A bridge to wiseman’s cove, by James Moloney is a novel about a young man named Carl Matt; it goes through all the difficulties he faces during his life on wattle beach. At the beginning of this novel, the importance of family seems to be the main theme, however, as the story continues, other themes are introduced such as knowing the difference between wrong and right, how one views himself, in other words body image, abandonment, the need for love, neglect, loneliness and many more.
Right from the beginning of the story the reader is introduced to some of the fundamental characters of the novel such as Kerry, the mother of Carl, his younger brother Harley and his older sister Sarah. From as early as the first few chapters the theme of abandonment is introduced when Kerry decides to abandon Carl and his two other siblings. But this isn’t the last time you read about abandonment it seems to be a reoccurring event. It is soon discovered that Kerry was also abandoned by her three previous boyfriends that she had a child each with! Sarah then tells Carl and Harley that they will be spending their holidays with their Aunt Beryl in Wattle beach while she goes on a holiday of her own. Its not long till they realise that Sarah won’t be coming back from her holiday any time soon, meaning Carl has been abandoned once again. Once you think no one else could leave Carl, Harley leaves him too live with the Duncan’s family, while living with beryl for him becomes unbearable.
Being abandoned so many times, Carl is left feeling hurt, confused and neglected! This is where the themes loneliness and the need for love come in. When Carl first arrives, he is miserable and lonely: “alone in the park, Carl wishes he was a concrete statute, set there for the birds to sit on. No thoughts, no cares, no pain, just years of weathering in the sun and rain until there was nothing more” (pg. 29) He is later told by Justine that he has been “playing dead” (p. 184). Carl finally admits that he is hurt inside by what he is mother has done, and he doesn’t even know if he is loved or not. He explains to Justine that “there’s something broken inside of me. Every time I try open up it hurts and I have to stop” (p. 278). “I’m angry. All the time it was that one fear. That she didn’t love me.” (p. 232)
Carl is big, awkward, and well aware of his body. The Oxford dictionary defines “body image” as the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body. For Carl body image is important, other then being low is self esteem, he is so self-conscience of what other people might say or think about him he wore a t-shirt when he went swimming to protect himself from public humiliation, “he was ashamed of his fleshly bulges in front of the war-painted life savers” (p. 44). As a defence mechanism Carl would often draw his arms to his stomach in order to hide it when he felt uncomfortable (p. 45) and this shows that his body image is always in his thoughts.