The Riders

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An individual’s ‘Sense of Place’ is predominantly their place of belonging and acceptance in the world, may it be through a strong physical, emotional or spiritual connection. In Tim Winton’s novel ‘The Riders”, the concept of Sense of Place is explored through the desperate journey of its protagonist, Fred Scully. Scully’s elaborate search for identity throughout the novel is guided and influenced by the compulsive love he feels for his wife Jennifer and their family morals, the intensity of hope and the destruction it can cause and the nostalgic nature of Winton’s writing. Two quotes which reflect the ideals of a person’s Sense of Place are “Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.’(Aldous Huxley) and “It is not down in any map. True places never are.” (Herman Melville). Huxley and Melville’s statements closely resemble Fred Scully’s journey and rectify some of his motivations throughout the text.

Scully’s ‘Sense of Place’ strongly revolves around the idea of a healthy marriage, a happy family, and ultimately, the presence of love. He believes that he and Jennifer have an honest relationship and that she is like his “sheet anchor...a steadying influence on him”, (p.20) but Winton contradicts this by frequently incorporating foreshadowing into Scully’s dreams to signify that Scully’s marriage is not what it seems. ‘In his dreams that night he ran, never stopping to see what was behind him, blindly going on into darkness’ (p.22). This quote highlights his trusting nature towards his relationship with Jennifer, and foreshadows the “blind” shock that he will suffer when he is betrayed. Scully does not only feel intense love for his wife, he is also devoted to his daughter Billie. He b...

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...ecomes clear, that Scully’s home, his life and ultimately his Sense of Place is in Ireland with Billie by his side. It is with this newfound knowledge that Melville’s quote rings true: Scully’s true places; his daughter and his memories cannot be found on any map, only deep inside his heart.

Fred Scully endured an emotionally destructive journey in order to discover his true identity and Sense of Place. In order to attain his identity Scully learnt how love could be both dangerous and wholesome, how much it hurts to have his hopes raised only to be shattered by the truth and experienced spiritual travels back to his secure past. Throughout Scully’s journey Winton reinforces the concept of Sense of place with the techniques of flashbacks and foreshadowing, which crucially contribute to Scully’s newfound Sense of Place: anywhere where Billie and him are together.

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