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The Land Endures: Bringing Sunset Song to Life

Long Rob and Chae Strachan

Rob and Chae - Panel image

Scottish soldiers parading for kit inspection, 1914. 

Imperial War Museums

Rob and Chae case Rob and Chae - Interpretive panel

Robert Duncan, known as 'Long Rob of the Mill'

Calm, cheerful and a lover of animals, it is widely known that 'Rob of the Mill had never a thought of what Kinraddie said of him.' He has no problem with his status as a bachelor, and despite a brief love aggair with Chris, he never marries. An educated and well-read man, his atheist an dpacifist beliefs often begin debates among friends. His anti-war attitude eventually causes trouble, and he is forced into military service during the war. He dies in action but receives commendations for bravery in a conflict not his own. 


Charles 'Chae' Strachan

Known as 'one of the handiest billies in Kinraddie,' Chaei's hardworking, open-minded and compassionate nature earns him the trust of the Guthrie family. Chae's  socialist leanings are much discussed in Kinraddie. Chae's strong opinions and beliefs cause him to enlist at the beginning of the war. His joyous personality is soured through bitter and traumatic scars from the Western Front, to which his wife, Kirsty, asks 'Have you fair gone mad with the killing of Germans?'

Scotland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sae economic depression and social unrest. Long Rob and Chae's political discussions are based on popular beliefs from the time. World War I became a social turning point as the Acts passed by Parliament made service for all men between the ages 18 and 41 compulsory. Exceptions were rare and many were unable to avoid the front.

Long Rob and Chae also demonstrate the importance of friendship in a community. They are active participants in all important events, like John Guthrie's funeral and Chris' wedding, and are willing to help others with farming duties. Lewis Grassic Gibbon experienced this himself during his rural childhood in North East Scotland. Through Rob and Chae, Grassic Gibbon also reflects sentiments not often discussed regarding the war. Rob's pacifism is contrasted with Chae's optimism as a volunteer. Although these contrasts caused tension, they remained fast friends until they met similar ends on the battlefield. 


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