Fly Away Peter

1651 Words7 Pages
Fly Away Peter Malouf evokes the horror and absurdity of war in ‘Fly Away Peter’ through an Australian frame of reference that creates reality for the reader. Discuss. Malouf’s ‘Fly Away Peter’ uses an Australian frame of reference to display the horrors and absurdity of war. The way in which Malouf writes creates reality – the reader can suspend disbelief and believe that the events in the novella are actually real. When we read ‘Fly Away Peter’, we see the story through Jim’s eyes. Jim is a bird watcher, and he is Australian. Ashley, his employer, was born in Australia and educated in England. Ashley has inherited the land on which Jim watches the birds. The Australian frame of reference is seen through Jim, juxtaposed with Ashley’s British influence. The first few chapters of the book are set just before World War One, in coastal Queensland. A description is given where Jim and Ashley live and their lifestyles. Here we learn that they are not incredibly important or powerful people – they are ordinary. Many readers can identify with the characters, creating a sense of feasibility and reality within the story. World War One is another setting in ‘Fly Away Peter’. Australia, being strongly tied to England, to obliged to be involved in the war, despite the lack of any other solid reasons. Jim and Ashley enlist, Jim as a soldier, Ashley as a general, only Ashley returns. Descriptions of events and locations that Jim gives while in war really display to the reader the horror and war and just how much people had sacrificed. At the time of the World War One, Britain was Australia’s ‘mother country’. Influences were still very strong, and Australia, still very young, needed this support and comfort that Britain offered. Australia, as a country officially existed, but she had no identity of her own to set her apart from Britain. This is seen in history through the English style uniforms the army adopted, the clothes that were worn, and the style of houses. The isolation of Australia also had an effect on her development. There was a lack of technology, money and industry. Without that base, it seemed that Australia would develop rather slowly. World War One was to be a morale raiser for Australia – her first war as a nation. It was seen as a chance to show to the world what Australia could be, the first step in breaking away from the restraints ... ... middle of paper ... ...e Bizet.” (Pg 96) In conclusion, with the backgrounds of World War One and Australia, Malouf manages to give the reader an idea of what the war was like by focussing on the horror and absurdity of war. At the time of the First World War, Australia was still strongly tied to Britain, hence her supposed unnecessary involvement in the war. Although, being involved in the war gave the Australians something to be proud of. I feel that to be part of such destruction is shameful. The war was hoped to lift Australia’s identity, but with characters like Ashley coming from England it would have taken a lot more than a war to break ties. The change in Wizzer’s character demonstrates to the reader that wars really did change men in ways we could not imagine. It is understandable that Wizzer was close to losing his sanity. This understanding came from Jim’s descriptions of the war and from our previously gathered knowledge, which suggests that Malouf expected the reader to already have gained information on the war. As a reader, it could be seen that the war, through Jim’s eyes, and could relate all his experiences with information already gathered. I saw the reality in ‘Fly Away Peter’.

More about Fly Away Peter

Open Document