In ‘Saltburn,’ as the audience follows Oliver Quick from the halls of Oxford to his friend Felix Catton’s grand family Estate, they get to peek into the lives of the Catton Family, who more than live up to their high socio-economic status. The narrative follows the Gothic scene of Oliver’s charged infatuation with Felix and the newly growing one with the house itself. In doing so, it explores the intriguing dynamic between Oliver, an outsider, and the well-fitting Catton clan. Of the clan, two individuals, Farleigh and Venetia, particularly stand out due to their complicated relationships with Oliver. Yet, their presence at Saltburn Estate may invite curiosity regarding each character’s relation to Felix. SPOILERS AHEAD!
How Is Venetia Related to Felix?
Venetia Catton is Felix’s sister, initially introduced into the narrative as an elusive presence at Saltburn Estate, with eye-catching era-appropriate 2000s fashion and an instant interest in Oliver. From the start, the woman manages to stand out against her family due to her forthright, jaded personality. While the other Cattons, especially her mother Elspeth, equips passive-aggressiveness to voice her less-pleasant opinions, Venetia is happy to say things as they are.
Furthermore, the woman remains the most openly troubled individual within her family. Venetia has an eating disorder, which marks her complicated relationship with the idea of control in her life. Yet, her mother, who is well aware of the extent of her daughter’s issue, isn’t dissuaded from voicing unkind things about her. Elspeth’s penchant for gossip, it seems, doesn’t stop even for family.
Not only that, if Elspeth’s words are to be believed, Venetia has had a string of sexually charged, short-lived relationships since she was fourteen. Her mother’s gossip fodder about Venetia turns out to be true in part, considering Oliver is able to exert control over the girl with the same information. Nevertheless, their entanglement is similarly short-lived and ends once Felix becomes privy to her sister’s sexual relationship with his best friend.
More than anything, Felix’s annoyance at Oliver’s involvement with Venetia seems to be purely territorial, likening Oliver to a toy only Felix is allowed to play with. As it would turn out, a similar instance occurred in the past when Felix’s high school best friend, Eddie, fell in bed with Venetia, marking the end of the former’s friendship with him.
Since Felix’s attention and affection are vital to Oliver, he attempts to continue his relationship with Venetia secretly, but the girl firmly shuts the idea down. Nonetheless, despite the slightly competitive relationship between the siblings, Venetia and Felix were incredibly close to one another.
How Is Farleigh Related to Felix?
While Venetia’s relationship with Felix remains a pretty straightforward ordeal, Farleigh’s connection to Felix and the Cattons comes with a backstory. Farleigh is Felix’s cousin. Felix’s father, Sir James Catton, has a sister, Fredricia, better known as Fred. Unlike the Catton family, Fred didn’t have an appetite for the emotionless English society and moved to America to build her life. However, the woman ended up unlucky in love and fell into a relationship with a man who was eager to blow through her family’s wealth. From that union, Fred gave birth to Farleigh.
Eventually, James’ patience ran dry with Fred and her irresponsible partner. Therefore, he cut Fred off the family inheritance, leaving her to fend for herself. Yet, making his nephew, Farleigh, pay for his parent’s mistakes seemed too cruel. As such, Farleigh moved to England to live with the Cattons at the Saltburn Estate. Furthermore, James continued to pay for Farleigh’s education.
Still, Farleigh was notoriously awful at staying at one university for long, with rumors of scandalous relationships with professors closely following his departure from each establishment. Finally, the man ended up in Oxford, where he graduated alongside Felix and Oliver before returning to a summer at Saltburn in their company.
Nonetheless, a certain disconnect remained between Farleigh and the Cattons despite his easy presence beside the latter, whom he matched in entitlement and snark. For one, even though the man was allowed into the family’s wealth, his mother was still kept out. For the same reason, Farleigh often had to turn to Felix to talk James into sending his mother funds.
The constant need for what was essentially begging drove a wedge between the cousins, defining Farleigh’s relationship with Felix at times. Likewise, his distinct identity as biracial in a white family also caused some unmentioned friction. Still, Felix’s untimely death significantly affects his cousin. Yet, Farleigh’s attempts to question Oliver, Felix’s undetected killer, only end up landing him in trouble. Ultimately, Oliver manipulates the Cattons into blaming Farleigh for Felix’s passing, marking the cousin’s banishment from the family.