Use of Setting and Description in David Malouf's Johnno
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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.
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...an to want more from his environment and through looking at what the rest of the world had to offer it caused him to desire change and growth and to search for it. What he had compared to others was not satisfying, not good enough, causing him to despise what he had.
Outdoors-river widens to a broad stream, low mud flaps on one side, pelicans, native pines, high creeper covered walls.
The outside atmosphere of the house brings no pleasure to Dante, the environment seem only an image, he cannot make himself a part of it.
‘It’s a house I have never got used to’
Dante misses the sounds and atmosphere of the old house. The change to the modern is an aspect that he has difficulty adapting to. The growing dislike of each house has brought him to the point of hating his entire environment.
‘My loyalties remain where my feelings are, at the old house’