Pincher Martin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pincher Martin
First edition
Author William Golding
Cover artist Anthony Gross[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Allegorical
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback & Hardback)
Pages 208

Pincher Martin: The Two Deaths of Christopher Martin (often referred to simply as Pincher Martin), is a novel by British writer William Golding, first published in 1956. It is Golding's third novel, directly following The Inheritors, which in turn came after his magnum opus and debut Lord of the Flies.

The novel is one of Golding's best-known novels, and is noted for being uniquely existential and somewhat minimalistic in setting.


The plot of Pincher Martin surrounds the survival and psychophysical, spiritual and existential plight of one Christopher Hadley "Pincher" Martin, a temporary naval lieutenant and the sole survivor of a military torpedo destroyer which sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean. Martin is unconscious at the opening of the novel, but wakes in complete darkness, submerged, before nearly drowning after being thrown into the side of a rocky islet. After desperately calling out for help, and receiving none, he correctly deduces that his naval crew is dead; and, disoriented, he scrambles up the rock to avoid the constant battering of the surrounding waves. Once on the island, he starts his struggle for survival but, as time goes by, a series of strange and increasingly terrifying events, which he at first dismisses as hallucinations, slowly cause him to lose his grip on reality.

The novel's twist ending suggests that Martin actually drowned shortly after his ship was sunk. This interpretation changes the work into an allegory of purgatory and damnation. Some believe that, instead, sometime during the narrative, Martin loses his battle to maintain his sanity while fighting to survive alone on the barren rocks.


The North Atlantic islet in question is described in the novel as very small, rocky, barren and remote, "only appearing on weather charts". It is due to these descriptions that a number of critics and reviewers[who?] proposed that the setting provided is that of Rockall, which seems to fit the definitions given.