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“Blueback” by Tim Winton Essay

Essay Question: How does Tim Winton use the elements of narratives to covey his theme?

Have you ever read a story about a boy whose best friend is a fish? In Blueback by Tim Winton this is exactly what happens. Like in many of Winton’s stories Blueback is set in a seaside town in Western Australia. Winton uses the setting, characters, conflict and resolution to portray the message that we should protect the environment and not plunder the oceans for our own benefit.

The main Characters in Blueback are Able and his Mum, Dora, who live in the sleepy seaside town of Longboat bay. Winton constructs Longboat bay as a peaceful quite place that belongs only to Able, Dora and Blueback, a place were they enjoy diving and were “Able swims with his mother in turquoise waters ”. Winton constructs this setting to make the reader think of it as a healthy easygoing place to live away from the city.

Winton makes Abel’s home sound like a very pleasant place to live being nestled between Longboat bay with its abundant marine life and pristine national park, with thriving wild life. Able and Dora enjoy the simple life and are very self sufficient and do everything from fixing motors to collecting abalone and selling the shells. Able and Dora take advantage of the land and go fishing and planting crops Dora Tells Able that “Able and his mother lived of the sea and land. Jackson had been living here like this for more than a hundred years”.

Able is constructed as a strong willed character that does his best to help other people and the environment. When Able sees Costello “stripping the reef bare” he goes out to try and stop him and in the process saves Blueback, this to me shows that Abel is a very unselfish person. Another example of able being unselfish is when Longboat Bay is almost ruined by an oil spill, and Able rushes home from the city to try and help. Able and his wife even quit their jobs to look after his mum when she gets sick. Winton constructs Able as a character that makes us think about the environment and other people more.

One of the main conflicts in Blueback is when Able and Dora try to save Blueback from Costello. Able sees Costello taking all the fish and all the Abalone from the bay attempts to stop him. Able quickly boards Costello’s boat and throws the abalone back into the water hoping they might survive. Meanwhile Dora swims down to check on Blueback. Able swam down to his mother and realised that Costello was trying spear Blueback, Costello had already shot one spear that had missed Blueback my the narrowest or margins and was reloading. Unexpectedly Blueback swam away. On the surface Dora told Able that she “Biffed” the fish on in the head to scare it away. Winton uses this conflict to make the reader think about not taking to much from the ocean for your own benefit and preserving what we have.

Costello is constructed as a mean selfish character who is only interested in doing something for his own gain. Costello is the complete opposite of Able and only thinks about himself and doesn’t care for the environment at all. Dora describes Able as a “hard case” and says there is nothing Able can do to stop him taking all the abalone from Longboat Bay. Even though Able does stop Costello taking more Abalone he still took many undersize fish and broke the law. When Able got on Costello’s boat he saw that, “ the deck was awash with blood, Able had speared fish nearly every day of his life but he had never seen such slaughter like this.” Winton uses Costello’s character makes the reader think about being more aware of actions that may impact other people and the image of a deck awash with blood to make people feel disgust.

Winton uses the setting, characters, conflict and resolution to tell his story and to give us the message that we must protect the environment. He does this by having two main settings in Blueback, the first is Able’s home, a peaceful tranquil bay and the second setting, the city which is constructed as a dull noisy place that Able describes as “hemmed in”. The main message in this novel is that we must preserve what we have.

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