Jim's Personal Journey in Fly Away Peter Essay

Jim's Personal Journey in Fly Away Peter Essay

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"It was of a kind that could blast the world". While Jim Saddler, the protagonist, of David Malouf's metaphorical novel Fly Away Peter is reflecting upon his father's violent nature, the madness and chaos of the war described in later passages, portrays the "kind of savagery" in humanity in general and man's disruption of the natural order. The destructive nature of man is seen in the portrayal of Jim's father's anger as "it allowed nothing to exist under its breath without being blackened". From the beginning of the novel, Jim Saddler evidently shows his abhorrence of violence and the fear of being "infected" with it so he keeps an "arm's length" away from his father. However, through his journey to enlightenment by extending his "map" through his trench-warfare experiences, he realises he is capable of exhibiting the very qualities he detests. The expansion of Jim's map is greatly influenced by his personal experience, the awakening of his consciousness during the war and his fear that this ongoing violence will in fact, never cease. It is a "nightmare" which exists at the back of his head.

The reference to the "savagery" of Jim's father at the beginning of the novel foreshadows the terror of the war and demonstrates Jim's revulsion at it. Jim's father describes his own father's treatment of him as like a "bloody animal" when he was "put to the plough" at his youth. The word "animal" alludes to his father's violent anger at the treatment he received at "ten years old". He treats Jim him poorly and often resorts to physical injury as a means of passing on his attitude that his lifestyle is what Jim should aspire to. His father, with his bitter outlook and defeatist attitude, shows Jim what he does not want to become...


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... his father, seen thorough Imogen?s eyes: ?glaring at her?balefully?with?deep hatred for everything he saw?? Imogen, like Jim, is struck with an understanding that there is always an element of mystery in a person?s character. As Jim cannot understand fully what his father was like, Imogen questions: ?what was his grief like?? To Imogen, Jim is still living in her image of him, the image of the new sport in the surfer is an image of the future, which is concurrent in her mind. Looking to the future, living in the present, remembering the past is the message Malouf is conveying to us, that in one sense we never die, but are always part of an eternal ?cycle? of existence. Our three passages have focused on Jim?s own inner personal journey, curtailed by his death, but as we know, he too, has found his place in the universe, as part of the cycle of life and death.

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