Use of Setting and Description in Johnno
Throughout Johnno descriptions of settings relating to houses and buildings enable the reader to obtain an insight into the character of Dante. Malouf captures images with powerful force, creating depth to the characters. Specific details that may be deemed inappropriate are enhanced to provide meaning and show how characters respond and feel toward places.
Malouf effectively uses images to reinforce attitudes, feelings and emotions. Though the descriptions are long and detailed, they are worthwhile and evocative. Many of the descriptions are symbolic, such as the descriptions of the garden. Malouf’s use of language is casual, which enhances the story, causing it to come alive. Through Malouf’s descriptions of each house he creates an atmosphere to reflect the characters’ feelings.
The house of Dante’s childhood was a place of freedom and discovery. With a vast garden, there was continual change, with a comfortable and pleasant environment. The next house his family lived in was built based on his fathers dreams, modern and superficial. It was filled with furniture and material that was hostile and restricting, especially for a child.
Malouf describes the house of Dante’s childhood with words of freedom, revealing the memories through the eyes of a child. The old house represented a freedom, a casual yet organized environment. The old house was described as mysterious, ‘a wilderness transformed into a suburban farmlet’
Malouf captures the settings by words that cause the description to be relived, the thought of an adult, transformed into the active words of a child. Expressing the emotions, that a child would feel, capturing the small aspects that made an impression.
'my memories were all of our old house.’
The reader recognizes that the inside of the new house was uncomfortable, due to the words that were used.
‘The new house was stuffily and pretentiously over furnished and depressingly modern’
This would not be an easy environment for a child. The restrictions that are felt by the words make the house seem as though the appearance is of more importance than the comfort. The house is said to be huge, ugly, and show-offish, and through a child’s eyes there is the questioning of why the house needs to be that way. Inside the house the atmosphere is intense, crowded with valuable, superfluous items, requiring proper behaviour.
Dante felt restricted and lonely in the new house, he was unable to feel a part of the environment because of the lack of freedom. He missed the old house, unable to replace the good memories that he held with him.
The house of Dante’s grandmother is large, with many rooms filled with valuable furniture, ornaments and trinkets. Though there is much space, the living area was restricted, protecting much of the valuables from undue use and damage....