Saybrook.
As the Pequot War develops and proceeds, the protagonist is forced to decide where his loyalties truly reside. In the end, he finds himself estranged or otherwise separated from all, including the shoreline itself. Accompanied only by his wolf companion, he sets off on a “journey-quest” northward along the Connecticut River and disappears, lost to his Quinnipiac wife, their children, and the remnants of her family.
In keeping with the social psychology of Erik Erikson and his notions of identity, self, and a lifelong series of “identity crises,” the protagonist literally assumes new identities as he matures in the Highlands and endures the series of exiles – Liam Macfarlane, Glenn Kent, Kent MacFarland.
The protagonist’s life is in keeping with local histories, Puritan theology and Antinomianism, and numerous parallels, notably across the novel’s settings, between clan and “tribal” cultures, and in the treatment the English inflicted on Scots Highlanders (and the Irish) and on Indians.
The 1938 framework reinforces linkages between past and present, with September 21st being the date of the 1638 treaty ending the Pequot War – denying forevermore the existence of Pequots – and the date of the 1938 Hurricane. The framework also links shoreline individuals of the seventeenth and twentieth centuries while opening the door to linkages with present day readers. The years 1638 and 1938 are critical junctures, both at least for New Englanders, the former for all Americans, as it sets the stage for future interactions between European-Americans and the peoples previously native to America. Significantly, the hurricane is a metaphor among Indian cultures for the invasion of European-Americans and their devastating sweep across the continent.
Integrating elements of history, anthropology, social psychology, and theology, the motivating premise is that all of us are identities in exile, whether overt or shrouded in the labyrinths of our subconscious and unconscious minds. We are all in search of our proper place along the continuum between “civilization” and “the wild” or “wilderness.” In this, we are on our own metaphoric journey-quest elucidating our relationships with places, larger environments, the natural world, and realms beyond what we call natural.