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Fly Away Peter

Uploaded by Spudgirl on Oct 10, 2001

‘Human beings desire order but have to confront chaos’. How is this explored in Fly Away Peter?


Fly Away Peter’s binary structure enables it to explore the conflicting natures of order and chaos. The juxtaposition of ideas that threads through the novel to set up many opposites conveys to the reader the way in which human beings must confront difficulty in order to broaden their world view and enhance their journey towards self-discovery. Malouf uses the characters as vehicles for the exploration of ideas, with Jim’s personal journey the focus for many themes. Jim goes from the idyllic sanctuary to the front of war in order to come to an understanding of the world and his place in it. As the novel progresses, he continually expands his outlook by coming to terms with the unnatural act of war as well as a darker side of himself.

With the imminent chaos of war looming, Jim, Ashley and Imogen find order and security in the peaceful Queensland marshes. With Ashley having provided him with a purpose, Jim is content for a while in his newfound position and friends. The natural world follows a set pattern, and is appreciated by all three in their own way. Jim finds a superiority in the timeless quality of nature, Ashley ‘respects’ the ‘primitive power’ of the Australian bush, and Imogen has found an inner contentment in wildlife photography. At this point in the novel, Imogen in particular has confronted disorder, and in upending her life has become much more accepting of difference. Jim’s Book also exposes the human being’s desire for order. It pleases both he and Ashley, and is something he keeps going even when the chaos of war has intruded upon his life.

Jim’s trip to Brisbane heralds his ‘fall from innocence’, as he begins to experience the ‘real’ world. He guesses that this war ‘might, after all, be serious’, and sees that his life has, in a strange way, changed forever. Amid the hysteria, Jim feels inexorably drawn towards involvement in the war. The metaphor of a tilting slope suggests the inevitability of this. With pressure increasing on Jim to join up, it is not his father’s envy or coercion that finally decides the issue, nor is it a question of patriotism. Rather, Jim acknowledges to himself the need to extend his knowledge of life in the face of the inexorable changes war would bring. He...

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Uploaded by:   Spudgirl

Date:   10/10/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,106 words)

Views:   2601

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