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During King of Devil's Island (org.: Kongen av Bastøy) the former sailor Erling (C-19) tells a story to Olav (C-1) for writing down, about a ship crew hunting for a whale, which seems to be an allegory for their own situation in Bastøy. He starts to tell it when they are on forest duty with a third boy (forgive me for not recounting it word-accurate):

Olav: You ever seen whales?

Erling: I saw one which, hit by three harpoons, just swam away. It took three days till he was dead.

Olav: And my role in it?

Erling: Deck boy. And I'm the harpooner.

Later, during Olav's parole after six years and after the Warden's reluctance to say anything about Bråthen's deeds and his guilt in Ivar (C-5)'s suicide to the comittee, he develops it further:

Olav (reading): We were already weeks on the sea till I saw him again. Our supplies went short and Øystein, our cook, gave few reasons for praise. You should have seen how thin I was, fed up with the fish. We met the whale again, got very near, much nearer than before. The harpoon I hit him with had weakened him. He was huge, at least 25 metres, and he was laced with scars from endured fights.

Erling: The new deck boy he'd already killed, the poor guy. The captain was convinced very much of himself, but actually he was a cowardly bastard. The rest fo the crew feared him. One I know quite well, he's going to sign off soon. For six years he worked without blame or faults, now he wants to go on land again.

Which makes it clear that the captain symbolizes the Warden, whom I first thought to be the whale. Then the last part is told once they are put in isolation together with Øystein after attacking the reappearing Bråthen, who wasn't fired but continues to work at the institution as before:

Erling: Everywhere was only blood. He swallowed them before he died, the harpooner, the cook, and the deck boy. The whale swallowed them all three.

Olav: Then everything went its usual course. The captain became admiral...

Erling (laughing): ...got the command on a shabby tub and sailed to America.

Olav (laughing): The crew stood in line for sex, full with mackerels and herrings.

But at the end, after Olav escaped as the only one and ships by Bastøy again after some years passed, you hear a shortened version spoken by Erling from the off:

I saw a whale who, hit by three harpoons, just swam away. It took three days till he was dead. The harpoon I hit him with had weakened him, and he was laced with scars from all his endured fights. One I know quite well, he's going to sign off soon. For six years he worked without blame or faults, now he wants to go on land again.

Which gives a rather omptimistic ending again, at least for Olav. But while the roles of all the major characters in this story are rather clear to me, I'm not sure what to make out of the whale. Whom or what does the whale symbolize in this story? Does it maybe stand for Bastøy itself or something else?

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