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Fiction and Australian Identity Essay

The novel Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton resonates the idea of engaging readers through its focus on optimism despite hardship throughout the narrative. The text has the ability to be appreciated and understood through its textual integrity and realism, making it an inspirationally driven text for those engaged readers. A cultural perspective of the novel highlights how the characters in the novel overcome hardships and gain that sense of optimism, which is a true acknowledgment of the sentiment of the stereotypical “Australian” character.

Winton’s focus on the overcoming of segregation in the novel, thoroughly emphasizes this notion of how after hardship, comes optimism, as once the family unites, there is this strong sense of optimism felt in the text. These ideas engage the reader to an extent of realisation that this text is one full of inspiration and encouragement, despite the hardship present at times. The cultural perspective of the novel incorporates the acknowledgment of the Australian identity, making the readers engage and relate with the various characters who posses similar traits.

Sam Pickle’s lifestyle, focusing on vices and addiction, causes a great deal of hardship for himself and those around him. The influence gambling has on his life is shown in the quote, “He loved to gamble, for it was another way of finding water, a divination that sent his whole body sparking. ” Comparing Sam’s gambling addiction to that of water allows for realisation of the importance of gambling in his life, as water is a necessity for life.

This also creates a distinct connection between Sam and Fish, as Fish’s character thrives for water, bringing happiness and satisfaction to his life, as it is a “divination”. This creates the parallel that Sam may see gambling in this necessary way. It is known throughout the novel of the importance of water, and this quote portrays Sam’s view on gambling, thoroughly reflecting on its influence on his life.

The hardships depicted in the novel are a realistic truth that creates textual integrity; recognizing the Australian identity, as a way to accept the hardships and move on with life, as Sam does throughout the novel. The significance of the inclusion of the Australian identity, is key in the characterization of the various characters, each bringing their own flaws and qualities to the narrative, giving it its engaging effect. The cultural perspective give the hardships faced in the novel a sense of realism, and relatability.

Rose’s character is one that signifies the overcoming of these hardships, as she arguably faces the most significant adversities throughout her life. Rose’s private feelings regarding the impact of her parents’ vices is expressed in how, “There was too much shame, too much cowering under the neighbours’ eyes, too much agonizing embarrassment going to school with a black eye …” The repetition of “too much” evokes empathy for her circumstances as she is compelled to suffer not only neglect but physical abuse from her mother as well.

The obvious physical pain, as well as her lowered moral shown throughout the novel, seem to entice the idea of the negativity hardship can have on ones life. It forces Rose to want to breakaway from her family ideas and values, and explore the world, looking for that sense of optimism. Her character proves the underlying attributes in the Australian identity; attributes that focus on pursuing happiness, to gain a greater perspective of life. The narrative allows for the idea of segregation to act as an aspect of the hardship faced by the characters.

It distinguishes the differences between those who are separated, identifying their different lifestyles and values as factors, which has caused this disconnection. The segregation and major personality differences between the two families are highlighted in the quote, “Sometimes they squared off at one another like opposing platoons. ” The metaphor of comparing the two sets of children to “platoon”, a word commonly used in war, parallels the separation caused by the war.

This emphasizes a key aspect of the contextual features of the storyline, as the war has a major impact on the lives of the characters. This also exaggerates the level of separation between the two families, suggesting they have a war-like standing against each other, caused by different views and opinions. The notion of segregation between the families is an obvious cause of hardship, as the two families share so much, whilst being completely different.

There is strong symbolism throughout Cloud Street that parallels this idea of segregation. The end of the novel signifies the overcoming of these symbols, in order to unite. The divided backyard is achieved through “old signs patched together,” symbolizing the patching together’ of lives after the previous hardships faced. The families of Cloudstreet are very different, one who works hard for their own benefit and the other strongly focused on taking life in its stride, letting luck decide life’s path.

Winton tends to favour the Lamb families determination, as the constant reliance on luck is not always dependable, as it causes much disruption and conflict between members of the Pickle family. Representatives of the different families work collaboratively in removing both the physical and emotional barriers. “A square little woman unpegged and folded a tent another woman stepped forward, tottering a little. She crossed the long gash where yesterday there’d been a fence, and took a corner of the tent herself. ” The families are literally brought together by the folding of the tent.

Corner to corner, their lives are intertwined in a fashion that shows overcoming the hardships created by segregation, allowing for a united nature to be founded in Cloudstreet due to the determination of two family representatives overcoming mutual prejudices. Tim Winton’s novel Cloudstreet is inspirational in the sense that the realism that is created through the narrative, makes the text relatable and appreciated for different contexts. This enables for the reader to be engaged with the storyline, which acknowledges key features such as the Australian identity, and the overcoming of segregation.


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