We understand the themes of a novel through the growth of a central character. Discuss with detailed reference to Fly Away Peter.
The question of human identity and our role within the universe has always been a source of great debate and much contemplation. The quest to discover the ‘essence’ of our humanity is one of central concern in the novel Fly Away Peter by David Malouf. Through the central character’s voyage of realisation, we are confronted with a deeply philosophical approach to the meaning of life and death. Whilst on the surface appearing very simplistic and straightforward, multiple themes are intertwined in the framework of the narrative. Jim Sadler’s journey of self discovery provides a vehicle for the author to deliver his powerful messages portraying the transient nature of our existence. Specifically this is demonstrated through Jim’s experiences in relation to the insignificance of individual life, the inevitability of death and the unstoppable movement of time. Fly Away Peter also explores the gender stereotype of the soldier and the influences of our experiences upon our sense of self, as Jim’s military service essentially develops his inner consciousness.
In the opening section of the novel we are acquainted with the naive and innocent Jim Sadler, a stereotypical working class Australian youth at the beginning of the twentieth century. Through his acceptance of the wealthy land owner, Ashley Crowther’s, offer of a job observing birds on his property, Jim is presented with security and a ‘sanctuary’ in which he feels comfortable and safe. For Ashley, what is a seemingly trivial offer is a significant turning point in Jims’ life, providing Jim with, for the first time, direction and purpose. This is demonstrated in
Jim, who till then had been merely drifting, and might have drifted as far as the city and become a mill-hand or a tram conductor, saw immediately the scope of it and...