‘With it’s sight restored at last, the bird jerked it’s head sideways to look at Carl and then Joy, as though it was asking, is it true? Am I free?’ James Moloney uses the image of the osprey in several ways throughout the novel. The main technique in which it is represented, is the emotion of the characters finally feeling free in there own way.
The first use of the image of the osprey is shown when Carl’s mother Kerry would always leave to go on one of her ‘holiday’s’. I believe that she went on these holidays to make herself feel free. To go away for a few days and leave her real life. But in fact she was never really free. Even on her holidays she always knew that she would eventually have to come back to reality, to her children. It’s not that she didn’t love her kids, she did.
Perhaps she just couldn’t handle the stress of having to raise three children as a single parent or maybe just having them around was holding her back. During the prelude of the novel an unknown women gets on board a bus. She waits out of sight and sneaks on the bus when the driver is pre-occupied. She does not have a ticket and no one knows who she is. ‘The driver gunned the engine, commanding its throaty roar and the bus pulled away from the roadhouse into the sea of darkness. Only then did the women sit up and permit herself a smile’ At the end of the novel we find out that this women was Kerry. She was on her way back to her children when the bus she was on drowned into the ocean. In the moment that Kerry died, came the realization that she knew she was finally free.
Sarah, Carl’s sister also finds the courage to leave and set herself free. Free from living her own life. Since Sarah was old enough to remember she would always have to depend on herself not her mother. When her mother would leave she would have to look after Carl and Harley as though they were her own. She states in the book ‘I’m only nineteen years old. I’ve got my own life. By the time Harley’s old enough to take care of himself, I’ll be thirty.’ Although I don’t agree with the way Sarah went about just dropping Harley and Carl off at their Aunt Beryl’s, I agree that she has her own life to live and she needed to escape. Consequently, setting herself free.
The image of the osprey is shown in a major way within Carl. In many ways the osprey is a mirror image of Carl, in its appearance, pain, suffering, recovery and how it is set free. The image of the osprey is remarkably similar to that of Carl’s. It was a, ‘large bird, brown and grey, its head covered by a canvas hood.’ The description of the osprey matches some aspects of Carl’s body and personality. Carl was a large boy, miserable like the colour grey and he was shy like a hood covering his head. This was because he did not want to see what people responded to his body. He was ashamed of himself and the name his family had.
Although by the end of the book Carl realizes that he finally has new friends and a new family. He finds that people like him and that they ignore that he is a Matt. ‘My name is Carl Matt. M-A-T-T.’ Carl screams his name out to the world, he doesn’t care anymore. Carl was free. Free of his worries, free of his fears. He is free from the curse that everyone says he and his family has. He could let go of his sorrowful past and be alive just like how the osprey let go of its painful past and began to fly once again. The way the osprey spread it’s wings and took its first beat against the wind symbolizes the emotions rushing through Carl when he finds out his mum truly did love him and Harley. The journey of the osprey mirrored Carl’s personal life. The osprey was set free in a way that makes Carl feel alive.
The image of the osprey is used to represent the characters feeling free. It mainly symbolizes as a metaphor for Carl’s life. The osprey is free from being injured by people by being nurtured from Justine and Joy. Carl was also getting injured by people. Throughout his whole life people were hurting him. Kerry, his mother, Beryl, his aunt, his older sister Sarah and kids calling him names about him weight. When he met Justine and Joy, they saved him. They made him feel alive. They set him free.
Courtney from Study Moose
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