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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