Fly Away Peter Essay

1514 words - 6 pages

When writing authors utilise various narrative techniques which can provoke emotions and explore abstract concepts so as that as we read we can reach certain conclusions. Fly Away Peter by David Malouf, is a novel set before and during the First World War. It has two settings in binary opposition with each other; the bird sanctuary on the Queensland Gold Coast and the horrors of the Western Front. The novel follows the journey of three characters; Ashley the talented musician who owns the land, Imogen the photographer of the birds and the main character Jim, a self- contained young man who has a profound understanding of nature and in particular the birds in the sanctuary. Jim relates to the birds on a level that is a unique gift to him. We journey with Jim to war and experience the utter horror there as he uses the comfort of birds and home to face death and destruction. Malouf philosophically explores the abstract concepts of identity; the sense of place and belonging, time and the duality of human nature, and by using selected narrative techniques he provokes the reader to think deeply about these ideas, whether we reject or agree with them.We each have something unique to all of us that defines our identity. Through omniscient third person narration we can explore each character's thoughts and experiences. This allows us to understand in greater depth what makes the characters who they are and drives their actions, We also hear others thoughts about them. The in-depth characterisation used by Malouf throughout the narration led me to understand that the relationship between Imogen, Jim and Ashley at the sanctuary and also Jim, Clancy and the soldiers at war. These relationships are based upon the knowledge of each person's individual gift or unique value. For Imogen it is her ability through photographic artistry, to capture moments and give presence to or prove their existence. Ashley has the power of music which in itself can have an immense effect on people, and for Jim it is his knowledge and perception of nature and birds as if he is connected to the landscape around him. Clancy has the ability to absorb everyone in his stories and his experiences of the world and his life, and at war Jim finds comfort in this. Imogen, when mourning Jim reveals, "That is what life meant, a unique presence, and it was essential in every creature.", as if our unique presence, our identity essentially is what creates the beauty in all of us.Time is ceaseless and unstoppable; we are only one moment and so can seem insignificant. This idea about time is explored throughout the novel especially through the use of Malouf's poetic writing which pushes us to dig deeper and contemplate the abstract ideas he explores. The thought that time is unstoppable and ceaseless is generated throughout as if we cannot stop it as much as we may desire. "Time even in the dimension of his own life, had lost all meaning for him" suggesting that for Jim time has become an...

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