One of the most endearing aspects of The Riders is the clever characterization. This allows the reader to relate to the typical national stereotypes and yet very extravagant personalities portrayed in the novel. The characterization, together with Winton’s considerable skill at using the characters’ view to evoke a sense of place, are two of the strengths of The Riders. The character of Fred Scully, the ‘hero’ of The Riders, is one of the most wonderfully written characters to have come out of Winton’s writing so far. Scully’s character encompasses all the traditional traits of the Australian: his use of vernacular, appearance, humor, as well as the outlook and many more. Winton has the reader accompany Scully in his desperate struggle through Europe and it is Scully’s personality that the reader finds themselves enjoying more than the sightseeing trip.
"...Scully [is] one of the most memorable characters in Australian fiction."
Scully is memorable because his traits could be found in someone known by the reader; he could easily be the ‘man next door’. The beauty of Scully is that Winton has allowed for the character to evolve, and he has adapted along with his character. At the beginning of the novel Scully is the "...big friendly shambles of a man who followed them like an ugly hound, loyal and indestructible..." yet not long after Scully is seen as "...sheepish like a lamb unto the slaughter...". These changes which occur in the character of Scully fit into the structure and plot of The Riders. Before the disappearance of Jennifer, Scully was a ruggedly handsome optimist, content to wait out the bad times, yet after the trauma of loss and heartache, ...
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... is based around the idea that Scully is an emotional person, one who considers the needs of others. Scully follows Jennifer because of the baby. Yet he does not pursue Connor Keneally, because he understands that it would not be right, no matter how much he feels that he wants to.
Tim Winton’s Scully is a very memorable Australian character. His connection with the reader enables them to enjoy his individual humour, vernacular and his generally unsinkable optimism. Winton’s writing skills allow the reader to be drawn to Scully by the character’s particular outlook on situations. Scully once said "What you see is what you get". Within The Riders this is not necessarily so, Winton gives Scully much more than what is printed on the page and it is up to the reader’s discretion of how much they perceive.
Winton, Tim. The Riders Prentice Hall 1996.
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